Russian athletes attending the World Outgames 2013 in Antwerp this week made a bold and brave statement of solidarity with their fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russian citizens.
Posing for the NOH8 Campaign while in Belgium, these individuals symbolically joined efforts on an international scale to show Russian legislators that there is no place for institutionalized homophobia or intolerance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Team Russia's participation in the "NOH8 Campaign" comes in the midst of an extensive, complex and scary period of time for LGBT Russians following the country's passage of an anti-gay "propaganda" law earlier this year. The law has promoted a climate of fear and violence for LGBT people and has also given rise to additional laws targeting LGBT citizens.
The effect of Russia's anti-gay legislation on the 2014 Sochi Olympics has yet to completely deciphered, though Putin has stressed that no form of protesting will be permitted at the games.