By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com September 05 2013 10:54 AM ET
Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis, who is likely headed for a spot on her Olympic team this winter, says she is "proud to be gay."
Bucsis, 24, told the Globe and Mail newspaper that she came out two years ago to family and friends, but felt compelled to speak publicly as tensions rise over Russia's so-called gay propaganda law.
“I could never promote that message of concealing who you are with all of this going on in Russia. I’m kind of happy that I did it on my own terms,” the long-track speed skater said.
Bucsis, who competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games, grew up in Calgary, the site of the 1988 winter Olympic games. She said growing up in the wake of the Calgary Olympics inspired her, spurring her parents to get her to begin speed skating. Being closeted and not knowing any other speed skaters affected her performance in 2010, where she competed in the 500-meter event. She came out with the support of teammate Kaylin Irvine and now looks to Sochi, Russia's Olympic games. Now she's on the Canadian national team and has set a personal record this year.
"I…have faith in Russia," she said. "I think — I hope — that things will get better.
Bucsis joins a growing group of gay athletes as the world begins the Olympic trial process. American figure skater Johnny Weir, New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, and Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff are among the higher-profile openly gay athletes preparing to compete for a spot on their respective teams.