Athlete Ally’s Hudson Taylor Explains Athletes’ Silence on Gay Rights in Sochi


On a SXSW panel discussion about the intersection of LGBT issues and sports, Athlete Ally’s Hudson Taylor shared his thoughts on the surprising lack of Olympic athletes who publicly spoke out in Sochi about Russia’s anti-gay laws. 

S2_sxswTaylor said he was originally optimistic about using the international spotlight of the Olympic platform to advocate for LGBT equality and pointed to the numerous current and former athletes (and even Rihanna) who embraced his Principle 6 protest campaign before the Games began. Ultimately, however, Taylor said that the dozen or so Olympic athletes who both competed in Sochi and were also backers of his Principle 6 campaign failed to garner the medals that would have provided them with the necessary media coverage to truly make a lasting statement. 

'68 olympicsTaylor also pointed to the iconic 1968 Olympic photo of John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising their fists in protest of racial injustice and lamented the reality that a similar push for gay rights failed to materialize in Sochi. 

But despite the missed opportunity, Taylor said he was looking ahead to the 2018 World Cup in Russia) and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as future opportunities to use an international sporting event to shine a light on discriminatory laws. Qatar remains one of the countries where homosexuality is still illegal

In my skinIn the meantime, Taylor stressed the need for LGBT athletes and their straight allies to stand up and speak out against the culture of homophobia in sport. He pointed to fellow panelist Brittney Griner (who was there discussing her new book In My Skin) as a great example of an athlete who is changing the sporting world just by being out and proud. Ultimately, however, Taylor said there is much work to be done in order to make the sporting world a more comfortable place for LGBT athletes. 

“While the reality is we’ve seen a lot of progress in the sports world over the last few years, we still have a long way to go,” Taylor said. “There are still a lot of closeted athletes. There are still people being bullied, being isolated because of their sexual orientation. We still only have one [gay athlete] in the NBA and maybe one in the [upcoming] NFL.”


  1. Jeff says

    I think the lack of people speaking out, the ioc and sponsors like coca cola, mcdonalds, samsung, panasonic, nbc etc gave Putin no fear to go into Ukraine. He is a narcissist and saying nothing fuels him to continue on his way of doing as he pleases. Continue to boycott Olympic sponsors.

  2. litper says

    yeah, IOC and it’s sponsors are responsible for Ukraine crisis. I feel so sad for Paralympians who are now taken hostage by Putin!

  3. says

    It was absolutely pathetic the way the namby gay community pulled their foreskins over their heads and, as usual, believed they would be heard. Sochi was a big joke to the gay community. We accomplished nothing. Those who were sent to deed and protect us whimped-out badly only to try and save themselves with a last minute “I’ll be there…” PR move. Nobody from our own community was there to stand up and thrust a fist in the air. No one. And that is just plain pathetic. But that’s just how we are. We keep believing that someone somewhere is going to come along and save us and more importantly, we must not upset the apple cart, we dare not call a spade a spade and God forbid we make any kinds of open demands. I wash my hands. I was poo-poo’d for advocating full boycott and yet, that’s exactly what the U.S. should have done. Now we’ve got pussy Putin rampaging over the Ukrainian people and we’re doing nothing about it. I simply give up with my own community. Wusses. Everyone of them.

  4. Sammy says

    I find it concerning the coverage of this panel was on the straight white male ally and we didn’t hear a word about the thoughts of the actual athletes present.


  5. jomicur says

    AS is the case with nearly everything, it’s about the money. Sports is big business, and despite all the protestations to the contrary, so are the Olympics. These athletes have agents, publicists and other hangers-on to pay. As Upton Sinclair famously said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something as long as his salary depends on not understanding it.”

  6. says

    I remember years ago when Surya Bonaly executed her backflip, landed it on one blade (which NOBODY ELSE, female or male can do…) and thus made her point and removed herself from any possible medal contention.

    My fave olympic moment in the history of the games. Not about winning, not about kissing @ss, but about sticking to what you know to be true.

    Sochi was deplorable. Athletes confronted the bigotry and hatred and persecution of LGBT people in Russia with the courage and integrity of a bowl of mashed potatoes. All these excuses are pathetic. Know what happens when we all stand up to defy hate? We’re stronger – the Russian govt’ would not have arrested hundreds of athletes en masse.

    Alas, we found out that they’re not athletes. they’re “Just Athletes” – there’s a difference.

    Canadian olympians embarrassed my country with their pathetic fawning over and taking selfies with Putin when he visited Canada House.
    We had no Jesse Owens moment. Nobody stood up or said a damned thing. I didn’t watch one motherloving minute of this year’s olympics.

    No boycott meant more money to Russia. Good thing they’re now invading Ukraine, eh!?!?

    No Jesse Owens for us. No solidarity. No defiance of prejudice and hate and fear. Nope. “Sorry folks, i’m only here to try get this medal. and adopt a stray dog. dogs are so cute! did you hear they mistreat dogs in russia!?”

    they also mistreat LGBT people, you plebeian hacks.