The thing you’ve been working for, all of your life?
That comes to fruition today?
The people in charge of this glorious time
Will turn you away if you’re gay.
Your colleagues, your teammates, your family, your friends,
(And you) couldn’t be more excited—
But if any of you has the wrong sort of love
Then—officially—you’re not invited.
You’ve worked all your life for this singular chance
But your hosts want to give you a choice
You can stand up and fight for the things that are right
Or compete, but keep silent your voice
I know what I want—cos I think of my friend—
You should stand up for her, and her wife…
It’s the right thing to do, which is easy to say
Since I haven’t worked all of your life.
I have known two (perhaps three, but I am bad with names, so am uncertain) Olympic athletes. One (maybe two) was my student. This student would have represented the US in the 1980 Summer Olympics… but that was the year of the boycott.
In my twitter feed, a simple and true statement: “When you tweet about Olympics, its like you’re tweeting about a party to which people like me were not invited. On purpose. By shitty hosts.”
For one person I care about, the Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime chance, the ultimate reward (regardless of medaling) for decades of hard work, deferment of any sort of payment, and dedication beyond anything I have personally ever accomplished. For another person I care about, the Olympics are a slap in the face, a denial of basic humanity, an insult on a global scale.
And they are both right, and I can’t honor both.
It would seem easy to say that one is being hurt (if I take the other side), the other merely not advancing to a privileged peak beyond other peaks in what really is just a game. But that does not accurately describe my Olympians, really. They did not come from privilege (though, yes, the earlier Olympians did–only those who could afford to be “amateur” athletes were admitted). They worked incredibly hard, and got incredibly lucky. They are victims of the Russian hosts (not at all in the same sense as GLBT athletes, spectators, support, or citizens), not perpetrators of discrimination.
I’ve been an Olympics junkie since 1968. The politics is horrendous, but the athletes are able to rise above it–as, in 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos showed. 1972 showed terrorism saw the Olympics as a target; 1980 showed that politics saw it as fair game as well. And while I’m sure there may have been athletes who embodied the nationalism, or capitalism or communism, or discrimination by race, gender, class, sexuality, or more, other (more? I hope so, but have no numbers) athletes have used the platform to protest, to advance, to overcome.
Yes, I’m an atheist, but I do still believe in the Olympic games. At least for now. The hosts are indeed shitty, but (I hope, I hope, I hope) it’s the guests that make a party. And they want everybody there–most of them do, anyway–and are working to make sure you get invited to the rest of the parties.
And… I am willing to be wrong. I know I am biased. So as much as I want to make this an Olympics-positive site (I know other FtB bloggers are less than enthused with the games), the comments are open for arguments that I am wrong, misguided, or simply full of shit. (or right, of course, but hey.)