10-Time Gay Paralympic Gold Medalist: ‘I Don’t Care if I Go to Prison’ for Speaking Out Against Russia

Gay 10-time British paralympic equestrian gold medalist Lee Pearson says he feels the need to go to Sochi and speak out against Russia's anti-gay laws.

Pearson"I don't care if it means I go to prison," he tells the Mail on Sunday. "In some respects I hope I do because then the Prime Minister and my country would have to get involved and that would add to the embarrassment for Russia."

Adds Pearson:

"Those calling for a boycott don't understand that the Olympics and Paralympics could be the one chance these sportsmen and women have to achieve their goals. Yes, they can be sympathetic towards our cause but their first goal must be to do their best. I say to Stephen, Rupert and all those backing a boycott that Sochi is going to happen whatever they say and they should join me so our collective message to Russia is stronger. It's much more powerful to be there than not…But the bigger reason for not boycotting Sochi is that you'd simply be putting your head in the sand. Isn't it much better to educate Russians and shed more light on the legislation both in Russia and worldwide? It is shocking. It's like Germany in the Thirties. We shouldn't ignore this."

Pearson also slammed the IOC:

"There is conflict with the Olympic Charter. Aren't the Olympics and Paralympics all about the coming together of the people of the world where race, creed and sexuality are of no matter? The eyes of the world are on the Olympics and Paralympics. It should be all about equality."

Yet the IOC can't say the word 'gay'.


  1. Daniel says

    This is how every LGBT athlete and ally should be responding to the pernicious laws there.

    The whole situation of the silent gay athlete reminds me so much of those who try to “pass for white” (which, understandably and sadly, still continues to this day). Sexual minorities have the luxury, if it can be called that, of being able to choose invisibility. But there is nothing proud about denying who you are, even if it’s a silent denial.

  2. Leroy Laflamme says

    Noble sentiments, well articulated! Personally, I’m for boycotting, in my own, small way. We’re a ‘Nielsen family’ & I know that my household ignoring Sochi coverage altogether will be a matter of record in the statistics – tempted as I am to watch the opening & closing ceremonies… I’m a sucker for that stuff.

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