"The 21st Century Protest in Russia"
American track athletes and Olympian medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos won first and third place medals respectively on October 16, 1968 at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. In an act of protest, each raised a black fist as their salute during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
The arena crowd booed. Smith later commented on the salute, “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.”
Forty-six years later, LGBT Olympian athletes will compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia where lawmakers vow to persecute any LGBT Russian citizen or visiting foreigner under Russia’s new draconian laws which bans “gay propaganda”. This includes the competing Olympic athletes. Will history repeat itself with a brave LGBT victor, with all the world’s eyes watching, proudly raise a pride flag?
Will the crowd cheer?
With this design, I’ve taken the original 1968 image and removed the athletes’ faces and numbers from their uniforms and anything that would tie them to specific people. This allows their figures to stand for anyone, like the future medal winners in the 2014 Winter Games.
I sincerely hope that the world will see a brave American raise such a flag during their moment in the spotlight, whether their are LGBT or a straight ally. Russia’s backwards slide on LGBT civil rights effects everyone. Our struggle is your struggle. Your struggle is my struggle.