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04/19/2007


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.”


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

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


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).


New Campaign To Uphold Olympic Charter Principle 6 Gains Support Of Olympic Athletes

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Earlier this week we reported on the IOC's feeble response to growing concern across the globe that it is not willing to uphold its own charter in support of LGBT athletes and fans, specifically Olympic Principle 6 which states, "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement." While IOC President Thomas Bach insisted that the Committee would work to make sure that the Sochi Games would be "free of any form of discrimination," Bach refused to make any specific mention of gay rights.

Yesterday, activist organizations Athlete Ally and All Out announced a new campaign "to protest Putin’s anti-gay and anti-human rights crackdown during Sochi" that focuses on upholding Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. Fifteen Olympians have already signed on to the campaign including Sochi bound Mike Janyk (Skiing) as well as Andy Roddick (Tennis), Nick Symmonds (Running), Steve Nash (Basketball) and Megan Rapinoe (Soccer):

"Principle 6 is a way for Olympians and fans to stand up for equality and protest the heinous Russian laws. Through Principle 6 we can mobilize and inspire mass support for the ideals set forth in the Olympic Charter. Even if the International Olympic Committee won't act, people around the world will," Andre Banks Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out said.

8090753703254.Ur8s22MMfg80dKGtoiVD_height64“Helping to craft this petition to IOC President Bach is an important part of my work as an Ambassador for Athlete Ally and very much in step with being an Olympian,” said Cameron Myler, a four time Olympian who carried the US flag in in the 1994 Lillehammer Games. “Standing by idly while the values of the Olympic movement are in question is not an option for me and many others.”

“The Principle 6 campaign will take many forms because it is reflective of the diversity that the Olympic Charter has charged itself with upholding, " said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "We are launching the Principle 6 campaign with Olympic athletes because their action affirms the duty and honor of Olympic Movement. They are leaders, and just like they do in their fields of play, Olympians always seem to find new ways to inspire us.”

"With the eyes of the world on Russia during the Olympics, it's critical that athletes and fans show support for LGBT Russians who are subjected to cruel anti-gay laws violating human rights. Defending Principle 6 affords all of us a way to demonstrate this support, and our outrage at the Putin-led government, within the very spirit of the Olympic movement. We can't afford to lose this opportunity to push for change,” said Brian Ellner, a leading LGBT activist and member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors.

Download_assetAs you may recall, there's been some debate as how best to respond to the recent spate of anti-gay atrocities and legal infractions in Russia, with proposals varying widely between an all out boycott of the Olympics to displays of civil disobedience at the Sochi Games. However, as Frank Bruni at The New York Times points out, the Principle 6 campaign could open up a new path for peaceful protest:

"[The campaign to uphold Principle 6] may well steer clear of the flaws and dangers of other ideas. It involves appropriating the I.O.C.’s own words and stated values and turning them into a coded affirmation of LGBT equality, an epigrammatic protest of Russia’s laws that doesn’t include the word “gay” or any of the conventional symbols of the gay rights movement. Russians wouldn’t easily be able to classify it as so-called gay propaganda, which the country deems illegal. And I.O.C. officials could hardly take offense and muster any opposition...The symbol and the syllables P6, perhaps worn as a sticker, perhaps woven into clothing, could evolve into something along the lines of a Livestrong bracelet: a ubiquitous motif that doesn’t spell out a whole philosophy but has an unmistakable meaning and message.

[Athlete Ally and All Out] want to make P6 the rainbow flag that’s not a rainbow flag, the shout-out for equality that sidesteps the syllable gay, which is so ridiculously risky in the context of these particular Winter Games.

For an athlete to wear a P6 symbol would be “like a Supreme Court justice tattooing the First Amendment on his or her arm,” Ellner said. “Is that political? No. It’s the Constitution.”

Check out the full list of Olympians who signed their names to the campaign AFTER THE JUMP...

You can also join the petition to Uphold Principle 6 HERE.

Continue reading "New Campaign To Uphold Olympic Charter Principle 6 Gains Support Of Olympic Athletes" »


Athlete Ally's Hudson Taylor: 'We Have Opportunity to Show the World Gay Rights are Human Rights' - VIDEO

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Athlete Ally's Hudson Taylor spoke with CNN yesterday about efforts to assure the safety of LGBT athletes and visitors to Sochi and shine a spotlight on Russia's anti-gay laws.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Athlete Ally's Hudson Taylor: 'We Have Opportunity to Show the World Gay Rights are Human Rights' - VIDEO" »


International Olympic Committee to Receive 300,000 Signatures Urging It to Condemn Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

The International Olympic Committee is set to receive a large delivery tomorrow, according to a press release from the LGBT sports group Athlete Ally:

SochiOn Wednesday at 2:00 PM local time, All Out will deliver more than 300,000 signatures from All Out members, a letter from British actor Stephen Fry, as well as thousands of signatures from Athlete Ally members and former Olympians including Greg Louganis, a four-time Olympic Gold medalist, to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters.

This global call is urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to condemn Russia's anti-gay laws before the Olympics Games, denounce the laws and urge Russia to ensure the security of all visitors, athletes and Russian people, before, during, and after the Games.

"We hope the International Olympic Committee responds to All Out's members and the millions of people worldwide who want Russia to treat all of their citizens with dignity under the law," said Anastasia Smirnova, from the Russian LGBT Network in St Petersburg. "Unless the anti-gay laws are repealed now, after Sochi Russians will be left with a government ready to punish people simply because of who they are or who they love. We continue our call for world leaders, including the IOC, to speak out now before it is too late."

Olympians and athletes from around the world shared statements of solidarity with All Out and Athlete Ally ahead of the petition delivery including four-time Olympic Gold medalist Greg Louganis, Super Bowl Champion Brendon Ayabadejo, Oakland Raider Chris Kluwe, ATP tennis players Mardy Fish and James Blake, Australian Women’s Cricket player Alex Blackwell, and Israeli Basketball Super League's Dan Grunfeld.

"We believe that when people know better, they do better," said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "We see the opportunity for a globally transformative experience to rise out of the ignorance and bigotry in Russia."

Greg Louganis four-time Olympic Gold medalist and Athlete Ally Ambassador said: "I urge the International Olympic Committee to listen to the more than 300,000 people who have signed Athlete Ally and All Out petitions urging world leaders to speak out against Russia's anti-gay laws. The IOC should urge Russia to repeal their anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Olympic Games rather than simply suspending the laws during the games. No one should be satisfied until these dangerous laws are repealed and all Russians are treated with dignity under the law."

Read the statements HERE.


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