Update to original article: A day after the race, one of the Russians said the kiss had nothing to do with LGBT rights (see below).
Original article: The picture is all over the Internet of Russian sprinters Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kissing on the podium after their relay team won the 4x400 race at the world track and field championships today in Moscow. This has led to headline after headline saying this was done to protest the country's new anti-gay laws.
There is only one problem: Neither athlete has said anything public about the kiss and sources told Sky News in England that they were celebrating their victory and not making a political statement. What is also unclear is whether this kiss would run afoul of the new laws, which prohibit promoting "homosexual propaganda," since the wording on the law is vague.
I had a Russian boyfriend, so seeing Russians of the same sex (even heterosexuals) kiss is not unusual. However, given the prominence of the new anti-gay laws and the fact that Ryzhova and Firova kissed in full view on the podium in their home country, I certainly am wishing it was an overt protest and not just being caught up in victory. We have to wait for the women to say something before reaching a definitive conclusion. Regardless, their kiss -- deliberate or not -- kept the world's attention on the anti-gay laws for another day.
But in her first comment on the incident, Ryzhova told the Guardian on Monday that the kiss was not a political statement and had nothing to do with the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
"It was just happiness for our team," which has trained together for many years, Ryzhova said on Monday. She declined to comment on her attitude toward LGBT rights.
"If people want to write all sorts of dirt about us, they should at least know that Yulia and I are both married," she added.
Note her use of the word "dirt" to describe the suggestion that the kiss was a protest against anti-gay laws. She doesn't sound like an ally and the excitement over this story was an overreaction from people seeing an image and making assumptions.