Balding advocates gay 'visibility' before 'avoidance'

Sports presenter Clare Balding has come under attack this week for her participance in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Many feel that as a lesbian Balding should have refused to […]

Clare Balding Gay Visibility Sochi Winter Olympics

Sports presenter Clare Balding has come under attack this week for her participance in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Many feel that as a lesbian Balding should have refused to present in Sochi, publicly boycotting the games in opposition to Russia’s intolerance of homosexuality.

Her contrary decision to present television coverage has caused many members of the gay and straight community alike to angrily label her a ‘sell-out’. The presenter has received scores of abusive tweets on her Twitter, yet she has admirably responded to her critics with conviction and bravery. In response to an accusation of ‘profit before principles’, she replies:

I’d make more at home. I’d be safer and have an easier life. The reason I’m here is to do my job. Visibility before avoidance #pride

Claire Balding makes her message clear. Her motives are not financial but based precisely on those principles which she is accused of lacking. She commendably refuses to shy away from the LGBT rights issue and for this she should be celebrated, not censured.

Balding has come under fire for giving up her principles by reporting on the Winter Olympics in Sochi

Balding has come under fire for giving up her principles by presenting the Winter Olympics in Sochi

Yet, despite negative comments, the debate which has ensued about gay rights may be considered a positive reflection of gay acceptance in the UK.

It must be acknowledged that Clare also received hundreds of messages of support from her fans in regard to the Winter Olympics. ‘A fabulous role model to all those here and abroad #lgbt’, tweets one follower, whilst another rightly acknowledges that ‘she’s good at her job. Let her do it’.

Channel 4 has also demonstrated that they too are on Balding’s wave length, putting visibility before avoidance by rebranding their logo in rainbow colours, in tribute to “all athletes- everyone who is out in Sochi”. The rainbow colours, closely associated with the LGBT community, are a deliberate visual statement of gay pride, a defiant gesture in opposition to Russia’s backward beliefs.

And what is most worth noting is that both critics and fans of Clare alike are ultimately arguing to the same end. The quarrel is merely about the best way to achieve the common aim of gay rights.

We should view the debate surrounding Balding, then, as a positive reflection of the UK’s acceptance and championing of homosexuality. This is something that as a nation we should be proud of and whether it be through visibility or avoidance we should continue to encourage other nations to follow in our footsteps, as we pave the way to a modern world of sexual freedom.

Was Balding right to present the Winter Olympics amidst the controversy? Let us know your thoughts in comments.