By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com January 18 2014 12:46 PM ET
In her NBC reports about how great it is to live in Sochi, don't ask Maria Sharapova to mention what it's like for LGBT people there.
"I have discussed the issue a couple of times," she says, according to NDTV Sports, adding she's "said everything I wanted to say." The four-time tennis Grand Slam champion grew up in Sochi and was the flag bearer for Russia in the last summer Olympic Games in London. "I'm going to be showcasing the city of Sochi to a worldwide audience, and we will be doing a few segments."
This is exactly the problem LGBT activists have with the Olympics being held in Sochi while Russia enforces a new "gay propaganda" law, and while a proposed law is on deck that would remove children from their homes if parents are LGBT. The Olympics become an opportunity for Russia to conduct a glowing PR refurbish, they say.
For the record, Sharapova hasn't actually said much of anything about Russia's antigay laws. She refers people to a New York Times profile in December that included these three paragraphs:
Deeply attached to her parents and her heritage, Sharapova said she had never questioned her decision to represent Russia despite her American accent and addresses. She said she was not interested in politics, but she did discuss the controversy generated by a Russian law that went into effect in June. The law, viewed as antigay, bans “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” with the aim of protecting young people.
Sharapova said she had gay and lesbian friends and believed individuals should have the opportunity to share their lives with whom they see fit.
“I think what needs to be addressed will ultimately be addressed,” she said of the law. “I think time will address this issue. It will. I’m proud of being Russian, because I believe in the true core of its history and the culture, and that’s where I grew up, and I feel very proud to be from there. But never have I said that every individual there is perfect or every law is right.”
NBC has repeatedly assured viewers that it will cover the state of life in Russia for LGBT people in other parts of its broadcast. But it hasn't mentioned Sharapova's reports specifically.