Russian Olympic Village “mayor”: Gay Olympians not “normal” (video)

It’s their life, it’s their choice, but it’s not normal, says Russian pole vault champion and Olympic Village mayor Yelena Isinbayeva about fellow gay Olympians.


Isinbayeva also referred to gay and trans people as a “problem” (see video below):

“If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people… We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys…. Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don’t want to have any in the future.”

You never had these problems in Russia.  Yeah, because you used to just throw everyone you didn’t like in a gulag.

Oh, and Isinbayeva also added that it’s “disrespectful” of Russia for gay athletes to object to being thrown in prison.  Yeah.  Gays are funny that way.

The International Olympic Committee declined to comment on the fact that Russia’s mayor for the Olympic Village thinks gay Olympic athletes aren’t “normal.”  Then again, remember, these are the folks who defended Hitler’s Olympics, and accused Americans who were pushing a boycott of the Nazi Olympics in 1936 of being “liars.”  It takes a lot to cross the line, if there is even a line, for these people.

Isinbayeva was upset that Swedes, and other athletes, at a recent competition in Moscow took a stand against rampant Russian homophobia, including a new law that may land gay Olympic athletes in jail.  The Swedes painted their nails rainbow colors.

One of those athletes who took a stand is American runner Nick Symmonds (who dedicated his medal just won in Moscow to the LGBT community). Symmonds was none too pleased to hear about Isinbayeva tirade, and good for him:

“Oh, my god. I can’t believe she said that. It’s bad,” Symmonds told the AP. “For Yelena to come out and say we are normal, standard Russian citizens — I’m paraphrasing here — and we don’t stand for that.

“I want to say to Yelena, ‘You understand a very large portion of your citizens here are gay and lesbian people. They are standard people, too. They were created this way. For you to tell them that they’re not normal and standard, that’s what we’re taking an issue with.’ That’s why we have to continue to demonstrate and to speak out against the ignorance that she’s showing.”

And there’s now video.

By the way, I wonder how all those companies whose brands are proudly displayed behind Miss Normal feel about their good name being used to endorse this kind of bigotry and intolerance.  Companies like Toyota, Canon, TDK, TBS, Adidas, Seiko.

Perhaps someone should ask them.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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78 Responses to “Russian Olympic Village “mayor”: Gay Olympians not “normal” (video)”

  1. NiteSatyr says:

    It’s amazing! Homophobia and stupidity sound the same with a Russian accent. She really needs to be educated. What twit put her in front of the camera? All she said was the same thing over and over again. Well I hope this bigot enjoys her 15 minutes of fame. Hope she likes the picture she painted of herself, this woman makes some of the bigots in the U.S. look intelligent…and that’s really hard to do. Shame on her.

  2. Russian Girl says:

    this problem it would be very nice to avoid sweeping generalizations. It’s such
    a pain to hear “Russians this” and “Russians that”. It’s like “Germans are bad,
    because they let nazism happen”. “Elena is an athlete and she thinks with her
    muscles, not her brain, like all of them do”. And in some big tolerant continent
    there are still people alive who half a century ago wrote “White people only”
    signs. Like some intelligent person admitted here in the comments that would be
    fighting ignorance with ignorance. Not all Russians are ignorant ant
    intolerant. I don’t even like calling gay friendliness “tolerance” because as for me, there’s
    nothing to “tolerate”. It’s just managing diversity. However, I support the
    idea of Russian Olympics ban and other demonstrations of that kind. Our
    government should understand that being tolerant and correct is politically
    beneficial. And behave so even if they don’t feel like it because they are evil
    and ignorant. To become a general tendency tolerance should be grafted, it
    should come as a state policy. Because unfortunately in each and every country
    there is a “gray mass” of puppets whose opinion may be influenced and change at
    any time.

  3. Ninong says:

    She was trained from the age of 5 to be a gymnast but by the time she was 15 she was too tall to be a top gymnast, so they switched her to pole vaulting. She’s also a captain in the Russian Army, so some things never change.

  4. Ninong says:

    Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro, who painted her nails in the colors of the rainbow to show support for gay rights in Russia, repainted them red today after she was warned that she might be in “violation of the rules.” Miss Russian standard pole vaulter complained that the Swede was showing disrespect for Russia.

