10 February 2014
A lot of people have said they wouldn’t watch the Olympics because of Russia’s stance on LGBT issues.
It’s been really hard for me, and that’s why I’ve taken so long to write this. In general, I watch only the Olympics when it comes to sports. The last live sporting event I saw was the U.S. Figure Skating Championships when they were in San Jose a couple years back.
I remember being that horse-struck teenager who saved up money from an early job to get lessons from a really great dressage rider. I remember getting to ride an Olympic horse. He had quite the sense of humor, that one.
And I remember later figuring out that winter sports really were my thing even though I don’t particularly like being cold. And that I got in a lot of trouble (which I will write about later) for arranging things to usurp the last slot of a great ice dance teacher. She’d been the partner of a guy who tended to cut the balance a little close; her career had ended when his fall spiral fractured her leg. He later went on to skate in national and international competitions with a subsequent partner. She was stuck standing around in moon boots with people like me trying to do school figures. And stuff.
Sadly, that knee that gives me fits now? If only I’d known it was defective then. I competed on it, which no doubt helped a bunch. Not.
I’ve only ever seen one winter Olympics event live. I happened to have an interview with Alphasmart, who was looking for a Mac programmer. The first round of interviews had gone well. Could I go to the Salt Lake area for a final round? Sure. In February 2002? Absolutely.
Airline tickets for the Olympics were inobtanium at any kind of reasonable price, but I was going to get to go for free? Bonus.
So I asked them to fly me on the first flight out and the last flight back, which they did. I paid for the women’s hockey semifinals ticket. The US won against Sweden, 4-0.
I don’t know how many people I know have ever seriously studied an Olympic sport or ever seriously hoped to compete. I did. I have a clue how much work it is, and that’s why I feel it’s so disrespectful to all the athletes who put in such hard work for so many years to boycott the games — especially since some of them are LGBT.
So here’s my thought: I’m going to root for the countries who have great LGBT policies to win as many medals as possible. And let’s give an extra cheer for all the LGBT athletes, out or not, and hope they win something really special.
I wish it weren’t Russia and fucking Olympics politics again. In 1980, 65 countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics. What’s really struck me, though, is how much freer generally the people in the former Soviet Union are now than they were then—and that’s the other reason a boycott is difficult for me. I remember the stories about how difficult it was for artists, musicians, dancers, and athletes to travel back then.
A lot can change in 34 years, but a lot still has to, too.