The Sochi Games: Raising The LGBT Flag

Kardelen Akkus

The University of New Haven’s Institution for Social Justice along with UNH Pride held an informative social on Thursday, Feb. 6, in light of the harsh treatment of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender society in Russia, where the Winter Olympics commenced Friday.

Photo Provided by Leila Dutton
Photo Provided by Leila Dutton

The event attracted about 25 people, including students, faculty members, and people outside of the UNH community. Guests were welcomed by the organizer and director of the ISJ, Dr. Tracy Tamborra, an associate Professor at UNH in the Criminal Justice department.

Dr. Tamborra said, “Anytime a political system or institution oppresses one group, it’s not far until they start with other groups.” The powerful words refer to the oppression of the LGBT community in Russia, who are being hunted down and punished for a victimless “crime.” She clarifies that standing together as a group employs diversity and raising the LGBT pride flag symbolized a moment of solidarity and celebration of infusion.

The next speaker, Dr. David Schroeder of the Criminal Justice department, spoke on behalf of Dean Gaboury of Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. “On a personal note, it’s kind of amazing to see this. When I was in college, this didn’t happen,” he said. Dr. Schroeder expressed that sexuality should play no part in the discussion as it is happening in Russia at the moment. Groups are being separated on the grounds of sexual preference; and policies have been put into place to maintain the separation. He hopes to see continued change of conditions and laws in this country and set an example for other countries.

The campus minister, Dr. Martin O’Connor of the Fire Science and Professional Studies department, introduced his speech by quoting Amos 5:21, “ Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” As he elaborated, Dr. O’Connor mentioned how remarkable it is that people have used the phrase for centuries as a reminder for social justice.

Junior Brittany Bauch, criminal justice major and member of UNH’s victimology club, emphasized the importance of awareness of victimization. She specifically discussed sexual assault, of which anyone is capable of, and the higher rates of such in the LGBT community. Somewhat related, Bauch relays actress’ Cynthia Nixon’s statement, “Gay people don’t want to redefine marriage, but simply want to be invited to the table,” to the discussed topic.

Sophomore Mary Merena, forensic psychology major and member of UNH Pride, said even though people have changed their attitudes towards the LGBT mindset, “we still have a long way to go to achieve equality.”

Freshman Robyn McBurney, member of the Institution for Social Justice, reminded the audience of what the Olympics stand for, “unity,” “peace,” and “celebration.”

McBurney mentioned President Putin’s Gay Propaganda bill and Adoption, which resulted in violent crimes against the LGBT community. Many renowned Olympic athletes, celebrities and Nobel laureates have spoken out. President Obama, Vice President Biden, German President Gauck, French President Hollande and EU commissioner Reding have all declined their invitations to the games as their own form of boycott.