Monday, August 19, 2013

Kseniya Ryzhova / Tatyana Firova = Tommie Smith / John Carlos?

I saw something this weekend and had no idea that I may have been watching history. Russian track stars, Kseniya RyzHova and Tatyana Firov, violated the anti-gay laws of Russia by protesting at the IAAF track championships in Moscow. The Russians won the gold medal in the 4 x 400 meter sprints for the first time in roughly 10 years. They celebrated/protested with a kiss on the medal podium. Was this similar to Tommie Smith and John Carlos holding up the Black Power Fist on the podium in the '68 Olympics in Mexico?  Was this the opportunity for a breakthrough in the LGBT community that they have been looking for as of late?


Russian laws state that no one is allowed to discuss or display homosexuality in front of children.  However, what Ryzhova and Firova did put them on display not only in front of the children in the Moscow stadium, but also around the world.  It was the boldest in-your-face slap to Russian leaders that one could show on broadcast television.

It reminded me of a part of history I wasn't old enough to see which occurred during the '68 Olympics in Mexico City.  200 meter sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith represented the United States during a time there was conflict in South Africa and racial segregation in America.  To show solidarity with both movements, Carlos and Smith raised their fists (with black gloves on) to indicate Black Power.  They did it on the medal stand as the National Anthem was played despite the fact that it would piss off plenty of people here in the states.  In fact, the two lived as outcasts to many people instead of Olympic heroes for a long time because of the gesture.

Will the iconic display of affection during Sunday's event will have the same effect in Russia that the Black Power pose had in the United States?  The Olympics is no stranger to protests of all sorts, so it makes you wonder what some athletes may have in store for the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  Although I don't think that the struggle of Gay Rights equally compares to that of Civil Rights, I do think that they sometimes take the same paths.  Just like the Civil Rights Movement, the Olympics could wind up being the portal to project the LGBT movement to the world.

The Olympics had quite an impact on me as a young boy and it still resonates with me to this very day.  I have a poster of the Black Power pose on the wall of my man cave along with Muhammad Ali, who won gold in the 1960 Olympics, and Jessie Owens, who made a statement against Hitler with four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics.

Could we one day see a poster on the walls of Russian teens of the Russian sprinters kissing?  Then again, a poster of two Russian ladies kissing wouldn't be bad for American men to put in their rooms either.  LOL!  What?  I'm just sayin'!

Do you think this move will ultimate pay off for the Russian ladies or will they come to regret it?

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