Gay rights and the Olympics – where was the outrage?

(By Vallard Forsythe). Well, the Olympics came and went, and I must admit I was a little surprised to see that the issue of human rights, and specifically gay rights, just never seemed to get mentioned once, to my knowledge. So despite all the pre-Olympic blabber about a possible boycott of the Sochi games and the murmurs about the possible plans people had to make a statement in favor of gay rights, it appears as though polite decorum won out where I had anticipated some lively debate. Quiet cooperation with avoidance of conflict or friction seemed the behavior of the athletes and visitors, and even the media, that participated in Sochi.

As for me, I’ve found the attitude of the Russian Prime Minister to be creepy and downright disgusting for the past year. When he made his comments about gay people being “tolerated” during the winter games but added “but stay away from our children,” I was stunned that there was no international backlash for such a clearly homophobic and ignorant statement.

So while the standard track season is over for the year, and the Olympic flame is out, our regional adult figure skating season, in which I participate, is still just heating up. So in choosing my music for this years “Dramatic” competition, this small town veterinarian decided to skate to something that would feel cathartic and help take away that nagging yucky feeling I’ve had lately.

E14_1809This year I’m skating to “Stars,” sung by Russel Crowe, from the film “Les Miserables,” However, the theme in my skating routine is varied from the theme in the movie. In my routine, my character is skating as a renegade who will never give up until he finds the hateful dictator behind bars.

I debuted this program, and my own form of protest, at the Midwinter Warm Up competition in Artesia, California a few weeks ago. The judges were somewhat stunned to see a photo of Vladimir Putin on the front of my costume. The audience enjoyed the surprise ending of the routine, when I slide a rainbow flag out of my sleeve and go down on one knee. Take that, Vlad!

Unfortunately, my routine was six seconds over the allotted time limit, so I was essentially disqualified for a medal. However, with Pacific Coast Sectionals in Ontario on March 8 and U.S. Adult Nationals on April 10, there is still plenty of time to refine the program and see if I can wake a few people up.

After all, if anybody who showed up in Sochi had the wherewithal to point out the hatred and atrocities being leveled at gays in Russia, I suppose you have to leave it up to the grown-ups here at home to take a swing. And yes, I know that I need to sleep with one eye open after dawning this outfit and skating in public. But I just can’t be less than I am, and hope to encourage others to skate with a message, too.

Dr. Vallard Forsythe is a Sonoma veterinarian and avid figure skater.


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