Cher: ‘I immediately said no’ to performing at Olympics in Russia

Cher: ‘I immediately said no’ to performing at Olympics in Russia

In a new interview in Canada’s weekly news magazine Maclean’s, actress and singer Cher said she declined an invitation to open the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia because of the country’s anti-gay laws.

“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. I immediately said no,” she said.

“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,” Cher added.

In the wide-ranging interview, Cher speaks publicly about how she and ex-husband, the late Sonny Bono, were frequently attacked for their appearance in their early days in show business.

“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! You can’t forget that. We tried getting on TV but the backlash against the networks was so bad, they wouldn’t invite us back.”

On their transgender son, Chaz Bono, Cher is one of the few celebrity parents with a transgender child who has spoken openly on the subject.

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“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,” she 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.”

The full interview is at Maclean’s.

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