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Billie Jean King Talks Sochi Olympics, Russia’s Anti-gay Laws on ‘Today’ – VIDEO

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who will be one of three openly gay U.S. delegates to the upcoming Sochi Games, stopped by The Today Show to discuss her thoughts on the added safety/security precautions underway in Russia as well as what it means for openly gay athletes to represent the U.S. presidential delegation.    

Said King:

"When we step off the plane we are part of America. We are what an America looks like. So I think President Obama has done an amazing job on promoting diversity and inclusion. He has been the all-time president for doing that. And he’s showing the Russians, ‘Listen everybody belongs in the United States of America.'"

She goes on to discuss what a protest of Russia’s anti-gay laws may look like while at Sochi.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Kate McKinnon Plays Billie Jean King in Hilarious Preview of Sochi Olympics on SNL: VIDEO

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As you know, Obama is send several openly gay athletes in the U.S. Delegation to the Sochi Olympics, and Billie Jean King (Kate McKinnon) appeared on SNL's 'Weekend Update' to talk about gays and the upcoming Games.

Said McKinnon: "BJK's about to double-down. And Putin's gonna find himself in the epicenter of a gay tornado...There is no demographic in this world that gives less of a flip than 70-year-old lesbians."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Stephen Colbert Volleys with Billie Jean King: VIDEO

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Out tennis legend Billie Jean King rattles Stephen Colbert in a discussion of her 'Battle of the Sexes' match against Bobby Riggs which captivated America in 1973. King is now the subject of an American Masters episode.

Says King: "I always want both genders to champion each other. I just think it's really important. I know it's really idealistic but I don't care. Our job in this world is to help each other and champion each other and we're in this world together so let's make the best of it!"

Colbert also asks her about being in the closet when she was a tennis pro. He asks her if it ever upset her when a line judge, yelled "Out!"

"Yes," she replies.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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First Inductees of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame Honored in Chicago

21 individuals, three organizations, one sports team, and one corporation were among those honored Friday night in Chicago as the first inductees to the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. The events, according to CBS News, included "a dinner Friday night to honor the inductees at a ceremony at the Center on Halsted and an event on Saturday at Wrigley Field called 'Out at Wrigley,' which organizers says is the largest "Gay Day' at a major league sporting event."

PalloneAmong those inducted was Dave Pallone, who umpired the first night game at Wrigley Field.

Said Pallone, via the AP:

"It is a tremendous honor and ... I hope it gives young people and adults alike who happen to be LGBT and want to be in professional sports another example of why they should continue to strive for their dreams," Pallone said.

Pallone also spoke out about the situation in Russia: "The Olympic Games are for the athletes, not for political or religious figures. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, colors and orientations," said David Pallone, a former umpire in Major League Baseball. "I truly believe that the IOC should really start thinking about the athletes before they select the host cities."

The complete list of the organization's first inductees:

Gay Games, Outsports.com, Chicago Cubs, International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), Anheuser Busch, Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Ben Cohen, Dave Pallone, Justin Fashanu, LZ Granderson, Christina Kahrl, Dr. Tom Waddell, Chuck Dima, Jerry Pritikin, Dave Kopay, Glenn Burke, Renee Richards, Billie, Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Patty Sheehan, Andrew Goldstein, Jason Collins, Orlando Cruz and Johnny Weir.


Martina Navratilova: Jason Collins' Coming Out 'Will Save Lives'

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who helped pave the way for Jason Collins' coming out with her own years ago, praised Jason Collins in a Sports Illustrated column today.

NavratilovaShe says, humbly, that although she had less support and lost endorsements it was easier in a way:

When I came out, in 1981, I didn't have much public support and I know I lost endorsements. But I never had to worry about losing my job. In tennis, there are no bosses, no general managers and no coaches who can keep players from competing. So I was safe in that regard. For team sports athletes, this is not the case. A homophobic coach at any level -- high school, college or pros -- could keep a player from playing.

And she makes note of what it will mean for gay kids:

Now that Jason Collins has come out, he is the proverbial "game-changer." One of the last bastions of homophobia has been challenged. How many LGBT kids, once closeted, are now more likely to pursue a team sport and won't be scared away by a straight culture?

Collins has led the way to freedom. Yes, freedom -- because that closet is completely and utterly suffocating. It's only when you come out that you can breathe properly. It's only when you come out that you can be exactly who you are. Collins' action will save lives. This is no exaggeration: Fully one third of suicides among teenagers occur because of their sexuality. Collins will truly affect lives, too. Millions of kids will see that it is OK to be gay. No need for shame, no need for embarrassment, no need for hiding.

Navratilova hopes that Collins actions create "an avalanche" of similar revelations.

In related news, Billie Jean King tweeted today:

I am thrilled @JasonCollins34 was able to come out on his own terms and, as he put it, is ready to continue the conversation. This is a day of celebration for the LGBT community and for all of us. I look forward to the day when the news of anyone coming out, is a non-issue and once we reach that point we will know we have arrived.


LGBT Celebrities Speak Out for Obama: VIDEO

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Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Chaz Bono, George Takei, Zachary Quinto, Wanda Sykes, and Billie Jean King speak out about Obama's LGBT accomplishments and what it means to them in a new video for the campaign.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

And remember, get out and vote!

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