    In other news, two Russian lesbian medal winners kissed each other on the podium today! For real. I didn’t make that up. I can’t wait for the Summer Olympics to see if the Russian men’s gymnastics coaches still kiss all their cute little boy gymnasts full on the lips like they usually do.

  5. Phillip Födermayr says:

    I don’t get it.
    She is a woman that jumps over a pole with a pole. That is all she does. Jumping with a pole over another pole is that womans life and for some reason her opinion is treated like that of a nobel-prize winner. For some reason people think what this woman has to say is actually important. Shes just another uneducated russian peasant who probably got her mind filled with ignorance and false knowlenge since childhood.

  6. Naja pallida says:

    Ignorance and bigotry sure has a lot of sponsors these days.

  7. Naja pallida says:

    It’s the exact same argument that many of the defenders have come to this site with, which leads me to believe you are correct. There are people who simply don’t want to see what is really happening right before their eyes. Just another parallel to history.

  8. The_Fixer says:

    Strepsi, you may well be right as far as the proportion of Russians who might be supportive or indifferent to LGBT people. I know the polls say 80% of Russians are anti-equality for gay people. But a lot of Russians say one thing publicly and another privately. No one can say for sure, but I am willing to admit that I’m being generous in my assessment.

    Russian Orthodox Church priests leading the violent mobs doesn’t sound all that much different than the attitudes of some church leaders in this country and others – if they could get away with doing that, they would do it, too. The difference is that we created a social climate that say such behavior is unacceptable. The same needs to be done in Russia, and excluding them from polite company, socially and commercially, is the way to do it. As you say, they want to be considered part of the first-world. Make them act like part of it.

  9. goulo says:

    There’s a constructive difference between expressing anger and outrage at their gay-bashing, and saying “I wish you die”.

  10. HolyMoly says:

    How could they be so stupid? They’re not the only ones, either. American homophobes believe the whole underpopulation thing as well.

    If we woke up one morning and the world was 100% gay, we would still procreate. Artificial insemination, anyone?

  11. Stev84 says:

    She really shouldn’t be talking about what’s “normal” looking like this:

    Completely doped up on steroids in the best tradition of eastern European and Soviet athletes.

  12. Anonymous says:

    By the way, the TBS here is the Japanese network, Tokyo Broadcasting System:

  13. Strepsi says:

    @ FLL, you are not kidding — Russia NEEDS out gay people: its eyebrow situation is dire, especially for the men.

  14. Strepsi says:

    Unfortunately your idea that “another smaller portion of the population …is really actively anti-gay” is untrue. Russians are somewhere around 80% against any equality for gay people.

    You have to put this in the context not only of Russia’s bizarre nationalism and scapegoating, but also include the Orthodox Church. Priests actually LED violent mobs against gay people:

    Also you have to look at the weird, HYPER-masculine homophobic culture of all Eastern Europe, with its bodybuilding and paramilitary fetishes that promote violent homophobia (while engaging in some of the gayest looking events, i.e. Russian paratrooper uniforms or Turkish oil wrestling or ROmanian bodybuilders)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yelena Isinbayeva’s role as a Youth Olympics ambassador should be reviewed, says British heptathlete Louise Hazel

    “We have a true champion in Yelena, a true role model for young people,” said Jacques Rogge in 2010.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Btw, they can’t benefit from their resources because their leaders steal gov’t money.

  17. The_Fixer says:

    Yes, odd how that works, isn’t it?

  18. Anonymous says:

    One Neo-Nazi forced a kid to give him a BJ under duress. Nothing proves how straight you are and how disgusting gay sex is than getting a BJ from a guy.

  19. The_Fixer says:

    Russia is a strange land. The people have a strong nationalistic spirit, the country has been run and ruined by a series of dictators that a willing populace seems to embrace, and in spite of its wealth of resources, it never seems to be able to capitalize on them and join the modern world.

    I suspect that some portion of the population does not actually believe any of this anti-gay dreck, and parrots the party line just to avoid persecution. Another smaller portion of the population does believe it, and is really actively anti-gay. There are likely an even smaller number of people who just don’t know, and are undecided.

