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.
Whistler also just held their annual WinterPRIDE LGBT ski week, which included a parade through the village, led by Mr. Gay Canada 2014 Christepher Wee.
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.
Feb 7, 2014 at 3:56pm
How much will this little dog and pony show REALLY cost this city? A few million in kickbacks?
I think Vision is really only there to get some palm greasing lessons from the masters.
Feb 8, 2014 at 5:43am
Tchaikovsky's music was prominent at the Sochi opening ceremonies, the great irony being that Tchaikovsky was gay and suffered greatly for it and that Russia is so proud of him- but apparently only by divorcing his music from the rest of him.
Feb 8, 2014 at 7:41pm
Rob Ford is a douche. Can we stop hearing so much about him? How he even gets to keep any kind of career is a sign of mass stupidity. And Toronto isn't ready to be left yet. They're still stuck in the dark ages.
What happens behind closed doors in other's pants is not even close to relevant in the Oylmpics. This is just such a time-waster.
Be sporty, be as gay/bi/trans as you want to be and rock out anyway.
Feb 8, 2014 at 10:28pm
Umh. So we put up the pride flag but not the Canadian one? No one sees a problem with this?
Feb 9, 2014 at 8:32am
It's interesting how our institutions and politicians kowtow to the ultra-vocal gay community. Maybe the Russians just don't feel that a small (<10%?) portion of the population dictate to the majority on various matters. Hey, just cuz you're queer doesn't give you the right to jam your beliefs and lifestyle down my throat. Just go be queer and happy.
Feb 9, 2014 at 8:41am
Regina is not flying the Pride Flag either.
Feb 9, 2014 at 8:56am
BE LOUD AND PROUD
Feb 9, 2014 at 1:30pm
Lucy - the pole used for the pride flag is a courtesy pole that is used for many types of flags for various reasons. It is under control of the Toronto municipal government, not Canada. One of the uses of the pole is for non-profit organizations, who can apply to fly their flag. This is what happened in this case - a non-profit LGBT group applied to have the pride flag flown for the two weeks of the Olympics and they were granted permission. There are plenty of other flag poles at city hall and many have the Canadian flag. So no, I don't see a problem with this single pole having the pride flag but I do object to homophobes who are too cowardly to come out and admit that they don't like the LGBT community and create fake objections to hide their hatred - in this case faux patriotism.
Feb 10, 2014 at 6:14am
What wrong with you people, it's all now about to be gay, nothing else counts anymore? I love women only that's mean I'm homophobic? Or you are estupid and wrong..Im a proud male like most of human beens and nobody will tell me or force me love gays.
Feb 10, 2014 at 9:54am
We can always rely on lefty city councillors to embarrass Canada with gestures of stupidity. Do they really think that the Russians care about what Canada's opinion is on their anti-gay law?