You have to be living in a cave to not know that the Sochi Olympics are coming up in just a few weeks. Commercials, ads, and news programs are all creating buzz around the important international sporting event. As much in the spotlight as the sports themselves has been the comments of conservative Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the strict anti-gay laws enacted by the government.
Traditional media channels are only one way to stay up to date with the protests of Russia’s anti-gay legislation. Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter are ‘going for the gold’ with coverage of the politics around the games and their activist activity. LGBT organizers are using social media to not only protest the treatment of gay athletes, Russians, and visitors, but calling out major sponsors of the Olympic games. One amazing example is the social media take over of #CheersToSochi on Twitter. As reported by GLAAD, the hashtag was originated by Olympic sponsor McDonald’s, to create positive chatter about the games. Instead, LGBT advocates have taken over the hashtag to report on Russia’s anti “gay-propaganda” laws and the culture of LGBT-target violence created by Russia’s stance. Similarly, LGBT advocates have recreated a 1970’s Coke ad intertwining images from the original video “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, with images of Russian government protests. This video adds to the strong online criticism of Coca-Cola for sponsoring the Sochi Olympics.
This shows once again that no one controls social media, and that well organized activists can create a movement with the many free tech tools available to them.
Want to stay up to date with what is happening regarding LGBT advocacy at #Sochi2014? Check out the following twitter hashtags, handles, and websites, then join the conversation!
It Gets Better Project & Uprising of Love are teaming up with a number of leading LGBTI organizations to host a series of online Google hangouts during an Olympics inspired LGBTI Rights week. These hangouts will engage the larger community in discussion about the importance of acceptance in sports while also discussing LGBTI rights generally. http://www.uprisingoflove.org/hangoutsonair/
Principle 6, a campaign inspired by the values of the Olympic charter, is a way for athletes, spectators and global supporters to celebrate the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and call for an end to Russia’s anti-gay laws before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. http://www.principle6.org/
The It Gets Better Project (IGB), just last month launched a powerful campaign called “You Are Beautiful” to connect with and support young gay people in Russia. As Mashable reported, It Gets Better is asking ordinary people from around the world to submit videos and written messages of support to Russia’s gay teen community: “To the LGBT youth of Russia, you are beautiful inside and out.” http://www.itgetsbetter.org/content/russia
Outsports, is a leader in gay sports news, commentary, photos and videos. Their goal is making sure that being a gay athlete or gay sports fan is not an oxymoron. http://www.outsports.com/
The Gay Games are an international sporting and cultural event held every four years. Launched in 1982, the Games invite participation from all athletes—regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status. http://www.gg9cle.com/