Cher has been a vocal gay ally for most of her decades-long career, and her latest public stance is no exception. In an interview with Canada’s MacLean’s magazine, Cher revealed that she was asked to come to Russia during next year’s Winter Olympics but declined due to the country’s recent anti-gay law.
“I can’t name names, but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show,” she said. “I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does.”
In July, Russia passed a controversial law that bans the public discussion or display of gay rights in front of minors. With Russia hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, many gay-rights advocates have spoken out against the law.
Prison Break star Wentworth Miller recently came out as a gay man in an open letter to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival explaining why he couldn’t accept an invitation to the Russian event. “I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government,” he wrote. George Takei and Stephen Fry have also spoken out about Russia hosting the Olympics, and Bravo’s Andy Cohen turned down hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.
Cher told MacLean’s that she’s always identified with the LGBT community because she’s often felt like she’s on the fringes of society. “People hated [late ex-husband] Sonny [Bono] and I in the early days because we looked and acted so different,” she said. “Sonny was always getting into fights — people would called him ‘fag’ and he’d get his nose broken — only because we were dressing different. And these were our street clothes! You can’t forget that.”