As the Sochi Olympics kick off, Russia’s anti-gay legislation has drawn high-profile protests from athletes, heads of state and the court of public opinion, but perhaps none is as imaginative as "Luge," by the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion.
The video, above, was created to send "a really strong message about the need for equality and the treatment of LGBT people and their allies, particularly at the Olympics,” institute founder Michael Bach said in an interview Thursday with the Los Angeles Times.
The video’s YouTube description simply reads, “The two-man luge, in all its glory.” The video shows the athletes kicking off from the luge starting block and ends with this text: “The Games have always been a little gay. Let’s fight to keep them that way.”
Bach said the institute, whose focus is diversity and inclusion in the workplace, isn't "your traditional human-rights advocacy group." But they view the Olympics as a workplace for athletes and their support staff.
The concept for the video, he said, is tongue-in-cheek but gets across a strong message about equality for gay people. And that message is deeply personal for Bach.
Bach, who is openly gay, told The Times he traveled to the Paralympics every two years but was skipping this year’s Games in Sochi out of fear for his own safety.
He said he was unhappy about not being in Sochi but didn't want to put put himself in the way of "discrimination or physical abuse, financial penalty, deportation from Russia; these are not things that I will willingly walk into, and so yes there is a personal connection here for me."
Bach added that he was pleased with the outpouring of support for his organization’s Olympic video and hoped it would inspire people with its message, including the International Olympic Committee.
“My real desire is that we have continued dialogue about the need for the equal treatment of LGBT people, not just in Russia but in other countries" where homosexuality is still illegal.
“I would like," he added, "the IOC to institute policies that also take into consideration the human-rights violations in a country when it comes to awarding the Games."