Billie Jean King and U.S.A. delegation delivers a victory to Anti-Gay Putin

By Melanie Nathan, January 11, 2014.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 1.10.36 PMAccording to Media reports, Billie Jean King believes that standing up to discrimination is the best way to combat it, so she had no hesitation in joining the US delegation for the Sochi Olympics. I submit that it is how one stands up to it that determines the requisite impact.

King will help lead the delegation in the opening ceremony on February 7 at the Sochi Games, which has been overshadowed by a recent anti-gay law in Russia, calls for a boycott and criticism from human rights groups. “It took about 10 seconds,” King said this week about deciding to go to Sochi.

“It sends a strong message that America is very diverse. We are here, and surrogates as athletes and gay athletes. I thought it would be sweet to wave some flags or something. But they can get in big trouble and have their medal taken away and also be sent home… We reflect part of America. Maybe we’ll be a voice for people who don’t feel they can be a voice yet.”

I could not disagree more. The Russians know we are diverse. That’s not news! We do not need to go to Sochi to tell them that.  And they abhor it. They abhor homosexuality and many are Nationalists. The masses that support Putin and the anti-gay laws do not care about diversity and have no qualms about laughing at it in our American faces.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 3.00.39 PMIn fact if  Ms. King were to read the myriad of comments that I have allowed up on this very BLOG from those forming a vast group of Russians who support the torture and persecution on Gays in Russia and who express their disdain for homosexuality, she will see that no amount of “Hello we are here and we are queer” and rainbow flag waving will change their stance.  It is short sighted and unproductive for Ms. King and her band of three to think that they are doing anything more than delivering to Putin an anti-gay victory. They are playing right into his hands.

When they leave Russia, nothing will change and they will have made fools of themselves for attending at all. And most importantly to note, is that  gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and intersex Russians will continue to be torured and persecuted. The laws outlawing their sexuality and existence will increase and things will get worse for them.

Nothing short of full boycotts will accomplish anything. The only way to send a message to Putin is not to show up. Why would LGBT Americans want to deliver anything short of the ultimate message? More self marginalization? Personally I am sick of playing footsie with those who diminish us. With those who have no respect for us. And yet Billie Jean King and the others attending as part of the delegation are now participating in this self marginalization, like it or not.

As I have noted before, using the example of Apartheid and the boycotts of South African sports and athletes, no amount of “look we are black and we are here”  delegations to South Africa would have changed the Afrikaner Apartheid mindset. It took boycotts and sanctions for that to happen.

I believe Ms. King would have made a much bigger statement had she turned down the appointment to the delegation with a comment such as “In supporting the persecuted Russian LGBT community, I refuse to set foot in Russia until the Anti-Propaganda law is repealed.”  This would have had a much greater impact than the puny response of showing up in Russia to say ‘we exist and we are diverse.’ They know that and they have stated over and over again all over the internet and in many venues that they do not care how we conduct ‘our sordid lives in our own countries,’ that they do not want homosexuality in Russia.

Again any self respecting LGBT person from the West ought to have the balls to defy Putin by refusing to participate in the Sochi games.

Its is also interesting to note that the U.S. State Department, since appointing this gay delegation has issued an advisory for Americans tot be aware of the Anti-Gay laws, submitting that those who defy the ill defined law could land up in jail and paying fines.   So how exactly does Ms. King propose she is going to promote her gay / lesbian self for all to see – her mere presence?

As to Ms. King, my final thought and message:

There is still time Billie Jean – you can look into this more and make a much bigger impact than you are currently proposing by announcing your withdrawal on the basis I have suggested – unless of course you are willing to risk arrest and stand on the roof of the Kremlin to scream for the repeal of the law – now that may be worthy!

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Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow Sochi Tokens

By Cathy Kristofferson, December 17, 2013

President Obama has chosen the official U.S. delegation to head to the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia. No POTUS, FLOTUS, VPOTUS, or any other OTUS.  However there will be one out athlete at the opening ceremony and another out athlete at the closing ceremony; READ MORE

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U.S. State Department Warns of Danger to Gays in Sochi Olympic Travel Advisory

By Melanie Nathan, January 11, 2014.

