Your Big Gay Olympics Soundtrack

Twenty protest, queer and sporting songs to which to watch the Sochi Games—or, maybe better, not to watch

I am on the record here as not being much of a sports fan, but I have a soft spot for the Olympics, one of the few chances to see a lot of non-team sports on TV and like the World Cup generally made more interesting (albeit not more virtuous) due to its internationalism.

Still, ideally everyone would switch off the Sochi Winter Olympics right now. Only a huge plummet in ratings could convince the almost impressively amoral International Olympics Committee to stop awarding hosting duties to minority-torturing despots (up to and including Hitler in 1936).

If you don’t believe me, believe members of Pussy Riot.

But, but, but. I know. We want to watch the skating. The jumping. The snug body fit of the luge. So here’s one thing to do: turn down the sound and put on queer-positive background music so that at least in your house—or your sports bar, you publican readers!—Vladimir Putin’s attempt to whitewash his gay-persecuting regime will instead seem like a huge gay festival.

Going by the opening ceremonies, perhaps a few of his programmers have the same idea, slipping a Queen song and pretend-lesbian duo t.A.T.u. past authorities. Or using them to placate the West. Or maybe just not realizing it at all: While a few commentators recently have boggled at how “gay” Russia’s anti-gay pop culture seems to be, they’re forgetting that a few short decades ago many North Americans accepted Freddie Mercury as a hetero rock stud, didn’t get the joke about the Village People and (a couple of decades earlier) took Liberace’s cover story with a straight face. So things can and do change.

Meanwhile, for your big-O-lympic pleasure, here’s a cornholeucopia of anti-Putin protest anthems, queer sports songs and other suitable novelties, whether in pump-you-up mode or suitable for slow couples skates.

1. Momus, “Love on Ice”

I round out the choral section, and our program, with Toronto’s homegrown volunteer songsters singing a topically adapted version of Sting’s mawkish Cold War protest song. Cheesy, but kind of moving too, and a heartfelt community gathering seems like a fine place to end up.

Carl Wilson is the Toronto-based author of Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, named the best music book of the decade by Paste magazine; Nick Hornby wrote in The Believer, "I may well have to insist that you read this book." It is being reissued in new, expanded form in 2013.