By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com August 10 2012 12:53 PM ET
Megan Rapinoe says she's been playing better since she came out. So much so, that she helped the U.S. Women's soccer team win a gold medal Thursday in the final game against Japan. South African archer Karen Hultzer is the latest to join the official Outsports.com count of openly gay athletes, which has reached 23 as the games wrap up this weekend. And Matthew Mitcham, the openly gay 2008 Olympic gold medalist in diving, will defend his title on Saturday.
While efforts have been made to ensure that gay athletes competing at the Olympic games in London this summer feel welcome and safe, the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia may prove difficult to provide the same conditions, the Associated Press reports.
Pride House, a gay-targeted spot for LGBT athletes and allies during the games, was a welcome part of the Olympic village in London and previously in Vancouver. However, a Russian court ruled in favor of officials who decided that Pride House would not be a sanctioned part of the 2014 games in Sochi.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and several others protested outside of the Sochi Park pavillion at the London games in protest of the decision.
"Quite clearly, this ban is in violation of the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees equality,'' Tatchell said. He said the International Olympic Committee ''doesn't appear to want to engage with this issue." The IOC said in a statement that it would not comment on the court ruling since it is a private matter, but that athletes of all sexual orientations are welcome at the games.