I greatly admire Avery Stone [“For gay athletes, the U.S. isn’t so warm,” Outlook, Dec. 29] and her writing, and I’m a fan of Go! Athletes. But I take exception to her comparison of the situations of Russian and American athletes when it comes to homophobia. I know comparing does not mean equating, but Ms. Stone suggested that the difference is minor when she concluded that “the U.S. sports world is not that much more enlightened than our opponents in Sochi.”
While the social and societal pressures in which homophobia in sport thrives in the United States are all too real, they are far from the legal oppression that Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face. The homophobia in Russia is not name-calling: it’s putting people in jail, it’s fining them, and it’s likely that it will soon be taking children from their parents.
I agree with Ms. Avery that U.S. sports organizations, schools, universities and federations need to do much more to fight homophobia in sport. But this call should not come by minimizing the real human cost of anti-gay oppression in Russia. We can all take action by supporting the work of Pride House International and the Russian Open Games, scheduled for Moscow between the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Marc Naimark, San Francisco
The writer is vice president of external affairs for the Federation of Gay Games.