This month the Olympic games come to Sochi. Russia is certainly not the first country with a questionable human rights history to be hosting the Olympic games. However, as a Russian, I am very happy to know that the games are being hosted in Sochi. The entire country is rooting and supportive of these amazing people and to us Russians, it has always been a big deal to represent our country in the games.
I would like to believe that all Russians are proud of their athletes no matter what their sexual orientation is, and that the pride of earning medal for their country outweighs the shame of being gay. I won't get into why Russia is the way it is, its a complex answer and one I am not equipped to answer just yet, but it makes me sad to the bottom of my soul to see Russians mistreat their own citizens. This is why it gave me great hope to see a beautiful and quiet statement of love right in the heart of Moscow this past summer.
There is a place in Moscow called "Lover's Bridge" where couples write their names on various locks and hang them on special metal trees designed to hold these locks. Once these trees are full, they are moved along the banks of the river with locks in tow, and empty new trees are put on the bridge to be filled with locks again.
I walked back and forth along the bridge taking photos and reading off all the names. The locks were gorgeous and unique, some hand painted, of various sizes and designs. But all the names were man and woman, man and woman, man and woman, all beautiful acts of love but not the way all humans are genetically wired to love. Then on one tree, between the many locks, I spotted a lone lock hand-painted in the colors of the rainbow.
It was a beautiful and quiet moment of defiance. There it was, among all the other locks, small but bright, and it was unharmed, untouched and whole. When I got home to see the photos I took of the locks, I spotted another small lock with a hand-painted heart and two male names. It seems that the two locks representing "untraditional" love were somehow huddled together among the masses. Together perhaps for comfort, protection and understanding. Maybe it happened accidentally, maybe it was on purpose, but it happened and it was beautiful.
Seeing these locks together, unharmed, made me feel hope. Hope that this vast and beautiful country that gave me life will one day learn to love ALL their children more than it hates those who are different. I saw it with my own eyes, I saw that it is possible. These two small locks among all the others gave me real hope.
My Russian brothers and sisters, I am still rooting for you. I am rooting for ALL of you, in more ways than one…
Week 4 of 52 - Story a Week in 2014