In a recent interview with Maclean's, international superstar and gay icon Cher revealed that she turned down an offer to sing at the Sochi Olympics:
I can't name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I'd like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show. I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don't feel the way the government does.
Way to go, Cher! Sadly, though, the unnamed oligarch was feeding her a line: 88% of Russians support the country's draconian "gay propaganda" ban that criminalizes public expressions of support for LGBT people.
In other Russia-related news, NBA commissioner David Stern slammed the sports world for staying silent in the face of Russia's persecution of LGBT people. Speaking Wednesday in Philadelphia at the Beyond Sport Summit, Stern said,
"I'm gonna behave myself, for the record here, which is unlike me. But you know, the first phone call to the new head of the Olympics was from President Putin, and everyone wants to talk about the Russian law on homosexuality. Think about the opportunities that sports have to make a continuing statement, and the only thing that we're saying in that context is 'Shhhh! No one say anything!'"
Also denouncing Russia's anti-gay laws is Seth Wescott, a two-time gold-medal-winning Olympic snowboarder from the United States. Yesterday the 37-year-old Mainer criticized the IOC's selection of Sochi as a host city, telling the Associated Press, "The human rights stuff that's going on, there's a potential for it to be an incredibly negatively-overshadowed Olympics."
He also spoke about female snowboarders he knows who are lesbians:
"They're wonderful human beings, and I think for them to be discriminated against is a crime. They should be able to be who they are and compete proudly. They represent our country incredibly well and they don't need to be the object of that kind of criticism and negativity."
Sadly, the IOC has made it clear that instead of punishing Russia for its draconian anti-LGBT crackdown, it will punish pro-equality athletes who express support for LGBT people at the Sochi Olympic Games.
Graphic via Scott Wooledge of Memeographs Studio.