After speaking with Jeff Sharlet about the realities of life in Russia for the LGBT community, I'd love to see a big wet gay kiss on the Olympic medals podium.
February 6, 2014

The photo posted above is of two Russian track & field athletes on the medal podium during the IAAF World Athletics Championship in Moscow last year.

Although it appears that this kiss was an act of protest, the women say that's not the case.

The two Russian athletes—Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova—insisted today that despite all the hubbub surrounding their celebratory kiss, critics of Russia's anti-gay laws were simply seeing what they wanted to. "The storm of emotions going through us was incredible," said Ryzhova, according to the Associated Press. "And if we, accidentally, while congratulating each other, touched lips, excuse me. We think the whole fuss is more of a sick fantasy not grounded in anything."

Sick no, but it is a fantasy I hope comes true in these Olympic games. LGBT rights are the civil rights issue of this generation. In decades to come, people would look back on a picture of a symbolic same sex kiss on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games medal podium with the same pride and awe we feel when we see this one of Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos in the 1968 Mexico City games.

The statement would be heard around the world. It's the reason I'll watch, waiting for that moment that will go down in history.

I hope athletes from countries other than Russia step up, as if it could prove truly dangerous for any Russian.

Unfortunately, when a gay couple engages in a public kiss in Russia, they're beaten savagely. That's not an exaggeration, but a fact of live in 2014 Russia.

Jeff Sharlet, the man who pulled the curtain back behind The Family and C Street in the books of the same names, traveled to Russia to experience what life is like there for members of the LGBT community. The result is his latest piece for GQ magazine, "Inside the Iron Closet: What It's Like to Be Gay in Putin's Russia."

He takes us down the back alleys and secret doorways into the hidden, closeted world of Russian gay bars and introduces us to heroic gay activists. Sharlet draws the sickening lines from Russia's right-wing hatred for gays right back to the intolerant, religious right in the US, showing their use of the same English vernacular like "family values,"

The ideas, meanwhile, are American: the rhetoric of "family values" churned out by right-wing American think tanks, bizarre statistics to prove that evil is a fact, its face a gay one. This hatred is old venom, but its weaponization by nations as a means with which to fight "globalization"—not the economic kind, the human-rights kind—is a new terror.

with the ideas coming straight from their American counterparts

Over his right shoulder there's the double-headed-eagle flag of czarist Russia; on his desk there's a bouquet of four flags from the old Confederacy. "Gift from American friends," he says. "We consider them brothers." In fact, many of the People's Council's initiatives—including the "research" in which the anti-propaganda law is rooted—are taken from the curdled theories of the American right. "When people read it, they are shocked! They understand the gays are not some harmless people."

Read it and weep, and hope for an Olympic moment we can all be proud of!

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