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Why I Won't Wear A Rainbow Ribbon To Support Russia's Queer Community In Sochi – By Deidre Hall

I believe that sporting events are not a forum for expressing personal religious, social or political views. However, I have not objected when fellow performers have worn rainbow ribbon to express their support for Russia’s queer community; that’s their choice. My choice is NOT to wear a ribbon. Soap Opera Digest readers should know wearing a rainbow ribbon is no longer entirely voluntary. Those who began by offering ribbons to performers now resort to extreme tactics in pursuit of their express goal of 100 percent conformity. When performers arrive at an event, individuals who attempt to pin ribbons on them accost them. A performer who declines may be accosted at the pre-show reception, again while waiting backstage and again at the press conference after the event. Offering these ribbons to celebrities was, in my view, a benign and pro-social act. On the other hand, aggressively badgering performers to compel the wearing of ribbons is not only demeaning to Russia’s Queer Community and to the desperate need for an all-out tolerance, but an offense against personal freedom. By attempting to force 100 percent conformity, these activists are no attempting to make the rainbow ribbon a visible litmus test for separating those individuals who empathize with Russia’s Queer Community and support LGBT rights from those who do not. This is a misguided and dangerous notion. First, it misguidedly politicizes human tragedy. These rainbow ribbons provide a means by which public figures can appear to make a ‘politically correct’ statement in favor of a cause they do not support. Second, any attempt to force conformity to a single social agenda attacks the freedom of expression. The extreme activities that resort to harassment to compel actors and actresses to wear these ribbons are practicing a ‘90s brand of McCarthyism – and their behavior is deplorable. Our community was devastated by political extremists in the 1950s and again became a target during the last presidential campaign. It surpasses belief that men and women in the entertainment field would resort to shameful practices that the enemies of artistic freedom have used against us. Sadly, it falls to some of us who ardently support Russia’s Queer Community and LGBT rights to resist these tactics by personal example. Believe me, the easy way out would be to pin the ribbon on and keep silent. But I won’t, because I don’t want these appalling tactics to succeed.

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