    I have no idea what is in Yelena Isinbayeva’s heart. She may be parroting the party line in order to just get along. She certainly chose the wrong path, a more neutral statement like “The Olympics is supposed to be about sport, not politics so I won’t comment on that” would have been more appropriate if she is a secretive ally. But she blew it. Whether she is a bigot or not, she comes off like one. I suspect that she is, based on her words.

    Regardless of that, we need to continue the public pressure on all fronts. I saw a clip of Harvey Fierstein on “Up with Chris Hayes” from Wednesday night. What he said was and is true – gay people have had enough of being falsely accused and being victims. He places as much importance on this struggle as he does on Stonewall. I think he’s probably right (history will prove it one way or the other), it’s a pivotal moment.

    We’re in a largely gay-supportive atmosphere at the moment (at least as far as the majority of Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Oceanans are concerned). This is the time to make a stink and be productive. Use this to our advantage, and to shame the Russian government into ceasing their pogrom against our brothers and sisters in Russia.

    On a slightly different note, did anyone see the quote from Maksim “the Hatchet” Martsinkevich in the article about Russian gays in the New Republic? In case you didn’t:

    “As usual, I am without a shirt. Why? Because I am very poor. All my money goes to growth hormones, to anabolics … to look good.”

    That sounds suspiciously like a self-loathing closet case, and his part in this sounds like the actions of one.

  20. Anonymous says:

    She wants those endor$ement deals…

  21. Jasper Taylor says:

    “boys with woman, woman with boys”

    so she advocates for polyamatory milf relationships?

  22. pliny says:

    If history is any guide, the IOC doesn’t plan to speak up at all. There’s no excuse to mollycoddle them or treat them as anything other than enemies of decency.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Coerced? No, I think she is really that ignorant. They argue “the law only prohibits propaganda, you can be gay in your home.” It seems the ignorant majority really believe it’s an innocent law. Most people there don’t actually see gov’t atrocities, because the people who speak out are silenced. Or they reason “there are hate crimes/police brutality/etc. in America too.”

    It’s not the violent minority that’s the whole problem, it’s the ignorant majority. All we can do is find the people who are against the laws already, and give them a voice. Put pressure on their oppressive leaders. Stop letting people there believe “everything is fine.” We have freedom here, we must use it to help them.

  24. emjayay says:

    Yes it’s early days at this point. Good thing we have people like Isinbayeva to stoke the flames at evey turn. All these parties have highly paid PR people who have been meeting exhaustively on this and crafting their statements already, and making tentative plans for which way to go next.

  25. emjayay says:

    Yeah, convenient I’m sure, but I’m pretty sure she meant every word.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I agree.

  27. Houndentenor says:

    Russia has been one big problem since…before there are historical records. No gays? Except for Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Gogol, Eisenstein, Diaghilev, Nijinsky….

  28. karmanot says:

    Emotion and passion are the blood life of dedication to justice and human rights.

  29. Justin D Thompson says:

    What’s with the small laughs and seemingly uncomfortable sentence structure she creates. Do you feel this is coursed?

  30. noel connaughton says:

    typical Russian who has been brain washed and afraid to come out and say its ok to be Gay/Lesbian incase she is jailed surely she can’t be that Ignorant about the LGBT community ,,, but we need to Accept the lovely members of the LGBT community in our own countries first before we give out

  31. Larry says:

    Whst a bitch

  32. usagi says:

    Fat chance. If they really are thinking that, they’re getting extraordinarily bad PR advice.

  33. Ninong says:

    She adopted the Cher look and she apparently likes boys, too.

  34. Ninong says:

    Make that Captain Yelena Isinbayeva. She’s a captain in the Russian Army.

  35. Ninong says:

    She’s a captain in the Russian Army. She’ll probably get a medal.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I DO feel outraged everytime I see their hate. Whether it’s comments like this or the Nazi thuggery. But I am afraid if we’re too emotional, they will win, and we won’t DO enough.

  37. Sullivan says:

    Shows the huge chasm between education and training.

  38. Monoceros Forth says:

    Indeed. There’s this bizarre undercurrent of fear among many homophobes that same-sex attraction is so powerful and intoxicating that, unless it’s ruthlessly punished and suppressed, it’ll tempt men and women to abandon their procreative duties en masse and wallow in sensual pleasure instead of doing God’s work of marrying and popping out kids. We’ve got Russian officials seriously claiming that they’re protecting their country from underpopulation! Straight marriage must really suck if it needs that kind of help.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Lol, anyone with money in Russia can be a “captain,” “mayor,” and “spokesperson” I guess.

