Playing for the Other Team: Putin’s Follies


We’re up all night ‘til the sun

We’re up all night to get some

We’re up all night for good fun

We’re up all night to get lucky.

Nope, no gay undertones here.  Especially not when sung by the Russian Gay Men’s Chorus, excuse me, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.  I must admit, in the final days leading up to the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, I was filled with a sense of dread and apprehension.  Something was going to happen.  I didn’t know what, but I could feel it coming.  There were threats of terrorism from various extremist groups, anxiety amongst GLBT athletes and fans about their welcome, and general unease as to whether Sochi was ready to host, with buildings and bathrooms incomplete and streets unpaved.

Something happened all right.  The Russian Police Choir sang Daft Punk.  In full military uniform.

Was it just me, or did the scene slightly resemble Captain Von Trapp singing “Edelweiss” at the end of The Sound of Music?  You know, onstage at the Salzburg Music Festival while the Nazis waited for him, right before escaping with his family to Switzerland?  Of course you do, I know my audience.

The men sure looked nervous, and I don’t blame them.  One wrong flick of the wrist, one sinful hip swivel, and they might have been whisked offstage.  I’m surprised they didn’t promptly all arrest each other for violating the Gay Propaganda Law.  Weirdo mustached man, at least, was definitely looking to get violated.  Seriously.  YouTube it.

Next up, Swan Lake.  Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov had insisted that Sochi had no gay people.  Um, I just found them all.

The headlines screamed “Sorry Vlad, That Was the Gayest Opening Ceremony Ever,” (Slate Magazine) and “Putin’s Way-Gay Opening Ceremony” (Daily Beast).  Then, the world let out a collective sigh of relief, and the Games were underway as normal.  As normal as could be, anyway, with animal activist groups descending upon the city to gather up and save all the stray dogs the Russian government had begun to euthanize.  (As far as I could tell, this angered the GLBT community as much, if not more than the oppressing the gays.  Nothing gets lesbians riled up faster than hurting puppies.)

Minnesotan Olympians have been successful in making their presence known in numerous events, including hockey, curling, and skiing.  USA women’s hockey boasts five current or former Gophers, including current NCAA Player of the Year Amanda Kessel (whose brother Phil is a forward for the men’s hockey team) and as of press time has defeated Finland and Switzerland, which pits them off against long-time rival and defending gold medal winner Canada.

Seven out gay athletes are competing in Sochi as well, all of whom are women.  Ahem.  Looking at you, men’s figure skating.  Thankfully, former Olympian Johnny Weir remains true to self, attracting attention wearing a new fabulous and flamboyant outfit each day while serving as an analyst and commentator.  Ireen Wüst, a speedskater from the Netherlands became the first out athlete to medal, winning Gold in the 3000 meters.

The Games will be wrapping up by the time this column hits the stands, and, knock on wood, the worries of a scary “something” happening never materialized.  Unless, of course, you’re Bob Costas.  Whatever is going on in his eyeballs is pretty scary.  To small children watching television.  Go home, Bob.  You’re drunk.

As the games continue, the rest of the world has moved on to newer stories, including that of a star college football player predicted to be drafted high in May’s NFL draft who shocked the sporting world by announcing he is gay.  More on the impact of his decision to football and the GLBT community in the next issue.  In the meantime, I’ll continue watching Putin’s Totally Not Gay Olympics, and hope that the Americans and the lezzies continue to “Get Lucky.”

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