Russian Athletes Deny Kiss Was Protest of Antigay Laws

By Jase Peeples

Originally published on Advocate.com August 20 2013 1:46 PM ET

When two Russian athletes were photographed kissing after winning gold in the women’s 4x400-meter relay race at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, the press immediately began to speculate that the lip lock was in protest of the country’s antigay laws. But the teammates who shared a same-sex smooch are denying it had anything to do with LGBT people and are “insulted” that anyone could think the display was “gay propaganda,” reports RT.com.

According to Yulia Gushchina and Ksenia Ryzhova, the lip lock they shared was nothing more than “happiness for our team.”

“It was a storm of emotions [after winning]. And if at that moment we touched lips ... I don’t know in whose fantasy this all gets thought up,” Ryzhova said at an ItarTass news conference, adding, “Myself and Yulia are both married, and we are not having any kind of relationship.”

Her teammate echoed Ryzhova’s comments, saying the assumptions the press made about their kiss were “sick fantasies.”  

“Yesterday, I was telephoned 20 times by various publications and instead of congratulating me they decided to insult me with these questions,” Gushchina said at the same news conference, noting she thought the speculation was “insulting” to not only her and her teammate, but their coaches as well.

The reaction to the kiss by both the press and the athletes highlights the growing tension over Russia’s recently passed antigay law and the effect it may have on the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi.