I grew up in the 1980’s. If I had dime therefore for every time I was exposed to anti-Soviet propaganda either out of the mouths of politicians or from pop-culture references in the movies I watched, I would be a millionaire by now. We all would. The Cold War lasted about four decades and in that time we all had plenty of opportunity to be handed boat loads of information about how bad things were over there, and the like. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that these international pissing contests are always about the people in power, not the citizens of the country, and it’s with that notion that I propose my solution to Russia’s truly disgusting and troubling turn towards homophobic legislation.
We don’t need to boycott Russia’s upcoming Olympic Games. We need to embrace them. We need to see this as our opportunity to send a modern day Jesse Owens over there to stomp the shit out of Russian athletes, on their home turf in front of their disgusting and ignorant government officials. Better yet? Let’s send a team entirely made up of homosexuals, and let’s see what happens. That’s right, instead of boycotting the Russian Olympics, I am proposing that we assemble the world’s largest collection of gay super-athletes and we send that team over to Russia to embarrass Putin like Owens did to Hitler when his country hosted the games in 1936.
By the time Hitler’s Berlin hosted the games in 1936, the world was well-aware of a massive asshole Hitler was. Whether or not we knew the level to which this man was sinking into his evil psychopathy is up for debate, but we surely knew then that we were sending our athletes into hostile territory. Owens going into Hitler’s Germany and winning four gold medals was big news. Hitler’s overt racism was most certainly well-documented — at the time he dismissed Owens’ victories being owed to the fact that his African heritage made his body more “primitive and strong” than those of Hitler’s lily white athletes.
We need to show Russia in spades that we’re not going to tolerate the kind of anti-LGBT atrocities that they are writing into laws in their country, but not by defiantly dismissing the games. The Olympics are still a noble pursuit, despite even their commercialization. In last year’s summer games we got to see Iraqi women participating openly in athletic competitions. There are feel-good international stories all over the place, and it’s wrong to deny our athletes the chance to represent their country just because the country they’re going into is run at the moment by homophobes. Let’s be honest — there are plenty of white men in our own congressional body who would sign their name to some of the laws being written in Russia, so boycotting the games because there are homophobes in Russia’s government is just a bit too much hypocrisy for my blood.
No, what we need is America’s Super-Gay Olympic Team to be formed. Now, let me be very clear. This isn’t about some lame, thinly-veiled attempt to cash-in on gay stereotypes. I’m not talking about sending a group of Charles Nelson Reilly’s clones over there to compete. I’m talking about putting together a team of the world’s most amazing and world-beating athletes that also happen to enjoy a penis, if they have a penis…or a vagina if they have a problem with penises, that problem being they don’t prefer them. I’d dare the Russian government to imprison a 265-pound massive linebacker of a bobsled team member for acting overtly homosexual. Imagine the international incident that would cause.
The point of course in all of this is that Russia’s anti-gay laws are just built on paranoia, ignorance and fear. Paranoia of what they don’t know, ignorance to the fact that homosexuals are literally no different than heterosexuals except in their sexual genitalia of choice, and fear of just how much they’re paranoid and ignorant about. It’s a vicious cycle, to be sure, but the parallels between 1936 and the Russian Olympiad are as stark as anything. Just as in Berlin, the world has a chance to see for themselves — on the biggest stage possible — that a member of a minority group is no different than any member of the majority, but more important, they can be the best of the best and win it all. In other words their sexuality is just one aspect of who they are — it’s not an obstacle to their success.
I just think that America’s Super-Gay Olympic Team would be the best way to accomplish what the boycott would attempt to do — show the Russia and indeed the entire world, that it’s time to stop treating members of the LGBT community as if they are any different than the rest of us. It may be hard for us to understand, but there are other countries struggling with the same slow slog up the mountain of progress that we are, and we have to be willing to be intellectually honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we have members of our own society who have to learn the same lesson. So America’s Super-Gay Olympic team wouldn’t just be a good object lesson for Russia, it’d be an object lesson for the America’s own homophobic Luddites.
Because that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t realize about the 1936 Olympics — The Holocaust would make it really easy to assume that Germany in 1936 would have been absolutely brutal for a black man like Owens. In fact, Owens was allowed to into mainstream German society — sleeping in the same hotels as white athletes for example — in ways that racist, segregated America in 1936 would never have allowed. Sure, Owens’ story has always been shown as a triumph of American diversity over a culture of racism in Germany, and surely some of that is true. But Owens, just like Jackie Robinson would do about ten years later, served as every bit of an object lesson for an American society still struggling with its own institutionalized discrimination, as it did for a foreign country grappling with some of the very same issues.