I hate slotting people into little boxes. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Everyone has an identity, but the way they identify may not be their entire identity, and it’s certainly not the most interesting thing about them. I’m also a big believer in acceptance, which means I don’t believe that one facet of a person’s character needs to be made into a big, deal-breaking issue in order for them to be loved and accepted.
Like being gay, for instance.
Now would probably be a good time to tell you that I’m gay. I’ve been out since I was 18. I’ve dated members of both sexes, but at this point in my life, I prefer women. As a bisexual, I’m often pigeonholed, disbelieved, scorned, and scoffed at. I have experienced discrimination and homophobia. Being bisexual, even within the acceptance of the LGBT world, is tough. However, it’s who I am, and it’s part of my identity. It’s actually a very important part of my personal identity, but it’s not the sum total of who I am as a person.
In fact, I’d probably say that being bisexual is one of the least important things that you need to know about me. It certainly shouldn’t be something that you judge me on, especially in a work or creative setting. And I tend to agree with a lot of my friends and family when they say that it’s none of anyone’s business but my own and the person I’m dating. I’d say that goes for everyone.
However, in the case of the imminent 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, it’s stopped being just my personal business. It’s now becoming something that hinges my values, my beliefs, and my decisions when it comes to these Olympics. And the reason for that is because the Sochi Olympics have not been welcoming to gay athletes, or people who support gay athletes. Russia has been in the news a lot lately for their approach to the LGBT community. Long story short, being gay in Russia is extremely difficult. Being a gay athlete travelling to Russia for these Olympics is going to be extremely difficult. And my first reaction to the ongoing news about Russia and the LBGT community is to boycott the Olympics altogether.
In fact, I’ve had people ask me if that’s what I plan to do, as a bisexual person. But that’s where the fact that being gay is only one part of me comes in. I’m also a staunchly patriotic Canadian. And I love the winter Olympics, a lot.
There’s a crossroads, here, for me. Because the delegation travelling from Canada to Sochi is also comprised of staunchly patriotic Canadians and talented athletes. Some of them happen to be gay. And I want to see them succeed and prove the Russian establishment wrong – that gay people are not only the same as straight people, but they’re also people with value, with talent, and with strength. Being gay is not a choice. I was born this way, and they were born this way. I want to see them succeed. I want to cheer them on. But I have been torn, because I don’t know if I want to support Russia and their corrupt Olympic Games.
See, being gay shouldn’t matter, especially in 2014. It should be none of anyone’s business. It shouldn’t be a deciding factor in whether or not you are considered a valuable member of society. It shouldn’t be a reason for a government to decide that you are corrupt, evil, or perverted. It shouldn’t be anything but a sexual orientation. I like men and women. It’s just a part of who I am.
But it does matter. It continues to matter. People continue to be hurt and killed in the struggle for acceptance. Governments continue to restrict rights. So in this case, it matters whether or not we support the Sochi Olympics. It matters what message we send to the world. It matters how gay athletes from all over the globe are treated and welcomed in any Olympic Games.
So, this is my message. I will be supporting the Canadian Olympic Team. I will be cheering them on, wishing them gold, and watching them once again shine on the world stage. Straight or gay, I will be supporting them. No matter what Vladimir Putin thinks, I will be supporting them.
I don’t support the Russian government and their laws. But I not only support Canadian athletes, I support all the gay athletes travelling to Sochi. I support their right to perform after years of hard work. I support their right to be straight or gay, for who they love to be something that’s just a small part of who they are and how they perform in their chosen sport to be what they are judged on.
I support gay athletes not only because I am gay, but because I’m a human being.
This isn’t about sexual orientation. This is about human rights. Everyone should have a chance to play safely and without restriction.
Go, Team Canada, Go!