“The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of LGBT freedom — it is not an endorsement of repression.” Gilbert Baker
By Melanie Nathan, August 08, 2013.
We have have written numerous articles on this website calling for a full boycott of Russia due to their legislated persecution of LGBT people. To all of you who have critiqued our stand for a FULL and absolute all out boycott of the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi, Russia, with your feeble suggestions that our U.S. and world athletes should attend so we can wave our rainbow flags and wear rainbow wrist bands – please note that the creator of the Rainbow Gay Flag says “NO!”
A Statement from Queer Nation, reads LGBT Rainbow Flag Creator Responds to ‘New York Times’ Columnist Frank Bruni, as follows:-
Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag and a member of Queer Nation made the following statement to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni: “Olympic flag waving gave a stamp of approval to Nazi atrocities in 1936. Please don’t use the Rainbow Flag to cover up Russian atrocities in 2014. The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of LGBT freedom — it is not an endorsement of repression.”
In an August 5 opinion piece opposing a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, imagined U.S. Olympic athletes waving Rainbow Flags “no bigger than a handkerchief” during the event’s opening ceremony in Russia as a gesture in opposition to Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay law that makes any pro-gay statement or demonstration in public and on the Internet a crime.
The Olympic Games were held in Nazi Germany in 1936 and other nations, especially the United States, hotly debated whether they should participate. There were also debates in Great Britain, France, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands. Ultimately, more nations participated in the 1936 Olympics, than in any prior games. The Nazis went on to kill six million Jews in the Holocaust, an estimated 100,000 LGBT people, the Roma people, and political dissidents.
Baker first raised the Rainbow Flag, with its iconic eight colors, at San Francisco Pride in 1978. Its positive visual and visceral message of hope, love, and liberation, was meant to transcend all languages and national boundaries. The flag has since become the internationally recognized symbol of the LGBT community’s struggle for freedom.
Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence and repression against the LGBT community. The group’s website is www.QueerNationNY.org and they may be found on Twitter @QueerNationNY.
I agree wholeheartedly and have used my experience as a South African during the height of apartheid to endorse and support a full and all out boycott of the games at Sochi. The International Olympic Committee should either remove the games from Sochi or expect athletes not to show up at all. Showing up to wave rainbow flags is laughable and I have been fighting this suggesiton on Facebook for weeks. The only way Putin will get it is if we cancel, move the games and exclude Russia. That is unless Putin revoked the anti-gay laws immediately, of course.
If America shows up, then we are endorsing Putin’s anti-gay laws and providing license for more atrocities. The Nazi example is poignant and perfectly in point. If the IOC will not pull the Games from Russian, then we must target ALL the sponsors of the Sochi Games and tell them to pull their support immediately. Come on LGBT America and LGBT World and allies – – time to flex our real muscle.
I am supporting:
- The boycott of Russian Vodka including Stoli / Stolichnaya
- The boycott of all Russian products
- Divestment from Russia
- Boycott Russian tourism
- Protests and Russian Consuls
- Retraction of City promotions naming sister cities in Russia
- Retraction and cancellation of Government contracts with U.S. Cities and no new contracts
- Refusal to use Russian products at Government, City and State events
- Condemnation by U.S. and international celebrities, politicians, NGO’s and Government bodies through Resolutions,open letters and direct communication with Russia
- Denial of Visas into U.S. and U.K. of DUMA parliamentarians who support and voted for the hateful legislation
- An outright ban of Russian athletes competing in any international arena, in all sports, for as long as their gay competitors are unable to compete openly
- The FULL boycott of the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi Russia or the removal of the Games from Sochi with pressure on the IOC, the Sponsors, athletes, teams and NBC TV,
Until such time as the Russian DUMA (Parliament) rescinds the anti-gay-anti-propaganda law which is causing detentions, homophobic violence and the persecution of LGBTI Russians and allies.