The United States State Department has issued a travel advisory warning Americans of the dangers in attending the February Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. READ MORE

27 thoughts on “Billie Jean King and U.S.A. delegation delivers a victory to Anti-Gay Putin

  1. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Any proud LGBT person would not accept such an invitation!! They don’t care about you …. They mock you!!

  2. A boycott of the Russian games by LGBT will deliver to the Russians exactly what they want, and that is a “gay-free” Olympics. Even better for the Russian government, if our straight allies also stay away in protest. Why would Russia want any of us there, protesting, showing that we are good citizens who are no threat to anybody? They certainly don’t want the international embarrassment of arresting, imprisoning, fining and deporting a gay or lesbian athlete who just won a medal, just because they declared their support for LGBT rights while people aged 17 years or younger happened to be watching the event on their television sets.

    Russia has made it abundantly clear it wants to rid the entire country of homosexuality, which time and again, they’ve shown they believe is nothing more than an immoral “Western value” spread from adults to children via ‘propaganda’. Backing up this nonsense, is none other than the omnipotent Russian Orthodox Church, which goes even further by declaring us evil, and calling for total recriminalisation, a stance supported by the vast majority of Russians, according to recent opinion polls.

    Moreover, an outright boycott of the event by all participating countries would be even worse, because preparation has run into the tens of billions. Locals would drag out LGBT into the street and beat them to death in retaliation, while the police watch. Even if they wanted to, and there’s an abundance of evidence that they don’t, the police would be powerless to stop the pogroms.

    By all means boycott Russian goods and services, and shun the televising of the event, but at this late stage, I fear the only option is to take our fight in full force to the international stage and deal with the consequences.

    1. Haha Derek you soooo miss the point my friend. The russians could not give a continental hoot who comes to the Olympics. they could be wild beasts or martians or gays for all they care. They are a very homophobic racist and anti-semitic society as a whole… do you really thinbk they care who comes? What they care about is the $$$$$$ and the prestige of a succesfull Olympics and everyone shows up – so it will be If they wanted to keep the gays away all they would have to do is say we plan to arrest Gays. The IOC does not have sexual orientation wording in its charter, but the USOC does! They want Gays there they want everyone there at the olypmics as long as the show goes on!!!

      You are agreeing on my point that they hate gays and dont want gays there…. but that has nothing to do with gays at SOCHI… They want to beable to tell the world – LOOK how fabulously we treated YOUR GAYS….. And then boom it will serve as theunder pin for the license to treat their own gays like shit – because they do not have to treat their own well – after all the age old arguemtn- we are sovereign and we dont share your values.

      Again you endorse that money spent is more important than gay lives??? Thats how I read your comment. Thats a shame that yu support such thinking.

      Anything short of a boycott is playing the Putin game – enjoy!!!

      1. If Russians are a “very homophobic racist and anti-semitic society as a whole” (and I don’t disagree that they are) then clearly they DO care who comes. They don’t like Jews, they don’t’ like LGBT and so they don’t want us there as visitors nor as locals. If we don’t turn up, the financial losses to them are negligible, and best of all, there’s no-one to arrest. Win win all round. I can’t see an LGBT boycott being something that worries the Russians in the slightest since it costs them nothing in revenues and spares them 100% of the embarrassment of arresting LGBT people.

        Now a total boycott is something else, because then they lose all the billions they’ve spent in preparation, and international prestige. However a total boycott was never going to be on the cards, because half the nations attending have even worse laws at home, especially African and Arabic countries, which actually support Russia’s recriminalisation of homosexuality. However a total boycott now would cause massive retaliation against domestic LGBT.

        The time for the IOC to move the games came and went long ago. It is them I blame for not doing so when the financial costs to Russia would be minimal, sparing local LGBT the retaliatory violence, and the humiliation maximal.

        1. Well I have been advocating for a full boycott for a very long time. research this BLOG and you will see. You will also see my piece about 10 Actions to take against Russians that was spread widely around and got a huge amount of reads. And of course I know the time for boycotts is long gone and too late, but that is not going to stop me calling for boycotts, I have never been one to shy away from something or not set a benchmark or goal because of fear that it cannot happen. The yardstick is critical. It is one that will carry forward to whatever the next event might be and to be built upon. I noted you agree that the society is full of racists, ant-semites and homophobes – but you are dead wrong to think that for that reason they dont want blacks jews and gays at SOCHI – they dont care who comes to SOCHI because the visitors will come and go. They want EVERYONE there so they can pretend to the rest of the worlld that they are tolerant….. as long as you are on SOCHI OLYMPIC time and not their general living time….please surely you get it?

