Carbondale Company Protests Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

Dec 20, 2013

As winter sports athletes prepare for the Olympics in Sochi, attention is being focused on Russia’s new anti-gay laws, enacted earlier this year.  While some activists are calling for a boycott of Sochi, others hope to draw attention to the discriminatory law.  A small furniture design company in Carbondale has come up with a creative way to get its point across. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

The owner of Board by Design created a t-shirt protesting an anti-gay law Russia enacted in June. Brad Reed Nelson helped design the t-shirt that’s being sold over the internet.

"It’s two bears, which in Russian culture, they’ve had a history since the 1780’s and they’re used as kind of a cartoon representation of the country," he says.

The bears on the shirt are tugging on both sides of a rainbow, trying to straighten it out. That signifies Reed Nelson’s effort to quote “straighten out peoples’ viewpoints.”

He says he wants Olympic hopefuls from the Roaring Fork Valley to wear the shirt. And, he says he hopes it starts a conversation.

"We want people to be talking about this, it’s really important. And, it’s not just about sexual orientation, it’s about human rights issues."

He says the company plans to order 8000 t-shirts and there’s already been some online purchases.

This week President Obama announced he’s not attending the Winter Olympics in Russia in February. Instead, the official U.S. delegation will include openly gay athletes like tennis great Billie Jean King and two-time hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow. American gay-rights groups applauded the move.