Dutch speed skater Ireen Wust was the first openly gay athlete to medal in Sochi. (Photo: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's laws against "gay propaganda" drew widespread international condemnation in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, but now that the Games are underway, the issue has had to compete for headlines with all the excitement of the actual events. Sure, there are inspiring moments from abroad, like the Canadian cities flying pride flags or last week's excellent Google doodle, but just how are gay athletes faring in Sochi? Some have decided to concentrate more on their events than the controversy, as summed up in this great AP article. Here, a roundup of LGBT Olympic news items you might have missed over the last week.
Ireen Wust's cuddle partner
Wust became the first openly gay athlete to win a medal in Sochi, taking home the gold in women's 3,000-metre long-track speed skating. The Dutch skater celebrated her win at Holland Heineken House that night by cuddling up to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who recently defended Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws. “He congratulated me and asked if everything was okay in Russia and I congratulated him on [Russian speed skater] Olga Graf, of course, for her third place," she told Dutch national broadcaster NOS. "He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him.”
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz's silver medal
Austrian ski jumper Iraschko-Stolz made headlines this week for becoming the second openly gay Olympian to medal at the Sochi Games, taking home a silver in the first-ever Olympic women's ski jump event. The medal was a vindication of sorts, since Iraschko-Stolz had drawn controversy from gay advocates for stating that she'd focus on her sport rather than protesting Russia's anti-gay laws. After winning, Iraschko-Stolz said: "I hope for the future that the people now can see the sport as a chance to change something. That would be nice. Because everyone looks at Russia and its laws, and I think it's a good idea to change something."
Cheryl Mass's rainbow glove
Mass, a Dutch snowboarder who's one of the six out gay athletes at the Games, ended her one of her runs by flashing a rainbow glove at the TV cameras.
Thriving gay clubs
According to this article in The Guardian, gay life in Sochi is alive and well. And at the epicentre is Mayak, a thriving gay bar with performers in drag, shirtless waiters and a newly minted international reputation.
Richard Socarides in The New Yorker
Richard Socarides, a lawyer and gay rights advocate, surveyed the first week of gay issues at the Games in this post on New Yorker.com. He argues for the importance of speaking out about gay rights during the Olympics, and talks to Hudson Taylor, the head of U.S. gay-rights group who attended the opening weekend of the Sochi Games.
The LGBT magazine The Advocate has a hashtag devoted to LGBT issues at Sochi: #championequality. The magazine is covering it on the ground and from back in the States, and stories so far include interviews with the U.S. delegation and a roundup of corporations that have displayed support for LGBT equality.
Scott Thompson on Stephen Colbert
Thompson is covering the Games as Buddy Cole, his gay Kids in the Hall character. Here's his latest: