Actor and LGBT activist George Takei is well known not only for his Star Trek character Mr. Sulu, but most recently for his amazing power on social media. With over 4.4 million Facebook fans and almost 800,00 Twitter followers, Takei’s force is the stuff of legends.
Plus, he’s really good at it.
His social media is engaging, funny, thought provoking and smart. If you’re a fan of his page, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re not a fan of his page… go there right now so you know what I’m talking about.
On August 6th, George Takei put a post up on his Facebook page. One that so far has generated close to 40,000 likes, 12,000 shares and over 4,000 comments.
*Image source: Facebook
Simply and eloquently put, George explained in 3 sentences and a linked blog post what he felt about the new Russian Law, and made a suggestion that the Olympics actually be moved from Sochi to Vancouver, BC — where they were successfully hosted in 2010.
What's the law all about? In late June, Russia signed a new law, one which imposes fines on individuals accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors and proposes penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media.
Although the Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has stated that the new law wasn't designed to punish anyone for being gay or lesbian, he did say that Olympic athletes would be punished for propaganda, which is a word kind of open to all sorts of interpretation.
The interpretation of what "propaganda" means is already starting. Last week at the world Track and Field Championships in Moscow Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro painted her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow flag in support of Russia's gay community. Her actions prompted prompted Russian pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva to state that what the Swedish athlete did was disrespectful to Russia.
So... this is disrespectful propaganda?
Image source: Instagram
The new Russian law itself is SO upsetting, and this suggestion to move the games to Vancouver is an interesting spin on the various boycotts people are putting to Russia right now. Is moving the games even possible? I don’t think so. The former Athlete’s Village has been converted into condos and sold. Olympic venues have been transformed into community centres and are being used for events already booked. However, I’m always one to say that anything is possible so you never know.
But what’s important here is that, through the power of social media, a blog post and an online petition, the world is aware of what’s going on and are talking about it. It’s an incredibly important discussion and one that will definitely make some of us look at the 2014 Olympics from a different perspective.
And truthfully, I’m a bit sad that this controversy has taken away from what the spirit of the Olympic games are. Speaking as someone who lived the excitement of the 2010 Olympic games being in their hometown, this isn’t want the Olympics should be about. Athletes shouldn’t be fearful in a host country. They shouldn’t be scared and afraid, they should be proud and focusing solely on their athletic performance.
To find out more about the online petition George Takei is talking about, take a look at this video, and read the full petition here.
Then, in February 2014, let’s cheer on our Canadian Olympic athletes and feel proud of whatever flag they fly, maple leaf or rainbow.
Image source: Gage Skidmore