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

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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.”


Rihanna Offers 'Principle 6' Support for LGBT Russians, Athletes at Sochi: PHOTO

Rihanna

Rihanna is the latest celebrity to don the clothing of the Principle 6 campaign, created as a way to stand in solidarity with LGBT Russians and athletes during the Sochi Games and not violate the country's anti-gay propaganda laws.

Tweeting a photo from her Instagram account wearing a 'P6' cap, Rihanna linked to a Frank Bruni article on the campaign: "#P6 @voguemagazine @alexanderwangny @athleteally ----> http://bruni.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/fashion-fairness-and-the-olympics #AntiDiscrimination"

Rihanna has nearly 46 million followers on her Instagram and Twitter accounts combined.


Hey Coach Jason Kreis! New York Wants A Gay Soccer Player!

Jason_kreisBY DAVID MIXNER

By 2015, New York City will have a new major league soccer team owned by the famous Manchester City. This will be the second in the area with the New Jersey Bulls playing in Harrison, New Jersey. In an announcement this month, the New York City FC presented Jason Kreis (right) as the new coach for the franchise. Now the process of picking the players and ironing out the logistics of where the team will play in NYC.

Kreis has an incredible opportunity to break the glass ceiling here in New York City. The Big Apple has never had an openly gay player in any of its major male sports franchises. While the Los Angeles Galaxy has snapped up out athlete Robbie Rogers and former World Cup German player Thomas Hitzlsperger (below) recently came out of the closet, the time has come for Major League Soccer to embrace the momentum and show the rest of the leagues the way.

T_hitzlspergerOne can't help but wonder what would happen to Hitzlsperger if he was still playing. After the Russians host the Olympics, they will be hosting the World Cup in 2018 and that will be followed by one in Qatar.

In a Guardian/Observer editorial after the German player's coming out, the paper stated:

Now, everyone agrees that a footballer's sexuality should not be a big deal in 2014, but FIFA's response still felt a little casual. Enthusiastically backing Hitzlsperger seemed like an open goal for the organisation, particularly with its recent patchy record on gay rights. The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, which has introduced laws to ban gay "propaganda"; four years later, the tournament moves to Qatar, where homosexuality is still punished with a prison sentence.

There is genuine speculation that players and spectators will be vetted by a Kuwaiti-engineered "gay test" in 2022. When Sepp Blatter, the Clouseau-esque president of Fifa, was asked in 2010 about the issue, he smiled and suggested that homosexual football fans would just have to "refrain from sexual activity" in Qatar. Pushed further last June, he deflected: "What you are speaking about… this is going into ethics and morals." But venturing into these thorny areas is exactly what Fifa should be doing. After years of punishing racism with ineffectual fines, Blatter recently suggested he would be getting tough: deducting points from clubs, eliminating them from competitions. Why should homophobia be any different?

KreisThe Wall Street Journal reports on the new franchise in New York City:

"As he goes about building his first NYCFC side, Kreis will have the enviable resources of Manchester City at his disposal, including a 36-strong scouting team—14 of whom are, significantly, in South America—and the option to loan players from the Manchester City development system. But he will still need all of his powers of good housekeeping as he negotiates the MLS salary cap and a rule book that forces a competitive parity his new bosses are unfamiliar with."

The time has come for New York City to get ahead of the game! With a 36 member scouting team, surely New York City FC should be able to find one great gay soccer player. Really, it can't be that difficult. Coach Kreis has not only the opportunity to make history in New York City but to build a powerful new fan base for his club.

For heaven's sake, don't make New Yorkers go to the stadium and cheer Los Angeles Galaxy because we have no openly gay soccer player in New York. Can you imagine, Sir, how hard that will be for us?

Do the right thing from day one of this club and find a top notch openly gay player that will lead our team to victory, fill the stands with new fans and make all New Yorkers proud to wear that player's jersey.

Watch the press conference announcing Kreis as coach, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Athlete Ally's Hudson Taylor and AllOut's Andre Banks Talk 'Principle 6' with Thomas Roberts: VIDEO

Principle6

Yesterday we reported on the collaboration between Athlete Ally, AllOut, and American Apparel on a new 'Principle 6' line of protest merchandise meant to draw attention to the plight of LGBT people during the Sochi Games in Russia.

The apparel, they argue, is a way to avoid the country's ban on 'gay propaganda' while at the same time expressing solidarity with those affected by oppressive anti-gay laws.

Watch the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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American Apparel's New 'Principle 6' Protest Merchandise Targets Sochi Games, Russia's Anti-gay Laws

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LGBT organizations All Out and Athlete Ally have partnered with American Apparel in the creation of Principle 6, a new line of merchandise that aims to use the Olympic committee's very own charter language as a way for consumers to stand in solidarity with gay Russians, athletes, and visitors during the upcoming Sochi Games. The New York Times reports:

RoddickThe proponents of the Principle 6 campaign say it can be effective because it will avoid the Olympic commtitee's strictures against political statements or demonstrations by using the committee's own language as a rallying cry for nondiscrimination. The line of Principle 6 branded merchandise will bear a rewritten version of the principle's declaration: "Sport does not discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise." (The paraphrase also serves to avoid another sticky issue: The Olympic committee is zealous in its policing of the use of the words "Olympic" or "Olympics" by anyone other than its members and official sponsors.)

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Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, said the merchandise "allows us to deliver the Principle 6 message on a scale that would make the campaign incredibly powerful."

American Apparel is to sell the merchandise online, beginning early Monday morning, and in stores around the world, beginning on Jan. 1. The line will include T-shirts, hoodies, hats, bags and underwear. The proceeds from the sales of the merchandise, minus the costs, "will go to benefit Russian LGBT groups in St. Petersburg and Moscow," Mr. Banks said.

At least four dozen athletes have already committed to working with the campaign including out speed skater Blake Skjellerup, U.S. runner and ally Nick Symmonds, out former Olympic diver Greg Louganis, and tennis player Andy Roddick (above).


James Blake Ends Tennis Career, Condemns Russian Homophobia: VIDEO

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James Blake retired from tennis last night following his first-round defeat by Croatia's Ivo Karlovic at the U.S. Open. In his post-game press conference, Blake talked about being an African-American tennis star and inspiring young players but also talked about homophobia, the AP reports:

Afterward, he talked about tennis, but also causes dear to him. Blake has joined Athlete Ally, an organization working to end homophobia in sports. He lamented an athletic culture "where you're too often seeing a lot of macho sort of showboating when everyone should feel comfortable."

"Sports is a great equalizer," Blake said.

He condemned the law prohibiting gay "propaganda" in Russia, which is hosting the Winter Olympics next year.

"I think everyone at this point, when you look at numbers, someone in your circle, whether it's a family member or a friend, is gay, transgender, or bisexual," he said. "You should appreciate that those people are valued members of society, people that are doing something good in the world. They should feel comfortable to live their lives. I think any sort of policy that discriminates against them, that excludes them, is completely unfair in today's day and age. That's why I say we're 50 years out and there are still things going on that are discriminatory."

As long as we're looking back on Blake's career, let's have a look at this memory from 2006 courtesy of Evian water, when that career really broke out and he burst into the top 20 for the first time.

Check out one more shot, and a brief video of Blake's final moments on the court (if a clip of the post-game press conference described above becomes available, I'll post that too, AFTER THE JUMP...

Blake

Continue reading "James Blake Ends Tennis Career, Condemns Russian Homophobia: VIDEO" »


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