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Olympic Pride House: Russia 2014?

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It’s getting hard to find time to sleep here in Vancouver these days with all the Pride House activities going on.  Tonight’s main event was a debut screening of Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride, which, as it happens, stars Whistler Pride House coordinator Ken Coolen.  When not Pride Housing, Coolen is the parade director for Vancouver’s Pride Parade, and the film follows him as he visits Pride events around the world–from the mammoth, societally-sanctioned celebrations of Toronto and São Paolo to the violent confrontations of Poland and Russia. (Click here to see the trailer)

The panelists l-r: former Olympic volleyball coach Betty Baxter, Pride House's Ken Coolen and Beyond Gay director Bob Christie

The footage from Russia–which shows an organizer being beaten by an angry mob–was a sobering wake-up call to those who have been challenging Russia to host a Pride House at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Panelists who discussed the topic after the film shared the following thoughts:

A little comment about Russia:  In 2007, a whole bunch of international people went to Pride to try and have a Pride there, and it got lots of press and lots of people showed up, and it became very violent, and many people got arrested and punched in the face, and a lot of the Moscow queer community were really angry.  Nikolai (Moscow Pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev)  isn’t actually the most loved person in Moscow because he’s a shit disturber, and people just want to live their quiet gay lives and not have to be put on the line. They feel that he draws attention to them in a way they don’t want.

So when we think about 2014 in Sochi, I like Ken’s idea of having it within Canada House, because I don’t think there’s a community there that’s ready for a Pride House as we know it, and I think it would be unfair to expect Russian people to put themselves in that position at this time. Nikolai’s unwavering and determined, so things will happen for sure, but we have to be careful with our own ideas about how things should be and not try to put them somewhere else where they don’t necessarily belong.

–Bob Christie, director of Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride

Click the link below to read the rest of this entry and to read more about Pride House’s gay nude hockey sculpture Slapshotolus.

The question is, how do we support the athletes?  And it might be a big celebratory Pride House in London.  It might be an entirely different way in Russia.

–Betty Baxter, former Olympic volleyball player who was fired as coach of the Canadian Olympic team in 1982 because of rumors she was a lesbian

We celebrate so many parts of Canadian culture when we have Canada House. So when we go to Sochi and we have a Canada house, should we not celebrate the part of Canadian culture which is the LGBT community within that Canada house, and make sure the world knows that Canada celebrates it’s LGBT community?  I think Canada has a need to stand up and say this is who we are and get over it.   As far as Dean and I are concerned, 2014 Sochi, here we come.

–Ken Coolen, Whistler Pride House coordinator

Slapshotolus is for sale

Creator, artist Edmund Haakonson, visits Pride House

Alberta artist Edmund Haakonson, the creator of Pride House’s much-talked-about nude bronze sculpture, Slapshotolus was in Whistler Wednesday to answer questions about his creation.

Asked to explain the inspiration behind Slapshotolus, the winner of the Silver Alberta Centennial Medal said it’s “kind of a double thing.”

I have a longstanding thread through my work of taking ancient images and giving them a modern face. The most direct equation for this in the ancient world would be the sculpture of the discus thrower-and crashing that headlong into the modern Canadian sport of hockey. So that’s the visual image. The philosophical inspiration behind it is having a very strong belief that there’s wisdom in our ancestors.

The image itself represents a means of stripping away the façades and the masks and the armor that we all utilize–straight, gay, doesn’t matter who you are-but stripping away that covering part of ourselves that we use as survival mechanisms and just being true to yourself and taking away the need to present a face that isn’t entirely true.

For those who would like to own a piece of gay Olympic history, Slapshotolus is for sale for a cool $85,000 Canadian. 25% of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Pride House.

Another Gay Athlete is Golden

Considering that the Queer Nation has only five Olympians on its ‘team’–at least, that’s all and could identify–we’re doing surprisingly well in the medal count.

The Canadian Women’s hockey team, which includes out lesbian Sarah Vaillancourt, took home the gold medal Thursday in a final match against Team U.S.A., bringing the LGBT medal tally to … TWO! The first medal came from Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, who won gold in the women’s 1500 meter race last weekend.

So gay fans of Team U.S.A., don’t despair. Your team may not have won gold, but your ‘team’ did win gold.


Written by heatherkitching

February 26, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Posted in Sports

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. I encourage everyone to drop by the Whistler Olympic Pride house. I just interviewed Dean Nelson, the executive director of Pride House the other day. See it here and then take a virtual walk around pride house and Whister at


    February 26, 2010 at 4:16 PM

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