Aspen Mayor To Wear Shirt Protesting Russia's Anti-Gay Law

Jan 29, 2014

A Carbondale artist came up with this design for a t-shirt he's working to get Olympians to wear. It's meant to protest Russia's anti-gay laws.
Credit Facebook/Straighten Out The Rainbow Campaign

Aspen’s mayor and other city council members will be sporting a rainbow at Wednesday's Olympic send-off celebration. The mayor agreed this week to wear a t-shirt protesting Russia’s anti-gay law. As Marci Krivonen reports, a Carbondale artist designed the shirt.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Carbondale artist Brad Reed Nelson spoke up during the citizen comment period.

"I’ve started a program called Straighten Out the Rainbow and it’s a program to bring attention to what’s going on in Russia with the anti-gay laws."

Last June, President Vladimir Putin's banned "gay propaganda."

The main component of Nelson’s program is a t-shirt that several Olympians have agreed to wear in their free time. It features two bears decked in boots and Russian-style winter hats pulling on both sides of a rainbow, trying to straighten it out.

The project’s Facebook page says, the imagery is meant to provoke conversation about straightening out misconceptions of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual personhood.

Nelson says 25 Olympians have agreed to wear the shirt. Most competed in past Olympics, although Nordic skier Simi Hamilton will get a shirt. He’s competing next month in Russia. On Monday, Nelson asked council to don the shirts during an Olympic ceremony at the Gondola plaza.

"I feel like Aspen is about insightfulness and forward thinking and I feel like the Olympics host country is supposed to be an entity that holds a high standard, and I don’t feel like Russia’s doing that."

Mayor Steve Skadron agreed to wear the t-shirt.

"I’ll wear it for you and I’ll be reading the proclamation," he said.

Other council members gave their shirt sizes as well. The Olympic send-off event will start at 4 pm Wednesday. The money raised through t-shirt sales is going to the group, It Gets Better, a national program which supports LGBT youth.