WATCH: To State Department, 'We Are All Athletes'

By Kevin OKeeffe

Originally published on Advocate.com January 31 2014 4:08 PM ET

Ahead of next week's opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the U.S. State Department today released a video supporting equality among athletes.

Titled "We Are All Athletes," the one-minute clip presents a variety of winter sport competitors from Team USA and other teams around the country, both in and out of uniform, declaring their unity as athletes. But in at least one small segment, there appears to be a shout-out to the LGBT athletic community.

"We don't let people tell us who we are," says Christopher Brand, a member of the New York City Gay Hockey Association, halfway through the video. As he walks away with his arm around another male athlete, Brand adds, "or who we should be."

The statement could be a veiled reference to the participation of LGBT athletes in the Winter Games, as the State Department's press release announcing the video notes that it "showcases U.S. Olympians, Paralympians, and recreational athletes of various backgrounds, including gender, race and ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and abilities." [Emphasis added].

The allusion could also be a non-overt response to the controversy around Russia's ban on so-called gay propaganda to minors that prompted the State Department to warn LGBT travelers to mind their safety in Sochi next month. 

In response to The Advocate's request for clarification about the intent of including the seemingly pro-LGBT statement, a State Department official said, "The quote in question is a reference to American athletes in general having the freedom to choose their own paths in life and in sports which could include supporting LGBT athletes, teammates, and the LGBT community at large."   

Regardless, the video makes sure it is inclusive of all kinds. "Our lives may differ, but we are all dreamers, competitors, champions, teammates — we are all athletes," the participants in the video say.

Watch the video below.