          1. If gays and our allies go and make a fuss, then Russian police will either have to arrest them, or ignore them. If they ignore them, then yes, that will show the world how tolerant Russia is of the foreign gays, but it will call into question what happens afterwards, just as when Hitler suspended the antisemitic law for the Berlin Olympics and then systematically exterminated 12 million in concentration camps, 6 million of whom were Jews.

            I can’t see how Russia wants gays, blacks and Jews turning up and making a fuss. Surely if we boycott the games that suits them perfectly. No gays, no protests, no arrests, everything runs like clockwork.

            The boycotts that I do agree with, which can carry on indefinitely are of Russian goods and services, and diplomatic snubs, like leaders of the free world not turning up and so on.

            There’s not a question in my kind that the whole affair should have been relocated at the outset by the IOC, but they’re too corrupt and amoral to give a damn. The next step was for an international boycott – that didn’t happen either, probably for comparable reasons. So, to have just LGBT boycotting, well there’s not enough of us to even be detectable by our absence, and our absence will achieve nothing but to oil the wheels of efficiency of the games.

            I hugely respect your arguments, your writing and the work you do Melanie, so maybe this is the stage of the discussion where we’ll just have to agree to disagree?:) Whatever happens, we’ll know soon enough.

            1. Thanks Derek, I appreciate that. Yes we can agree to disagree and I am sure many disagree with me. I suggest look at the history of how apartheid fell in SA. It was a systematic build up to Sanctions and boycotts that took years to happen until the world woke up and did it. So it has to start somewhere. Its NOT only about IOC and Olympics, its the start of a movement. And it has to start somewhere. And all the arguments against SA boycotts are given now wrt Russia. So I am unphased, just disappointed that we do not have a strong enough movement to DEMAND is. Just disappointed that we have no real LGBT in the USA – just a bunch of competing individualistic interests, who suck up to sponsors. Its the $$$$$ that rules not the principle. So we do not have a strong outreach for boycott at all. But you will see it will be like Germany 1936. Putin will not be embarrassed by 3 hihg profiles saying ‘Heloooo dears we are gay and here is our colorful flag!’ He would have been much more hurt by no show! Its too obvious ….. The only difference in the point you and I make is that you think Putin will be affected by the fact that gays are coming with the USA delegation. I think he does not give a damn and that having the games at all is his victory and anyone who goes is participating in his victory.

          2. I tend to agree with the “so they can pretend to the rest of the world that they are tolerant”. We see this a lot in all the criminal movements persecuting LGBTIs across the world.

            Most half- educated half-clever, but generally crafty homophobes, know that it may be cool in their countries to persecute LGBTIs, but they know times have changed, in so many ways.

            They are therefore mostly trying to have their cakes and eat them too, dressing up their hateful campaigns in acceptable garb, and telling a lot of lies in different fora.

            Pretending that they are tolerant, especially before the international community is a key part of their tricks.

            I would not expect anyone in the LGBTI world to be duped.

            1. AGREED and thanks yes! However its not the LGBT world that will be duped – its the rest of the world that can feasibly be duped.

    2. The claim that if other teams boycott the games, then the Russian bigots would drag LGBTIs on the streets and kill them is speculative.

      The international community just do not have the balls to boycott the games, perhaps because of vested interests.

      I think that a total boycott would achieve the most in this situation, and pause little to no risk to local LGBTIs.

      1. $51 billion has been spent

        If there was a total boycott enforced because of Russia’s recriminalisation of homosexuality, then the local job losses, and loss of prestige would be immense. The ONLY people who would be blamed would be local LGBT activists, and by association, any LGBT people. Russians are already loaded for bear against homosexuals and people are being shot at, beaten up, sacked from their jobs already. I can’t see the local population just shrugging their shoulders at the clear evidence that the boycott was caused by their LGBT troublemakers.

