Updated: 02/10/2014 6:07 PM
Created: 02/10/2014 5:20 PM WHEC.com
By: Scott Kilbury
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been heavily criticized abroad over the law banning the spread of gay propaganda among minors, which opponents say discriminates against homosexuals.
But the director of the local gay alliance says that doesn’t mean you should stop supporting the Olympic Games.
From the racial tensions of the 1968 games in Mexico City to the deaths of 11 Israelis in Munich four years later, an undercurrent of politics have existed throughout the Olympic Games.
Scott Fearing said, “I had the honor of being actually in Moscow. Not for the Olympics, but I was a student there.”
Scott Fearing was forced to leave Russia when President Jimmy Carter decided the U.S. would boycott the summer games in 1980.
Fearing said, “In many ways, things haven’t changed. When we asked about gay or disabled people, we were told we don’t produce those people. So really, not much has changed since 1980.”
As the director of the local gay alliance, Fearing has been in contact with people in Russia who say the new Russian law is perpetuating that same tension he witnessed over three decades ago.
Fearing said, “The new law in Russia is if gay people gather together about their rights, empowerment, trying to get over homophobia, being victims of hate crimes, they’ll be arrested and thrown in jail, just simply for gathering together.”
Fearing says President Obama set the right tone when he sent a coalition of American athletes who are openly gay. Fearing says boycotting the games is the last thing to do.
Fearing said, “The main thing I'm hearing from them is don't please boycott, but please come here. Be out, be visible, be an ally, talk about these issue and help make change happen. If I was going to Sochi, I would wear my gay rainbow button or rainbow flag to remind people these issues are happening and encourage people to have that dialogue.”
Fearing is trying to affect change through sports in Rochester too. The inaugural pride games featured games from ice hockey. Last year was such a success. They’re adding more sports to the venue.
Fearing said, “We are part of Rochester. We are of all races, classes and ethnic backgrounds, all you name it, we're part of those communities. We're intertwined in Rochester as well as all everywhere else in the world. We're just lucky we can be out and visible and not have to worry about being arrested.”
Fearing said he is hoping some spectators and maybe even athletes might wear rainbow flag pins to initiate conversations about gay pride.