While the Olympics Games are being held in Sochi, GLAAD is awarding the GLAAD Gold to media outlets, newsmakers, LGBT advocates, and those who raise awareness of LGBT people in Russia and around the world. GLAAD will also be pushing stories of LGBT Russians to media and speaking out against outlets that keep LGBT issues invisible.
For pre-Olympic coverage, Bob Costas and his guest Vladimir Pozner receive the first GLAAD Gold for describing the anti-LGBT backdrop of the Olympic Games. Costas didn't waste any time, opening NBC's Olympic coverage of the games by mentioning Russia's anti-LGBT and human rights violations. Hopefully other sports commentators will follow his lead.
Costas followed up by interviewing Vladimir Pozner, a Russian-American journalists, and David Remnick, from the New Yorker Magazine. The interview discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who heavily pushed for the games, as well as for Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.
Costas: "What is the likely practical effect, if any, on athletes and visitors, of the anti-gay propaganda law?
Pozner: I think zero. No effect at all. I don’t see anything happening. In fact, I think that they, the powers that be, are going to be super careful to see that nothing happens to any gay athletes or guests during the Olympics.
Costas: What about gay Russians and their supporters after the Olympics pack up and leave?
Pozner: Gay Russians have a very tough time. I've known some who have been on the brink of suicide. Others who want to leave the country. This is a homophobic country. I would guess that 85% of the population is really, really anti-gay. I mean, it can be physical. They are in a very difficult situation. And the law that was passed, although it is a law to protect minors from gay propaganda, in fact, plays into the whole homophobic mentality.
"NBC has a strong start out of the gate, but Olympics coverage is a marathon," said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis. "This discussion of the harsh nature of Russia's anti-LGBT laws is encouraging and GLAAD will be working with all outlets covering the Games to move the discussion from one around policy to one centered on the faces and real stories of those who are most impacted, LGBT Russians."
Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, GLAAD will continue working with international LGBT organizations, athletes and LGBT Russians to secure media coverage for the stories of LGBT Russians, their families and the harms facing them in Russia. GLAAD has also released GLAAD Global Voices: 2014 Sochi Olympics Playbook, a resource guide for journalists covering the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. For more information, visit www.glaad.org/russia.