In 2010, the Pride House Internationalmovement began in Canada when local LGBT activists and athletes launched two stand-alone pavilions in Whistler and Vancouver during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The venues had LGBT Sport, Culture and Human rights display with their primary objective to create awareness of homophobia within sport and to create a dialogue within sport that is more inclusive. Pride Houses provide a place where the achievements of LGBT athletes, their allies for LGBT sport fans and their friends can be celebrate LGBT participation in sport.
The principle of the venue was explained by the founder of the Pride House movement, Dean Nelson, “We imagined a Pride House that would dare to make public the awareness of homophobia and transphobia in sport. It would be a safe venue for athletes, support staff and spectators to participate at the Olympics with authentic connection that celebrated our diversity through sports and friendships.”
Nelson added that since the success of the 2010 Winter Games, Pride Houses have been activated at the UEFA Euro Football Championship and the London Olympics in 2012. As of right now, efforts are being made to have Pride Houses at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 Pan Am Games, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Missing from the list are the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games.
An application by a Russian NGO to host a Pride House in Sochi was refused by Russian judiciary earlier this year. Pride House International has taken the rejection as a challenge and continues to ensure that the LGBT participation and achievement at the Sochi Winter games is celebrated through Pride House events hosted in the national houses of sympathetic National Olympic Committees.
Pride House International has launched efforts to partner with national houses at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. The intent is to overcome the legal obstacles placed by Russian authorizes and to create of network of venues allowing the promotion of the Olympic principle of sport for all.
Pride House International hopes to see a safe and welcoming place for the LGBT community in Sochi. PHI is working with national houses to offer a schedule of Pride House events throughout the duration of the 2014 Winter Games. They are currently in discussion with a few national houses to see if they would consider offering one or more days or evenings of programming that is based on the tradition of past Pride Houses. Examples of such include exhibition on LGBT athletes, films on LGBT sport, talks and panel discussions on issues concerning inclusion and diversity in sport, etc.
The efforts that PHI is making are not an attempt to protest Russian anti-gay laws. Keph Senett, part of the PHI leadership group, said, “We’re not planning a demonstration, and the content of Pride House is not political, unless you consider that calls for sport open to all, for freedom from discrimination in sport, for freedom of expression and assembly are political. Since these values are found in the Olympic Charter and the governing documents of the International Paralympic Committee, we think that a place where they are honored and respected should be very welcome at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Pride House International is seeking funding from corporate and non-profit entities to allow for this complex project to be implemented. The goal is for there to a Pride House event every day during the Sochi Games. Lou Englefield, Coordinator at Pride House International, stated, “We think the greatest impact for Pride House events in Sochi is ensured by multiplying a presence in national house.” He notes that there are significant logistics challenges but is hopeful in the outcome of the current discussion with national houses.
Englefield has called on supports to contact their National Olympic Committees to urge them to hose Pride House events during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Tweet to the US Olympic Committee: @USOlympic Please host a Pride House event in Sochi