Sending pride to Sochi

The Glow Centre for Sexual & Gender Diversity hosted Waterloo’s own Pride House event Feb. 6-7 in the SLC Great Hall. The event lasted 24 hours, with students camping out in the Pride House over Thursday night.

&ldquo;We&rsquo;re holding this event because there is no Pride House in Russia because of the situation with the anti-propaganda laws,&rdquo; Emily Saurette, Glow&rsquo;s social <sub>director</sub>, explained. Russia passed a law in June 2013 that promises to penalize &ldquo;homosexual propaganda.&rdquo;

As a country, Russia already has a strong anti-gay stance, and several stories have surfaced of members of the LGBTQ community being violently beaten or killed with little or no justice from the government.

Responses to the state of human rights in Russia have varied worldwide, with some people choosing to take a personal ban against watching the Olympics this year. Saurette defended Glow&rsquo;s choice to promote the Sochi Winter Olympics with their Pride House event, stating that Glow&rsquo;s goal is &ldquo;to be in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and provide a safe space for people to come and watch the Olympics.&rdquo;

Glow is not the only organization to take this stance; they are listed with almost 40 other organizations on the Pride House International website, which encourages organizations to host remote Pride Houses all over the world.

Glow facilitated several activities over the course of their event last week, including film viewings, crafting, yoga, dancing with the Dance Dance Revolution and salsa clubs on campus, and a free pancake breakfast.

The main event of the day though, was the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Glow was the only organization officially streaming the event on campus, and people passing through the SLC were drawn in by the spectacle.

Saurette was happy to establish Glow&rsquo;s presence, fly the rainbow flag, and visibly take up space on campus for the day.

&ldquo;We&rsquo;re saying &lsquo;we&rsquo;re here&rsquo;,&rdquo; said Saurette, expressing gratitude for a right she knows those in Russia will continue to be refused after the games wrap up.