  40. Jim Olson says:

    The time is long past for civility. Young LGBT people are in danger. The Olympics, which really are supposed to just be about the athletics, has, despite the IOC’s assertions to the contrary, a massively political event. These people need to be shouted down. These people need to know the same fear and trepidation every time they step outside of their door that we feel every day. They need to hear anger and hatred and nastiness every single day.

  41. Ninong says:

    She has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree after graduating from the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture and she’s a captain in the Russian Army. You might say she’s a typical product of the Russian educational system. Poor woman.

  42. Sullivan says:

    Their history has already targeted Jews, the Roma, East Europeans, Chechens, etc. take your pic.

  43. Sullivan says:

    Women with boys? So I guess hetero pedophilia is better than consenting gay adults. And how far removed is a pole vaulter from a pole dancer?

  44. BeccaM says:

    That’s the beauty of the fascist tactic of scapegoating: You never truly run out of your targets.

    As the numbers of obvious ones begin to dwindle, the definition is expanded to include as many others as necessary to keep it going. In Germany, eventually merely being accused of having Jewish ancestors was enough to suffer consequences.

    Russia’s angle is to start with a wide net right at the beginning, so that even a straight person who says it’s not wrong to be gay can be prosecuted.

  45. Michael David Barber Moghul says:

    The US should completely shun Russia. Diplomatically, economically, socially, and in every other way.

  46. FLL says:

    If you start off like Leonid Brezhnev (top), Yelena’s eyebrows might be an improvement. If Yelena really wants to go for the 1930s starlet “look of surprise” (center), she might want to imitate the master of plucked eyebrows, Russia’s World Cup chief, Alexey Sorokin (bottom).

  47. JayRandal says:

    After homophobic Russians have eliminated homosexuals then who will they scapegoat next? Fat ugly persons? Short people? Elderly? This is what happens when hoodlums take over a country. Russians
    have gone backwards in time. Far-right homophobic bigots in US are backward too.

  48. BeccaM says:

    Hmm… something about that first sentence begs for an edit.

    “It’s their life, but it’s their our choice how they must live, but because it’s not normal and shouldn’t be allowed or tolerated,” Russian pole vault champion compliant homophobic stooge and Olympic Village mayor Idiot, Yelena Isinbayeva says about fellow gay Olympians.

    There, much better. And more accurate.

  49. bkmn says:

    Whoever waxes her unibrow and 5 o’clock shadow had better watch themselves.

  50. StraightGrandmother says:

    They can get on tv and criticize sexual minorities, but sexual minorities have to keep their mouths shut and not speak up. Well all I can say is that will create anger & frustration in the persecuted. Oppressed people do fight back. They may do so in the cover of darkness but people who are oppressed will fight back. I know if I was gay and lived there I would.

  51. mike31c says:

    Go back under your rock anonymous. You are part of the problem.

  52. BeccaM says:

    True, she has to say this, but there’s every chance she’s also among the 83% of Russians who think being LGBT is wrong and abnormal.

    Y’know though, whenever I hear remarks like Isinbayeva’s — a tone and sentiment which is expressed by homophobic bigots worldwide — I always find myself want to ask them, “How is it your culture is so fragile, so delicate, that the mere acknowledgment of the existence of people who do not conform absolutely to your enforced norms threatens to destroy it completely?”

  53. BeccaM says:

    My understanding is the IOC will speak up when they decide it’s necessary to make examples out of anybody who dares to complain by disqualifying them from competing or stripping the winning athletes of their medals.

    As Stephen Colbert said last night, the official IOC response is, “Whatever you want Vlad!”

  54. BeccaM says:

    I suspect they’re hoping this all blows over in a few weeks, so the happy little sheeple consumers forget this was ever in the news.

  55. nicho says:

    Don’t blame her. She has to say this. Just like Bradley Manning had to apologize to the kangaroo court in the US. Had she not parroted the party line, she would have lost everything. And, she could have been arrested for “gay propaganda.”

  56. Anonymous says:

    People on “our” side shouldn’t give them ammo. Calling them bigots and idiots is ok, but not mindless stupidity.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Fighting ignorance with ignorance…in all your comments.

