With the opening of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics just days away, an openly lesbian Australian snowboarder sat down with the BBC in order to express her trepidation over speaking out against Russia's culture of fear and violence surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Belle Brockhoff, who publicly came out last summer, told the BBC that "I'm not afraid to express my opinion after the Games, but I don't want any official to pull me aside or someone stop me at the border... I'm not going to go around to every kid in Russia and say, 'Hey, gay is OK.' That's not why I'm there. I was never even thinking about doing that. I just want to support the LGBT community."
Brockhoff also added that her parents are "so worried" about her competing at the Games. According to the BBC, her father fears that the media will "crucify" her and her mother fears that Brockhoff may become a target of the Russian police force.
Brockhoff previously told reporters that she planned on being a vocal opponent of Russia's anti-gay laws, having told Australia's Courier-Mail that "After I compete, I'm willing to rip on [Putin's] ass. I'm not happy and there's a bunch of other Olympians who are not happy either."
In terms of her personal form of protest, Brockhoff told the BBC that the most she will probably do is hold up six fingers while the camera is on her "for principle six."
Principle six of the International Olympic Committee charter reads, "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."
Since Russia passed its anti-gay "propaganda" law last summer, the country's crackdown on the LGBT community has garnered global attention. LGBT Russians have become subject to public acts of violence and private acts of torture, and individuals were warned that protests at the 2014 Olympics will be met with arrest. Though President Vladimir Putin has attempted to reassure gay visitors to the Olympic Games that they will be safe, he has still made threats against the LGBT community, claiming that they must "leave children in peace."
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics begin Friday, Feb. 7.