Pride House was created as an LGBT space at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It was followed up by a similar Pride House in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, visited by at least one Olympian at those games, South African archer Karen Hultzer. Sadly, Russia has banned any Pride House at the Sochi Olympics this February.
That isn't stopping Pride House International. In addition to seeking help from National Olympic Committees to host Pride House events in their own houses in Sochi, they are creating virtual Pride Houses around the world for people to congregate during the Winter Olympics and show their support for LGBT athletes, Russians and other victims of homophobia in sports around the world.
Virtual Pride Houses are already in the works in Toronto, Washington DC, Los Angeles and the UK. If you want to host a Pride House in your city -- at a bar, at an office or in your home -- just get hold of Pride House International!
Here's their full press release:
Pride House International invites groups around the world to host Pride House events during 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games
Events in Manchester, Toronto, Glasgow, and Washington, DC already announced
Pride House International, a coalition of LGBT sport and human rights organizations, is coordinating actions carried out throughout the world during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to support equality and inclusion in sport and society, to condemn discriminatory laws and practices, and to promote the values of sport for all.
These actions, which can take a variety of forms, will be in conjunction with events at the hospitality houses of various National Olympic Committees, a project launched by Pride House International in November. PHI coordinator Lou Englefield provided a progress report: "We have received some positive feedback from a small number of NOCs, including a project for a high-level meeting with one NOC in Sochi. We hope to have more details soon. But from the outset, we knew that the world would have to show solidarity with athletes in Sochi and elsewhere in Russia with events outside the reach of the homophobic laws now in place within the Russian Federation."
Daniel Vaudrin of the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association noted that three "remote Pride Houses" were already in the works, in Toronto, organized by PrideHouseTO, the future host of the 2015 Pan Am Games Pride House, in Manchester, hosted by Pride Sports UK, the lead organization for the 2012 London Pride House, in Glasgow, hosted by LEAP Sports/Commonwealth Games Pride House, and in Washington, hosted by Team DC: "A Pride House event can take any number of forms. There can be a film screening, a panel discussion, a rally, an exhibition, a lecture, a sporting tournament or match, or simply a viewing party bringing together LGBT athletes, fans, and allies. We expect that a highlight of any event will be information about the Russian LGBT Sports Federation's Open Games to be held in Moscow between the Olympic and Paralympic Games."
Les Johnson of the Federation of Gay Games explained that PHI would be providing international visibility for all Pride House events organized: "We hope that such events will use our Pride House International logo in their communication to mark their support for the Pride House principles of ‘sport for all' and LGBT visibility in sport. At our PHI website [http://pridehousehinternational.org] we will be setting up a special calendar to allow visitors to find events near them. Among the actions we're particularly keen to see are social media exchanges that would include online chats, live video streams, photo uploads, etc. that will allow people within Russia to take part in and experience these remote Pride House events."
Sochi would not be the first implementation of such "remote Pride Houses". Armelle Mazé of the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation recalled that during the EGLSF Euro Pride House during the UEFA Football Championship in 2012, a physical Pride House was organized in Warsaw: "But in fellow host country Ukraine, such a venue was impossible to organize, given the homophobic violence there. So we provided materials for individuals to organize their own events in their homes or other venues, and created a Facebook page for people there to share how they were celebrating inclusion in sport during the Euro. For the coming Winter Olympics, we've already created such a page, called Sochi@Home."
For more information or to notify PHI of your event, just write firstname.lastname@example.org.