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Gay Olympians Blake Skjellerup and Johnny Weir Speak Out on CNN Against Sochi Boycott: VIDEO


Speed skater Blake Skjellerup and figure skater Johnny Weir are in agreement that a boycott of the Sochi 2014 Games over Russia's inhumane treatment of gay people is a bad idea and speak out about how the presence of openly gay athletes at the Games may send a more powerful message.

Check out their conversation, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Out Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup Plans On Wearing Rainbow Pin To Olympic Games In Sochi

Blake Skjellerup
Openly gay New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup has already made his feelings known on Russia and the anti-gay laws it recently passed. According to the International Olympic Committee, athletes competing at the games have nothing to worry about. Whether or not that will actually be true remains to be seen, especially now that Skjellerup plans on wearing a rainbow pin to the games, according to Canada's Daily Xtra

In light of recent human rights atrocities taking place both in Sochi and throughout Russia, many LGBT and human rights activists are calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games taking place in Sochi. Athletes like Skjellerup and figure skater Johnny Weir disagree. The speed skater told Daily Xtra that, "I think visibility is the best possible solution, as opposed to hiding away and not attending." He went on to explain...

“For me it’s less about taking a stand and more about just being myself...I have no interest in going back into the closet in Sochi...This is not about defiance. This is me standing up for what I believe in.”

Nevertheless, his small statement would almost certainly be in violation of Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" law, which prohibits:

“Spreading information in order to form non-traditional sexual desires in children, describing such relations as attractive, promoting the distorted understanding of social equality of traditional and non-traditional relations and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest to such relations." 

Sochi olympicsTowleroad readers will remember that this law applies to foreigners as well, and that it was recently used as grounds for the arrest of four Dutch LGBT activists. Thus, should Skjellerup decide to make good on his promise, he would certainly be placing a great deal of faith in the IOC. As was noted by Daily Xtra, the Canadian government's travel advisory warns travellers to Russia to “exercise a high degree of caution.” 

RUSA LGBT, a Russian LGBT group based in New York, has expressed support for Skjellerup and his idea, and are even taking it upon themselves to manufacture rainbow pins for even more athletes travelling to Sochi. Yelena Goltsman, the group's founder and co-president, encouraged tourists to boycott the region. However...

"It’s not fair to ask athletes not to go. It’s not their fault. But maybe they can make a statement, and that can come from many counties.”

Goltsman also encouraged LGBT advocates to boycott major sponsors of the Olympics, including "Coca-Cola, Omega Watches, VISA, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, McDonalds and Panasonic."

Is Skjellerup's idea worth pursuing? Or is boycotting still the best course of action? Will the rainbow pins pose a risk to any athletes who might choose to wear them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Out Olympic Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup Speaks Out Against Russia's Anti-Gay Law: VIDEO


With Russia's new gay "propaganda" ban signed into law last month, LBGT Olympians from around the world are already anticipating the chilling effects that the new law will bring to Sochi.

In an interview with Vocativ, Blake Skjellerup, a New Zealand speed skating hopeful who competed in Vancouver in 2010, blasted the new law for being a major step backwards in terms of Olympic commitments to diversity and LGBT inclusiveness. 

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 7.58.20 PMSays Skjellerup:

"I think being in a country like Russia where they've decided to introduce these new laws basically saying telling children that homosexuals don't exist is a massive step backwards for the LGBT human rights movement for the world, not just for Russia."

Unlike the Vancouver Olympics, Sochi will not have a Pride House for LGBT Athletes. Blake says the Pride House in Vancouver made him realize "being out and being open is a great thing, something to be proud of and not something you should hide."

If selected to participate in the 2014 Olympics, Blake plans on wearing a rainbow flag pin as a symbol of pride and defiance. "If it gets me in trouble, then I guess so be it."  

Check out the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Russian 'Spokesperson' Johnny Weir Tells Gay Olympic Athletes to Tone Down the Flamboyance or Suffer the Consequences

Figure skater Johnny Weir is a self-described 'Russophile' so the country's proposed ban on gay "propaganda" (already passed in St. Petersburg) won't stop him from competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics, but he's warning other gay athletes not to do certain things or suffer the consequences, USA Today reports:

WeirIf he makes the Olympic team, Weir doesn't want to make an issue of his sexuality, he said. For him, the Olympics should be about sport and competition. But he does have advice for gay athletes unfamiliar with the culture.

"My advice would be: Watch what you do when you leave the Village, don't be aggressive, don't wear a big rainbow flag fur coat. If you don't call attention to yourself, attention won't come to you."

Then Weir added, in a way only he can, "I'm not going to be having sex in a Metro station. And if you are doing that, then maybe you deserve to be caught."

Added Weir: "I love Russia and there is nothing that will change that. I'm a true patriot and spokesperson for their country. It's appalling they can censor their public, but I try to do everything I can. I have been in talks with different LBGT organizations in Russia with how I can help."

Out speed skater Blake Skjellerup is more hesitant: "I don't want to have to tone myself down about who I am. That wasn't very fun and there's no way I'm going back in the closet. I just want to be myself and I hate to think that being myself would get me in trouble."

St. Petersburg's restrictive law bans and impose fines ($16,000 on individuals and up to $160,000 on legal entities) on all Gay Pride events, LGBT organizations, and anything considered to be "promotion" of homosexuality.

The federal law, if passed, would enact similar penalties.

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1095

FLAMING SHOT: Don't try this at home. Really.

RAFA AND RONALDO: Hit a few balls.

BLAKE SKJELLERUP: An update from the out Olympian on what he's been up to.

NAYA RIVERA: A new anti-bullying spot from GLAAD and The Weinstein Company. Two more feature Glee's Cory Monteith and Jersey Shore's Vinny Guadagnino.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Gay New Zealand Olympian Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup Launches Anti-Bullying Campaign


'Pink Shirt Day' is a nationwide campaign to fight bullying in New Zealand. Out kiwi speed skater Blake Skelljerup is kicking off the campaign with a video encouraging others to join.

He writes:

I want every difference to be celebrated, not challenged. I want the youth of the world to know that whatever they are feeling, whatever they are thinking, that it is completely natural. I do not want anyone to be persecuted for being themselves.

So I got involved in a nationwide campaign here in New Zealand to combat this. Pink Shirt Day is a campaign to eliminate bullying in our schools. Gay, straight, African, Asian…anyone who believes that bullying has no place in schools, and those who want to show support for those who are and have been bullied, and obviously those who are bullied, should wear a pink shirt on April 14th to unite against this.

Along with this, youth groups across the country launched a letter-writing campaign to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key. Anyone who believes in the above paragraph is encouraged to sign the letter, and share their story on how bullying has affected them.


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