The Sochi Olympics, Celebration Capitalism and Homonationalist Pride

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Travers, A. and M. Shearman (2017). "The Sochi Olympics, celebration capitalism, and homonationalist pride." Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 41(1), 42-69.


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In July 2013 the Russian government passed two anti-LGBT laws that drew international criticism. Russia‚Äôs impending hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games inspired more sustained international attention to these laws than might have otherwise been the case. In this article, we apply the mutually supporting frameworks of queer/trans necropolitics and celebration capitalism to a content analysis of coverage of the Sochi Olympics in the Advocate and Xtra, the leading LGBT publications in the United States and Canada respectively. We contend that the Advocate and Xtra participated in a homonationalist process of manufacturing consent as the USA, Canada, the West in general and the Olympic Games were glorified while issues relating to racism and colonialism in Russia, the USA and Canada were ignored and these geopolitical formations in general were falsely generalized as safe havens for LGBT people. This conclusion is based on two key observations. First, we noted complete silence about racist and ethnic violence in Russia and in the specific site of Sochi in the Advocate and only one (unelaborated) acknowledgement of Sochi as a historical site of ethnic cleansing in Xtra. Second, in spite of the recent expansion of formal citizenship rights for LGBT people, more uniformly in Canada than in the USA, Advocate and Xtra coverage failed to acknowledge the dissonance between American and Canadian governments positioning themselves as LGBT and human rights leaders and the harm these National Security States continue to deliver to racialized, impoverished and gender and sexual minority populations. 

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