Update: Shortly after this post was originally published, @McDonaldsCorp tweeted the following message: "#CheersToSochi is about sending Olympians messages of good luck. We support human rights & all athletes. Learn more: http://t.co/XzfRJw4nQu"
In a move that demonstrates social media as a space for advocacy, as well as the wide range of support for LGBT people in Russia, McDonald's experienced a huge response after they launched "#CheersToSochi" this week.
The fast food giant encouraged followers to use the hashtag on Twitter in preparation for the upcoming Winter Olympics, of which McDonald's is a major corporate sponsor. Instead, individuals and organizations alike are using #CheersToSochi as a way to support Russia's LGBT advocates and speak out against the country's anti-gay, so-called "propaganda law." The law aims to silence the community and its supporters, and has also enhanced a culture of anti-LGBT violence.
McDonald's introduced the hashtag a few days ago (which in internet time, means about a century has passed), but the conversation is continuing in full force. Check out some of the ways people are sending their Cheers to Sochi:
#CheersToSochi athletes, but not to McDonalds' ignoring the boots on the necks of Russian LGBT— Jerry Lambert (@vegaslamb) January 24, 2014
Gay isn't something that rubs off to another person, violence on the other hand is taught! #CheersToSochi #WakeUpNow #LGBT #straightforgayhttp://www.glaad.org/blog/advocates-equality-reclaim-cheerstosochi-twitter#overlay=node/69673/edit— Malin Eriksson (@ErikssonMalin85) January 24, 2014
Additional corporate sponsors of the Olympics have been included in the online discussion as well:
In response to the unanticipated direction in which their campaign has gone, both the @McDonalds and @McDonaldsCorp accounts have seemingly ceased using the hashtag, but are still putting out positive messages about the Olympics in Sochi. Instead of including the phrase "#CheersToSochi," however, the tweets simply end in a shortened link to a website about McDonald's "Cheers To Sochi" campaign. And also this special shout out, earlier today:
We're so lucky to have the smartest, funniest, most attractive Twitter friends in the whole world! ;) #nationalcomplimentday— McDonald's Corp. (@McDonaldsCorp) January 24, 2014
According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, addressing these sponsors is an important element in speaking out against the treatment of LGBT people in Russia: "In August 2013 HRW's Worden told Michelangelo Signorile that they could have stopped Russia's anti-gay law -- and didn't."
What are your thoughts the Olympics and Russia's anti-gay law? Share your support for the global LGBT community by tweeting your own #CheersToSochi.