UPDATE: SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WAVE A RAINBOW FLAG OF FREEDOM IN RUSSIA
See the video below of what happens when you unfurl a Rainbow flag in Russia. You are beaten and detained. Here is the evidence. Then ask yourself – if our athletes and visitors attended the Sochi Games and defied Russia’s law, of so called gay propaganda, which includes the unfurling of rainbow flags, and if they are given protection and not detained as the Russians were in this video – would we be okay with being treated as the exception? Would we want to contribute to being the exception while Russian continued to suffer this? All the while contributing our money to Russia’s homophobic economy? I hardly think so! So our Human Rights Campaign, U.S. Congress, State Sec Kerry and President Obama should not be calling for safety or special treatment of American athletes but rather for the removal of the Sochi Games to another venue. – Please ensure we do not go to SOCHI.
Short link: http://wp.me/pqRPa-42t
- U.S. Christian Extremist Sees Russia’s New Homophobic Laws as Model (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- San Francisco LGBT community calls on Mayor Ed Lee to Boycott Russia (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Gay teenager kidnapped and tortured by Russian homophobes believed to have died from injuries (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Boycott Sochi Games and Stephen Fry’s compelling letter (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- President Obama Condemns Russia’s Anti-Gay laws (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Academy Award winner risks arrest by waving rainbow flag in Red Square Moscow (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- The truth about Russian Vodka Boycotts, Stoli Stolichnaya and ALL OUT Boycotts (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- San Francisco LGBT community calls on Mayor Ed Lee to Boycott Russia (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Gays to Fly Rainbow Flag Outside Russian Consulate in San Francisco (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
25 thoughts on “Gay Rainbow Flag Creator says NO Rainbow Flags at Olympics in Sochi Russia”
This is plain awesome!!!! ““The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of LGBT freedom — it is not an endorsement of repression.” Gilbert Baker ……
Uganda had its second Pride March and the Rainbow flag was there to say many things: we shall overcome; our flag unites us worldwide, etc.
I think Gilbert is trying to say that we should not go to Sochi at all and think that flying a flag there substitutes the calls for removal of the games from the venue altogether. Of course the flag means different things to different people. It is certainly interesting to hear Gilbert on how he feels about it at SOCHI.
Melanie and Gilbert: I totally agree that the Olympic Games should not be held in Russia. If they are held, then I think the Olympic flag (in my opinion) is a symbol of protest. Kudos to Gilbert Baker for the flag’s creation, but that being said, I feel that it belongs to us all. People are risking beatings by police etc for hoisting it high and proud. It shown be prominently displayed at the Games, especially when a tyrant decrees that it MUST not be flown or displayed in anyway.
well the movement is gaining steam. I cannot see how the IOC can allow Russia to break the Charter rules and the conditions that were set prior to this new law. My sense is they will have to pull out.
Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
Hurrah!!! .. for Mr. Gilbert Baker ….. 🙂
I think you will get a good bit of discussion about this. As our rainbows are POSITIVE unlike HITLER’s Stars of David and Pink Triangles.
I agree with you, Melanie…if DUMA doesn’t do away with their anti-gay laws, then we shouldn’t send any of our athletes into this hostile environment. Flimsy verbal ‘promises’ cannot be trusted. The Olympic Games are something to which i look forward because they seem to be one arena in which the world’s people come together in peace and fellowship. In the past, host countries have opened their homeland and their hearts to visiting athletes, and to all of us around the world who watch ceremonies and events. I think of it as a kind of ‘open house’ and i’ve always enjoyed learning a little bit about the folks who live where the Games are taking place. This is what a good host or hostess does…puts out the good dishes, serves great food, behaves cordially, and makes guests feel welcome and comfortable. Did Russia not understand this when they put in a bid to host the Games?
I agree 100% with this – if the Olympics were not scheduled in the first place in Russia, what would become of their LGBT citizens then? What conversations would be occurring? And does anyone honestly think that waving a tiny rainbow cloth will make any difference in how those LGBT Russian citizens would be treated? The world must step up! In this day and age, with so much social media, everyone knows what is happening. It’s not a secret. If the major countries in the world turn away and abandon the Russian LGBT people, then they are just as complicit in the torture and discrimination of them as the Russian government itself. Something must be done now!
