Family, this is your favorite queer radio personality Anna DeShawn here bringing you a special edition of Queer News; Bring Brittney Home.
I feel compelled to give this story all of our time today. I haven’t felt like the media coverage has been sufficient and if we don’t tell our own stories who will. It’s important that we continue to keep Brittney in the news cycle because we cannot allow her to be lost in the midst of everything else happening around Russia. She too is important. She too deserves our time.
As you all know Brittney Griner, one of the greatest women’s basketball players to ever play the game, was stopped by customs in Russia after they allegedly found vape cartridges which contained THC in her luggage. Y’all these types of charges in Russia can get you up to 10 years. The reports vary but she’s been detained for at least two to three weeks. She was in Russia playing ball like so many WNBA players during the winter. They go overseas to make the money they can’t make in the US. For example, Brittney makes $1.5 million dollars to play in Russia where on the other hand she makes $228,000 dollars to play for the Phoenix Mercury. She’s been playing in Russia for seven years now so I’m sure it’s like a second home for her. Now for the last few weeks WNBA players have been leaving Russia since they invaded Ukraine. It is not a safe place to be right now, to say the very least. A WNBA spokesperson said Saturday that, other than Griner, all of the league’s players who were competing in either Russia or Ukraine this winter are now out of those countries.
Just yesterday Russian State media released a picture of her holding a sign with her name taken inside of a Russian police station. Her current location is unknown which makes all of these even more terrifying. The ongoing concern of course is not just that she is being detained but, how is she being treated? What is happening to her? What is Russia planning to do next? This situation becomes scarier by the day because new sanctions are being rolled out against Russia. The more Russia is on an island the less power the US has to free not only Brittney but other Americans being detained in Russia as well. Most recently, the Biden administration has stopped the import of Russian oil and energy into the US. As President Biden said in a White House briefing, he plans to target the “main artery” of the Russian economy. Gas prices are the highest they’ve been in a long long time and it’s unclear when they will be coming back down. Brittney has found herself in the middle of a physical and political war facing up to 10 years in a Russian prison. She is the prime candidate for becoming a political pawn to push Putin’s agenda. Putin has said himself that the sanctions being imposed on him from the West, that’s us, is a sign of war. He means that. Russia has cut off Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and any other outside media outlets in the country. Their only source for news is Russian controlled media & propaganda. I watched a story where a man who lives in Ukraine called his father in Russia and his father didn’t believe that Russia was invading Ukraine. He didn’t believe Russia had started a war. Take a listen to this clip from CNN. [PLAY CLIP] Isn’t that wild and painfully familiar to what 45 wanted to do to media here in the US.
Earlier this week I reported on Brittney and I want to correct a piece of news I provided when I said that Brittney was on her way home from Russia. According to CNN it appears she was flying into Russia from New York. Now why in the world was she flying into Russia in February, I have no idea. I have so many questions. Questions like, are those your vape cartridges? If so, did you forget they were in your bag? Have you flown with them before into Russia? How long before the invasion did you fly into Russia? My word. The WNBA, the Phoenix Mercury, US State Department are all keeping things really close to the vest right now. Brittney’s agent had this to say, “We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA…As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.” Umm yea. Let me give y’all the rundown. She is a Black queer woman standing 6’9 detained in a country who does not favor LGBTQ folks, who started an unprovoked war with more sancations imposed on them than anytime in recent history, where airspace is restricted so flights aren’t going in and out. Yea we are definitely concerned about her mental health.
Her wife, Cherelle, took to Instagram Saturday night and thanked everyone who has reached out in support of getting BG home. She said, “I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life.” She went on to ask for privacy as they continue to work on getting her home safely. Then just this morning she posted a beautiful pic of BG & the fam where the caption read, “We love you babe! People say “stay busy.” Yet, there’s not a task in this world that could keep any of us from wondering if you are safe. My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats everyday that goes by without hearing from you. I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You’re our person! There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family. ♥” Whew. I can’t even imagine.
I will say, if the hope was to quietly negotiate her return home that is completely out of the question and in turn probably makes things increasingly more difficult. At this point everyone just needs to make as much noise as humanly possible and ideally the noise is international. Her family wants her home no matter what it takes. The US wants her home but I’m sure they have limitations on what they are willing to give to make that happen especially right now at this moment. Not to mention she’s not the only one over there being detained on bogus & inflated charges. So what about them?
Okay, so folks have been asking me if there are ways we can support Brittney at this time, anything we can do. That’s really tough because this goes to the highest levels of our government; quite literally the President and Secretary of State. With that being said I did some research and I believe the best thing we can do is sign on to Tamryn Spruill’s change.org petition. There are currently over 46,000 signatures and it is keeping the story as part of the news cycle which is incredibly important right now. We cannot allow Brittney’s story to get lost in the midst of everything else happening with Russia. Tamryn being a journalist herself has also included names, phone numbers and links to the US Department of State, Arizona Senators, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee & the US Ambassador to Russia. Reaching out to our elected officials is the next best thing we can do and conveying our support for Brittney and expressing the urgency of bringing her home. Hear what Tamryn had to say about Brittney and her impact on the sport in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN [PLAY CLIP].
She is all of those things and I will continue covering this story and providing updates as they become available. Family, take some time and add your name to the petition; a link is in the show notes. Also, take some time to love on your loved ones. For we truly have no idea what the future holds. Till tomorrow, family. Peace.
Sign the Petition – Secure Brittney Griner’s Swift and Safe Return to the U.S.