        Anyway I agree it’s spectulative, because a total boycott ain’t gonna happen. The opportunity came and went long ago. If only LGBT now boycott the games, then that is handing victory to Russia on a plate, with garnishing. No demonstrations to worry about, no gays ‘propagandising’, problem solved. Our absence will be completely unnoticed.

        1. Yes Speculative. And that is exactly what a boycott should do – cause a country to reconsider its laws. It takes a very long time and it ultimately works. However money and jobs must be lost to wake people up to note that if they are going to depend on the rest of the world for anything then they must confirm to basic international Human rights standards… cuba, iran, etc… This is not about Russians defending their borders. This is about them proclaiming that they can legalize homophobia through laws based on lies and myth and then saying because they are sovereign they can do it. So if you are going to proclaim a law in the name of sovereignty then you must take the consequences and be willing to NOT have international dollars fuel your economy. Nothing pretty about sanctions… and a lot of collateral damage. The problem is that the gay community has been driven underground anyway. They do not exactly romp the streets screaming hellooo I am gay…. So the persecution level will continue to be as bad as it already is.

          1. I was fully in favour of a total boycott at the beginning, but now I think it’s too late for this and would be far too dangerous for local LGBT to unleash the fury of Russia upon them, in the extremely unlikely event all the countries of the world would pull their athletes at the eleventh hour with a loss to Russia of thousands of jobs and $51 billion. The affected populace would go straight for the LGBT jugular. As soon as locals start losing money and losing their jobs, and they know it’s “them gays” to blame, it’s all on for young and old.

            However I wholeheartedly support boycotting Russian goods and services and I applaud the various presidents and other notables who’ve declined the invitation to attend. My only concern is that a boycott now just by LGBT would go completely unnoticed, because we are too small in number to be missed. The only thing that would become apparent would be how smoothly the whole games went because there would be no LGBT there protesting. A country that detests homosexuals is not going to be upset by homosexuals deciding to stay away.

            As an ongoing policy, I also support total boycotts of future Russian events, so long as this is at the beginning and brings the country into disrepute, even better if they’re moved to another country with the anti-gay law stated as the sole reason.

            1. Derek, this was on my FB page by someone – “To those who think the idea of an all out boycott is too extreme- voices and perspectives like Melanie Nathan are so important. And look at where she comes from- boycotts were the only thing that worked in SA. When mainstream news started reporting on this it wasn’t “Johnny Weir threatens to wear rainbow spandex to Sochi” it was “gays threaten to boycott Sochi.” The ultimate is what gave this issue impetus.” SO THATS the point encapsulated. It DOES not matter whether possible or not… thats not the point. And its sad you changed your stance. Because claling for it gives the issue impetus to implement the type of boycotts you call for thereafter. WHY give up ona benchmark just because you think it is not possible. No war for rights was ever won by giving up calling for the ultimate. Failure is momentary and does not matter… its the impact of the CALL that counts – it does not matter if accomplished. Never run for an activist call because you think its not possible.

              That is the reason we do not have an LGBT movement in America, but rather competing cottage industry piecemeal interests,. If we had an LGBT movement in USA we would have set a unified benchmark for full equality instead of pounding on the door of an inferior ENDA filled with crazy religious exemptions. BUT it has been this self marginalized “we will never get that” attitude that has resulted in fragmented and very few rights for gays in America. We really have nothing. We have the repeal of one bad law – DADT. Yah! We have 18 States with marriage Equality. YAH! and Finally we have Federal rights via DOMA sec 3 fall at SCOTUS. But imagine if 30 years ago we had started a real fight for civil rights legislation for FULL EQUALITY. Marriage would not be a question now. We would have got in through the front door and not the back door. Or Possibly! But people had the attitude that said “OOOOOOO that will never be accomplished” and so we never tried.

              1. I’m partly also influenced by the local Russian activists, who while admittedly are very much in disarray, lacking a united voice, are nevertheless calling upon LGBT visitors still to come and to make our presence felt by putting ourselves in harm’s way so as to show up this egregious law.

                The difference between LGBT on our own boycotting something on the grounds of sexuality, and the world boycotting South Africa on the grounds of race is mainly one of scale. A few annoyed gays can’t cut the same swathe as millions of righteous anti-racists.

