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Olympic Fire Burns For Whitman Grad 

Melville native Eric Lucrezia is hoping his campaign to boycott the 2014 winter Olympics over Russian anti-gay laws will go viral.

A Melville native now living in Paris, France is hoping his campaign to support a global boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia over anti-gay legislation in the host country will go viral as competition begins next week.

Walt Whitman High School grad Eric Lucrezia launched Design For Equality at midnight on New Year’s Day, an international design contest calling on artists to design a logo “that expresses the discontent we share about the latest anti-gay laws in Russia.”

Lucrezia, who works as an international MBA recruiter for one of France’s top business schools, moved to France in August 2010. Before then, he worked for eight years in the Department of Student Affairs at LIU Post and spent a year each in Barcelona, Spain and Sydney, Australia.

The campaign, he said, strikes a fine balance in a delicate climate.

“You can support the principles of the Olympic spirit and the athletes, and there can still be a boycott to make some noise and get the attention for [gay-rights] causes,” he said.

The winner of the logo contest, as chosen by online voters, will receive $500. That artist’s logo will become the face of what Lucrezia hopes will be a viral, social-media driven boycott of the Olympics. Voting at www.designforequalitycontest.com concludes at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 2.

Making social media the backbone of the campaign will help quantify the number of people participating in the boycott, Lucrezia said.

“How do you make your presence felt if you’re absent from something? That was the point of using social media,” he said.

Lucrezia said the ball got rolling on the Olympics boycott campaign after he was contacted by All Out, a Manhattan-based organization launched in 2011 that campaigns for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world, to participate in a campaign in support of same-sex marriage. But in recent months, his focus – and that of numerous gay-rights organizations around the world – has focused on Russian laws which prohibit sharing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” a euphemism for homosexuality, with minors and a marked increase in anti-gay violence in the country.

Those recent events have led to a call for major corporate sponsors to boycott the Olympics, and gay rights supporters argue the host country’s laws violate the Olympic Charter.

But with little time to spare, campaigners have faced an uphill battle in swaying those major backers so far. Coca-Cola, for instance, which has sponsored the Olympics since 1928, has stood by their decision to sponsor the 2014 Sochi Olympiad, saying in a statement that the Olympics “are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports, and we have seen firsthand the positive impact and long-lasting legacy they leave on every community that has been a host.”

Despite some long odds, Lucrezia is still hopeful his outreach to major LGBT and gay sports organizations since late November will produce the ember that sparks a viral outcry.

“Getting things to go viral is not easy,” he said.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.designforequalitycontest.com.

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