Canadian cities fly Pride flags for LGBT Russians, Rob Ford balks
The Sochi Winter Olympics are inadvertently turning out to be the gayest games ever.
As Gay Whistler's Dean Nelson (who helped create the world's first Olympic Pride House) pointed out in an interview with the Georgia Straight, Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian government have unintentionally done more to draw attention to homophobia and LGBT rights than they ever could have foreseen.
Countries around the world have expressed their concerns about Russia's antigay legislation.
Even Google has gotten into the gay-mes with this Google Doodle.
Canadians have also added their voices to the global outcry.
Several Canadian organizations have issued statements of concern, including Okanagan Pride which is raising funds for InterPride, an international organization which supports Pride organizations in hostile environments around the world. The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion came up with a cheeky video to support LGBT atheletes.
Cities across the country have raised Pride flags at their city halls, including in Vancouver, Whistler, Montreal, Ottawa, and Montreal, to stand in solidarity with Russian LGBT communities.
The Quebec government has announced it will fly the rainbow flag at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, where the 1976 Summer Games were held.
Toronto raised the rainbow flag at its city hall…but—sadly yet unsurprisingly—Cracktown mayor Rob Ford ordered it to be taken down. (His brother, city councillor Doug Ford, claims Rob is not homophobic because he has gay friends. So in other words, Rob Ford has yet to prove he isn't homophobic.)
The National Post is reporting that Ford is backing away from his demand, as police are investigating a threat (unrelated to the flag controversy) made against him.
Meanwhile, on this end of the country, Vancouver has been a particularly vocal advocate for Russian LGBT rights.
Vancouver activists have held several protests and the latest one was held on February 5 at a McDonald's due to the company's corporate sponsorship of the Olympics.
An anonymous Georgia Straight reader sent in this photo of a visual protest staged at Vancouver's rainbow crosswalks at Davie and Bute, as a recreation of the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover but with naked men carrying Putin masks.
Openly gay city councillor Tim Stevenson, who is attending the Olympics in place of Mayor Gregor Robertson as a representative from the previous Winter Olympics host city, is leading a team from Vancouver to meet with the International Olympic Committee to address LGBT rights at the Olympics.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has endorsed Vancouver's Host City Pride mission. London carried the LGBT torch by also establishing a Pride House (which started in Whistler at the 2010 Olympics) when it hosted the 2012 Olympics.
As the CBC reports, change in Russia won't come easily but the current international pressure may at least open the door to the possibility.