The rainbows of Sochi


Rainbows – or just tacky? The Germany Olympic team uniforms have been seen by some as a deliberate gesture of LGBT solidarity. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

When Germany unveiled its Olympics team costumes, at least some people on the Internet assumed that the rainbow cast of the parkas was a deliberate challenge to the Russian anti-gay laws, a not-so-veiled reference to the rainbow flag that has become the emblem of LGBT pride.

Others, however, point to the official Sochi volunteers’ outfits, which are at least as colorful, and at least as rainbow-y, to demonstrate that the gesture was not likely to be interpreted as a provocation on the Germans’ part.


Olympic volunteers dance in the Olympic Park. The official volunteers’ outfits of the Sochi games are at least as rainbow-y, if not more so, than the German team outfits. EPA/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Nonetheless, for many people rainbows have become an unofficial symbol of the Sochi games: a gesture of colorful resistance to Russia’s anti-gay stance. In 2012, I wrote about the tradition on Ravelry, an on-line community for fiber artists and hobbyists, of knitting or crocheting or spinning something along with the Olympics, starting during the opening ceremonies and completing it during the closing ceremonies. This year, dozens if not hundreds of people (official tallies won’t be available until the close of the games) are knitting rainbow scarves, mittens, socks, hats, and sweaters.

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.
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Anne Midgette · February 7