News & Politics

Waving the Flag at Sochi

ShannonShannon is a lesbian housewife with two homeschooled daughters. She and her partner, Cole, were extra-legally married in 2003 and adopted their children through domestic, open, transracial adoption in 2005 and 2007. Shannon has been writing about culture, politics, race, religion and family since 2000 both online and off. She writes at her personal blog, Peter’s Cross Station, and in places like, Adoptive Families Magazine, Gay Chicago Magazine and She is also a budding novelist and a serial hobbyist. Her latest addiction is crochet. Shannon has too many degrees, including, but not limited to a PhD in American literature and accompanying student loan debt that will probably outlive her. She and her family live near Lake Michigan in Chicago.

Remember when Barack Obama announced he had “evolved” about gay marriage? I didn’t believe him for a second. What I believed was that the announcement of his evolution came out strategically on the heels of a poll suggesting that overall public support of gay marriage had just tipped over the 50% mark. It was now not only politically safe to be pro-gay marriage, it was an asset. I don’t believe for a minute that he ever didn’t believe gay marriage was just fine.

Now we are post-U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have pushed the law and popular opinion far enough into pro-queer territory that everyone and their Grammy award wants to announce how much they heart the gays. It’s a good marketing move. The nay-sayers just aren’t cool anymore.

But I have always said, “It’s chic to know a lesbian, but not so much to Nageswari be a lesbian.” This is still the case, as we see in the rush to put out rainbow-laced advertisements at, about, or adjacent to the Olympics in Sochi. Helping actual queer people who are risking their lives for a kiss on the streets of Russian cities is not the point of this advertising. The point is to take the focus off the fact that no one—not a corporation, not an athlete, not a nation (that I’ve heard about—please correct me if I’m wrong) and certainly not the International Olympic Committee, has really done anything concrete, risky, sacrificing or controversial to bring change to the lives of those bruised and beaten queer Russians or to inconvenience or shame the government that at best turns a blind eye to their suffering and at worst, encourages it.

It’s not unlike the brilliant move Coke made when it got everyone to defend its multilingual Super Bowl ad, while it is busily abusing and exploiting people in Spanish-speaking countries (and others) outside of America the Beautiful.

I am not casting aspersions on anyone who is enjoying the Olympics. But I decline to celebrate corporations for slapping a rainbow on their logo. They aren’t doing us any favors. They are using our oppression as a tool to market their products to us. And that’s disgusting and cynical—not cute, not funny, not revolutionary.

Keep your pride flags, Olympic sponsors. I know exactly how much your “support” cost you. Nothing.


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  1. YES. THIS. I am tired of being told I should be so thrilled to be included in ad campaigns — as if subtextual use of lesbianism hasn’t been a mainstay of fashion ads for years.

  2. I agree and, yet, I also appreciate that it is now considered “good business” to be pro-gay. Says a lot about change over time.

  3. The slideshow of runway models at this year’s NYC fashion week actually looked like tran boys. Or cis boys, for that matter. Fashion does love it some shock-value queers.

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