An Open Letter to George Takei

Dear Mr. Takei,

I have recently read your article expressing your thoughts about moving the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi to another host city.  Although I understand and respect your opinion, I have to disagree with you.

I am not a huge sports fan.  My husband and life partner tries with all his might to get me to watch and love sports but I just can’t get into them.  Then every two years something magical happens: the Olympics.  I love the Olympics.  When I say I love them, you must understand that for two weeks they totally consume me.  During the 2012 Olympics, I averaged 3-5 hours of sleep per night and I ate irregularly.  I didn’t answer the phone, respond to personal emails or answer text messages, but I did check the Olympic updates sent regularly to my phone.  I ignored my friends, family and the rest of the world while I watched 2-3 events on the Internet and I switched between 3 different channels on TV, all at the same time.  For me, when the Olympics are on, the rest of the world stops.

I have too been watching the news in regards to the LGBT protests in Russia.  I feel for this group of individuals and can understand your need to do try and do something about it.  But I want to remind you of your own path in “coming out” and how the LGBT movement has grown here in the United States in the last several decades.  It has been a bumpy road.  Unfortunately, Russia has to have their own growing pains with this group of people as well.  It doesn’t matter where you live, public opinion changes slowly and only through education.

Moving the 2014 Winter Olympics back to Vancouver is not the answer.  I believe you must fight fire with fire.  I did not believe having the Olympics in a communist country was a good idea.  We know that people that live under communist rule are not treated well and definitely are not allowed to live under ideals that the Olympics stand for.  Yet, we had the Olympics in China, and this gave some Chinese an opportunity to see what freedom could be.  It gave them opportunities they didn’t have before.  We can do the same thing in Sochi and this repressive former communistic country.

What would happen if thousands of Olympic athletes and fans came to Sochi in Rainbow Brite t-shirts?  Not a rainbow flag, yet rainbows everywhere.  Even if thousands wore buttons and t-shirts supporting the GLBT movement, do you really think the Russian government would be able to arrest all of them?  Are they going to be able to track down where every rainbow button left in the bathroom came from?  Will they know where every brochure about LGBT rights that was left on the park bench came from?  Will they know if those two girls are holding hands because they are happy and bonded over their Olympic experience or because they are a couple?  Arresting all these people would completely saturate the jail system, and I believe the jail system would break down.  There would be too many people for the police and government to arrest, far too many to deport successfuly.  After so many Olympic athletes were arrested, the IOC would step in and Russia would look foolish to the rest of the world.

Mr. Takei, I applaud you for your stand on this.  I respect that you are trying to change things that are evil.  I support you for wanting to make the world a better place.  I am so glad you are opening people’s eyes to what is happening half way around the world.  I just think you are going about it the wrong way.

Respectfully yours,

Sandra Pospisil-Hedman