Cher Turned Down Olympics Gig Because of Russia’s ‘Gay Hate’

She ‘immediately said no’ to a Russian official who asked to perform, she says.

SEPTEMBER 13 2013 1:35 PM ET

Not that LGBT people needed another reason to love Cher, but there is one — she turned down a chance to give the opening performance at the upcoming Olympics in Russia because of all the “gay hate” there.

“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 told Canadian newsmagazine Maclean’s. “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 the wide-ranging interview, she discussed how the treatment she and former husband Sonny Bono received made her empathize with other outsiders, and she also noted her support for her transgender son, Chaz Bono.

“People hated Sonny 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!”

She admitted she was concerned when Chaz began his transition. “When Chaz first told me she was going to do it — pronoun problem, when he first told me — and the process started, I was so frightened,” Cher said. “One time I called Chaz and he had forgot to change his voicemail and it was his old voice. It shook me a bit. These are small changes that as a mother you never forget. It is the last taboo. It used to be against the law. Thank God we’ve come so far.”


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