                As for an LGBT movement in America, for all its alleged lack of cohesion, it has managed to pull of some astonishing triumphs, but I can’t help reflecting that his has been made more tellingly effective through the activism of individuals like Edith Windsor who took on the entire country, and prevailed at SCOTUS.

                For these campaigns to bite, they need solid grass roots support of our allies, in numbers too big to sweep under the carpet. I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities for total boycotts coming up in Russia (and other rogue nations), for example FIFA 2018:

                1. Russian activists that came to the Castro supported Boycotts. Russian activists based in NYC and DC support boycotts – Spectrum, RUSS, Queer Nation Russall favor boycotts.

                  Russian activists who are compromised via Putin and his henchmen-e.g. Mr. N. Alekseev support whatever is in his own interests in a given moment.

                  Of course about scale – but that should NOT matter to us the activists – we should not be intimidated by scale.

                  The DOMA triumph was not Edie Windsor on her own. Had it not been her it would have been another case. Though she had the perfect case and did pound down doors to get it taken. The main kudos in my opinion goes to Mary Bonauto (GLAD) who fought a decade long battle. Yes it was an accomplishment but it still begs the question I raised. MARRIAGE? Our only public fight – buying into religious right ability to take us down. and yet we failed to ask for full equality 30 years ago… we could have set a better benchmark and have yet to do so… I think making marriage our focus caused us to lose what could have been.

                2. You keep suggesting we should only fight for something we are guaranteed of accomplishing. I keep saying fight for the ultimate and the rest will fall into place. There is a philosophical difference in our forms of activism.

  3. I would support a total boycott too.

    The problem we have everywhere, is that they hate us passionately and backwardly. In response, we try to be civil.

    1. No, I say pick the battles so as not to squander the resource of our heterosexual allies. There are only so many times we can ask them to put themselves in harm’s way for us. And I’m also no fan of Pyrrhic victories.

    2. The Russian activists who are calling for boycotts, do they realise that it’s only LGBT who won’t show up if there is a boycott now and that no-one will notice or even care? Do they know there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving a boycott by all nations?

      Saying “we are going to have a total boycott” and then failing to deliver even so much as an LGBT boycott turns us into the boy who cried “wolf!” and we won’t be taken seriously thereafter.

      If one takes the analogy of a classroom teacher, when it comes to enforcing a disciplinary measure, one should never make a threat that one either can’t or doesn’t intend to carry out.

      I repeat that I fully support boycotts, in this and in all future related cases, but I don’t see any value at all in removing the very small number of open gays from the Olympic scene. No-one even knows who they are in Russia, they don’t want us there anyway so having gays saying “we’re not coming” will be greeted with indifference at best and joy at worst.

      A boycott will bite only if all our heterosexual allies boycott too. Even then, I think it’s squandering energy trying to stop all the Olympic nations from attending when many of them support Russia’s anti-gay escalations, and even supporting nations won’t stop training and hang up their shoes now.

      Let’s by all means boycott Russian goods and services, and encourage significant figures that Russians actually DO want to go, like the POTUS, to boycott and by all means let us continue to boycott from day one, any future major sporting events, artisitic events and the like.

      In a way, we’re vehemently agreeing, it’s just the tactics where we are on a different page.

      1. THE CALL FOR BOYCOTT is for everyone to Boycott and Sorry your argument is weak and flawed the fact that it is too late is OBVIOUS but should not mean capitulation by any means. I have never suggested that only GAYS boycott LOL. And it has to start with someone with courage. How do you know if BJK had not refused that others may not have stood by her? And yes it would have made a much bigger press statement than her going. I dont give up. The Russian activists who are calling for boycotts are not stupid. They know exactly what they are doing and who will or wont is not relevant. You seem to have missed my comments. The success in this operation Derek matters not… though it is an imperative call.

        Sorry but your cry wolf analogy mkes no sense in this context and absolutely does not apply./

        End of discussion. There is not much more to be said… I would like to end it on this note…. Please all you brave activists continue to call for boycotts regardless of fear of failure. Your voice and request should not be silenced by those whop tout it as a failure. The only failures are those who support Putin… the successful are those who fight…. because at some point the fight for justice is always won…. but you have to fight through moments that are perceived as losing moments, because it is repetition and persistence that ultimately results in the win.

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