Gay icon Cher says she turned down an offer to perform at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi because of all the “gay hate” in Russia.

“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,” Cher said in a wide-ranging interview with Canadian weekly 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.”

(Related: Majority of Russians would reject gay neighbor, co-worker.)

Cher added that she and her former husband, the late entertainer-turned-politician Sonny Bono, were bullied for looking different.

“People hated Sonny and I in the early days because we looked and acted so different. Sonny was always getting into fights – people would call him 'fag' and he'd get his nose broken – only because we were dressing different. And these were our street clothes!”