I think voting with your money, i.e. consumer democracy, is the only language the Russians understand, so I agree on not buying Russian products.
How to reach the IOC, I really do not know. What a stupid organisation that is!
I’ve written them and posted the email…
Reblogged this on tolerantpeople.
It’s very unlikely that the US or any other country will boycott the Olympics. It is unreasonable to expect any athlete to give up competing. That’s just reality. And seriously, all that we’ll be feeding is Putin’s rhetoric that the west is corrupt and at the mercy of deviants with the added bonus of Russia picking up the majority of medals after all the serious competitors bow out. He wins big political points and affirmation of his rhetoric.
However, I think it’s a bigger statement for every athlete to unfurl and fly in the face of Putin that the west values all its citizens. And if that’s a small little rainbow flag, a flag of pride in the face of oppression, it’s a far better snub than disappearing into the woodwork.
Of course you are entitled to your opinion Jim. However I encourage you to read more about Hitler and the 1936 games and how that emboldened his anti-Jewish laws, showing up at the games never stopped the holocaust. I also encourage you to read more about the impact of the anti-apartheid boycotts. History speaks volumes. The perceived unlikelihood of boycotts is not a reason to not call for them and the noise the call makes encourages all sorts of other actions such as that taken by Sen Mark Leno of California http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2013/08/09/senator-mark-leno-takes-a-stand-against-russian-anti-gay-laws-with-california-investment-resolution/ Now Russia will start to feel the impact…. thanks to all the noise. The real stirup will come from the call to move the Games from SOCHI and the impact on sponsors if they dont.
And by the way where do you get that this is about Putin’s rhetoric. It is NOT it is about an actual LAW – legislation that criminalizes the mere talking about being gay and the mere waving of a rainbow flag, as well as other acts that could fall within its wide definition.
Melanie – I agree with you again. And as you said, it’s not just about rhetoric – it is about LAWS. The discrimination of the Jews in pre-WWII Europe began gradually – one thing led to another. Laws were passed, people turned the other eye, and one day the Jews, gays, Romanis, etc. were in concentration camps. I am not being melodramatic – the camps did not happen overnight – these were systematic, deliberate actions. There is absolutely no reason for the world to look away now – it is happening in front of our eyes and it is our responsibility to protect Russia’s LGBT citizens.
People tend to ignore history. They do not realize just how awful and serious this is and how it is already playing out. You will see our calls for action are taking off as we speak. Thank you for your support.
WHOA……The Rainbow flag was first used by Jesse Jackson as a banner for his Rainbow Coalition. Gilbert Baker did NOT “create” anything.
He is credited for creating the flag as a symbol for LGBT freedom. Please cite your course., Gilbert dates to 1978 I believe
Hi Melanie, thanks for your message. Like your picture, but I think I’m a bit older than you.
I first became involved in this “war” in 1960-1961, and in the 1960’s, lived in Chicago, Washington, D.C. (attended President Kennedy’s funeral), Savannah and New York, mainly, and was active politically throughout.
I played host to Frank Kameny in the 1970’s (had a brief fling with Lenny Matlovich) and was a member of the Mattacchine Society.
Throughout all of this involvement, I never saw the Rainbow flag used to signify unity until Jesse Jackson chose it for the banner of his organization – early 1980’s as best I can recall.
We had the Lambda, of course, and a Greek symbol for women, but nothing else I can recall.
I am constantly overjoyed when I see LGBT marchers with their rainbow flags in countries where they suffer extreme discrimination. The rainbow flag is also a flag of protest and courage. It is the most easily recognized symbol of the LGBT world-wide movement. Personally, I want it to be raised wherever there is tyranny, as in my opinion it is a symbol fo freedom, and it says “We shall overcome!” We have to think of Russian homosexuals watching these games…it is this flag that the Russian government has banned! Let it rise, let it fly!
If the United States sends a team, gay and lesbian athletes should attend and they should attend and we should the rainbow flag anywhere and everywhere possible.
When the flag was first raised here, we were not free. It was a symbol of hope and defiance and it should remain such.
I support a boycott, but if we go…we show.