A few weeks ago the members of Pussy Riot were freed, it would have been fairly embarrassing to have the two remaining members of Pussy Riot incarcerated during the Winter Olympics. The gesture was fairly hollow, three months of their sentence remaining is hardly a big gesture, though I have say if I was cooped up in Prison – Russian or otherwise – twelve weeks less would be welcome. The gesture was a calculated moved. As the world applauded their release Russia was busying persecuting its gay population, and more than that, using its propaganda machine to dehumanise its gay population.
I don’t define myself primarily as gay, and I don’t think the gay rights issue in Russia is a gay rights issue, it is human rights issue – and as such should be addressed as such. Reading a photo article in the Guardian today was struck by how ordinary the people were, two male couples, two female couples, two singles, two homophobes and how simple the story was – ordinary people in Russia are being victimised by the State whilst neo-Nazi groups kill people without sanction of the State. The pictures are well composed, the stories very brief and very simple. Whilst browsing the iPad newsfeed I also came across a story, well it had been in the news all this week of Thomas Hitzlsperger going public about his sexual preferences, this came a few weeks after Tom Daly made a moving announcement about his sexuality. As in the case of Hitzlsperger the political involved associated with the Football Player rushed to microphone to show their support – primarily Merkel and Cameron.
Digressing a little, I don’t think it should require any comment if someone says that they are gay, but we will live in a world – even Western Europe – where affirmation is still required to combat the hard rump of discrimination – where still feel it is required to say ‘some people are gay, get over it’. Unfortunately the same leaders and sportsmen and women that rush to media to show their support are very quite when it comes to gay rights in Russia. The simple fact is that those sports people who come out as being gay would not be welcome at the Winter Olympics at Sochi.
We unfortunately live in a decaying, well decayed, hegemony that requires us to support those oppress our values, and like armchair political activists just voice our support for human rights in the privacy of our own media.
What does rile me more is that journalists like Clare Balding are going to Sochi, it is more galling because she herself is Lesbian and apparently sees no contradiction in supporting Tom Daley (who wouldn’t be allowed to attend now), and commenting on the Olympic Games as if it was the meeting of the worlds greatest athletes. Of course we all have to make our own choices, but Clare’s is not one that I understand.
Freeing Pussy Riot, as welcome as it is, was just a gesture and we should remember that.