By: Abby Reese
Tyler Streckert stands at 6’5’’, tall and lanky with glasses and side-swept hair. He may never be in the Olympics (unless he competed in the speed walking category), but he definitely has a unique perspective on Russian LGBT laws. Belonging to the small minority of same-sex attracted Christians, he takes a stance that is counter-cultural to those sporting Proposition 6 American Apparel clothing.
Due to new Russian laws, American Apparel and other retailers have begun selling apparel that supports the Olympic charter, which states “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Masses of gay rights groups are buying these clothes adorned with “P6” and “Proposition 6.”
On the other hand, same-sex attracted Streckert says, “I wouldn’t wear it in general because I just don’t wear graphic ts.” But all fashion statements aside, he thinks that “we should take care to speak biblically about these laws. If [Russia] had a theocracy, our Christian response would look different than it should under the current circumstances–we have to be careful to be considerate of LGBT athletes.”
Streckert empathizes how hard it would be to go to a country unsupportive of his sexuality and compete in the face of prejudice. “LBGT athletes have their special skills to offer that they have worked hard for years to develop the special skills necessary to compete. They should be allowed without stigma to do so at the winter Olympics” said Streckert.
While he does feel that “Russia’s stringent anti-gay laws seem unhealthy both for the country and for other countries competing in the Olympics to affirm,” he wouldn’t choose to join in protests, like the vodka dumping demonstration that occurred in Los Angeles last week.
Many of the LGBT Olympians feel the same way. Johnny Weir, an openly gay American athlete, said in an interview with the Huffington Post: “I could never boycott the Olympics whether they be in Pyongyang (in North Korea), in Uganda, in Iran or Mars…being an Olympic athlete was something that I chose and something I worked hard for and I’ll see it to any necessary end.
“I see the Olympics for what they are – it’s young people performing for their country and for glory. That’s how I see the Olympics, I don’t see them as a political protest.”
This is disappointing to many Gay rights activists, as they are hoping athletes and others use the Feb. 7-23 sporting extravaganza as a venue for protest.
Gay rights groups in America have feared that gay athletes and fans could be prosecuted if they attend the Olympics. Gay rights activists in Russia, however, say the new law has given momentum to an anti-gay movement in Russia, which in some instances has turned violent.
“The latest laws against so-called gay propaganda, first in the regions and then on the federal level, have essentially legalised violence against LGBT people, because these groups justify their actions with these laws,” a report from the Guardian stated. “With this legislation, the government said that, yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group.”
In the face of reports like this, Streckert hopes that the Russian government will become more inclusive and supportive to their people. “We ought to promote a biblical standard of living, but at every level, allow for people to exist, acknowledging people’s distinctness and engaging them. Love people’s existence,” said Streckert.