Making it to the Olympics is the dream of a lifetime for athletes, but the situation in Russia has left more than a few feeling torn between their goals and their ethics. Gay Olympian Belle Brockhoff, an Australian snowboarder, has decided that while she won’t speak out. There are other ways to protest.
“I’m not afraid to express my opinion after the Games, but I don’t want any official to pull me aside or someone stop me at the border,” she told BBC Sport. The 21-year-old admitted that her parents are worried sick that she’ll be targeted while in Russia; besides that, to do something drastic would be risking her “Olympic dream.”
The display of any “traditional” LGBT symbols is obviously not an option; instead, Brockhoff plans to follow Principle 6’s lead. She told the BBC, “The most I’ll do is put up six fingers when there is a camera on me, for Principle 6.
“It is a way athletes and non-athletes can voice their opinions about discrimination without exactly protesting.”
The Principle 6 Campaign, founded by LGBT organizations All Out and Athlete Ally, is named after Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter; the Games’ own anti-discrimination policy 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.”
Brockhoff said, “I’m not going to go around to every kid in Russia and say, ‘Hey, gay is OK.’ That’s not why I’m there. I was never even thinking about doing that. I just want to support the LGBT community.”
If she wins the gold in her event, though, that might be another story. She explained, “I’ll make my opinion heard, but I also know that if I don’t get a gold medal, most people won’t care about my opinion. People only care about your opinion if you win gold, or if you’ve made it big-time before.”
According to BBC Sport, however, Brockhoff didn’t sound so practical back in January, when she was quoted as stating she was “willing to rip on Putin’s ass” after her event was over.
Brockhoff admitted, “That was a joke. I got carried away. I want to listen to what Putin has to say, or what his government has to say as to why these laws are in place and what they’re actually doing to help protect the LGBT community.”
She added, “The feedback has been mostly positive. I’ve had a lot of support,” but “I got some Twitter abuse—‘Belle Brockhoff, I hope you get arrested in Russia, you dowdy, horrible, aggressive dyke.’
“I won’t share the name but this guy, he actually created this one account to send that tweet to me. I feel pretty special. Thank you.”