  58. StraightGrandmother says:

    Well excuse me! At what stage does the OIC speak up? After the arrests?

  59. marcpaige says:

    The Sochi Olympics get more sinister by the day, and the videos coming out of Russia of gays being beaten and humiliated look ominously familiar – THEY LOOK EXACTLY LIKE JEWS BEING HUMILIATED AND BEATEN ON THE STREETS OF BERLIN IN 1934.

  60. lynchie says:

    Have you not been following the beatings, jailings and the like in Russia. Well past time to keep it civil and how do you educate this kind of stupidity/

  61. lynchie says:

    Not a word from the sneaker companies. silence from governments. nothing from anyone with any clout. Not surprising. the 1% love the Olympics they get the best seats, right off the cost of attending on their taxes. Watch the athletes like in ancient rome with the gladiators and as an added bonus in Russia they get to watch the storm troopers kick the shit out of the fags plus get to the trendiest parties where they can rub shoulders with more of “their” kind. Kind of a trifecta as it were. God life is good. Then private jet back home to screw the poor and elderly and make them pay for the luxury of wiping the dog shit off their boots.

  62. mike31c says:

    Honestly, little girl, go to the kitchen and STFU. Children should be seen and not heard from. Now make yourself useful and get us men some food.

    While you are at it, work on your Cher look. It’s not natural on you.

  63. nicho says:

    Whatever. Troll away.

  64. TonyT says:

    I gotta put Female – Russian – Pole Vaulter in the “Not Normal” category. Just saying.

  65. Monoceros Forth says:

    Damn, good thing Ms. Isinbayeva didn’t say anything that could be construed as “political”. She might have been in real trouble otherwise!

  66. grayzip says:

    I want to like this site more than I do because it’s gay-owned and its heart is in the right place but geez Louise does it love sensationalism at all cost.

    Today’s case in point:

    “Then again, remember, these are the folks who defended Hitler’s Olympics, and accused Americans who were pushing a boycott of the Nazi Olympics in 1936 of being “liars.”

    No, these are not those folks. Those folks were from another era and are almost certainly long dead.

    But anything to make anything about Nazis? Or, what the hell, when in Rome:

    England not supporting a Sochi boycott isn’t so surprising when you consider that these are the people who gave us the Crusades!

  67. gypsy78 says:

    I’m sure the folks at Nike wouldn’t be too happy to have their emblem on her chest either? Or do they endorse this sort of language?

  68. Anonymous says:

    I have to laugh at the “We never had any problems.”

  69. Thom Allen says:

    Don’t bitch at Yelena, you won’t get through to her. Instead, bitch to these people who might listen: Olympic sponsors, NBC, USOC and others:

  70. emjayay says:

    Gays aren’t normal and we only think heterosexuals are acceptable and we don’t need gay rights like every other country that thinks they are modern and everyone here of course can make any choice they want.
    Yeah, we’ve heard that before. Also, she is an idiot.
    These people just keep digging themselves deeper and deeper, don’t they?

  71. Anonymous says:

    It’s sad. But I have to note (without defending her) that people are inundating her page with hateful comments now. Some of them are saying “I wish you die.” It’s kind of surprising. Can’t we keep it civil and try to educate these people rather than becoming monsters ourselves?

  72. samizdat says:

    What a shockingly ignorant person.

  73. pliny says:

    More disturbing was the IOC’s refusal to comment:

    ‘ “You will understand that at this stage we cannot comment on reported
    opinions/comments,” IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.’

    This is an Olympic athlete involved in promoting the Sochi games. If they choose not to reject the remarks, then they can only be construed as agreeing with them.

  74. Thom Allen says:

    She sounds (literally and figuratively) like the Russian version of Sarah Palin. I’ll bet she can see Alaska from her porch.

    Translation of her speech, “We are just normal haters who want everyone
    to be just like us. If not, they will suffer the consequences because
    we know that they can make us gay. If you’re in our country, or outside of it, you
    should just shut up. We Russians deserve respect for our backward
    attitudes, even though we can disrespect whomever we want. If you come here and disagree with our nonsensical and vague law, we will just “disappear” you as we did to millions of others.”

  75. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Lots of nervous laughter. Huh huh…

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