Meet The LGBT Allies Headed to Sochi

There aren't a ton of out LGBT athletes heading to Sochi (far from it), but many allies have made their displeasure with Russia's antigay laws heard.

BY Michelle Garcia

February 06 2014 9:00 AM ET

Bode Miller, skiing, USA
Miller is one of the best skiers to represent the United States in the Olympics, and he said in October that Russia's law is "embarrassing," "hypocritical, and unfair." He added, "I think it is absolutely embarrassing there are countries and people who are that intolerant or that ignorant," according to the Chicago Tribune. "It’s not the first time. We have been dealing with human rights issues since there were humans. My main emotion when I hear and deal with situations like that is embarrassment. As a human being, I think it is embarrassing."

 

Shaun White, snowboarding, USA
The snowboarding star told Yahoo! News Australia that he felt sympathetic for LGBT athletes who might not feel safe being out during the games. “It's a tough scenario," he said. "You get these athletes that are just as competitive and they’re living their lives and they’re pouring every single thing into this competition. And just that added pressure of being alienated, I'm just not a big fan of that. It's not like it's up to me to change the rules or anything, but I just feel for them on that front."

 

Ashley Wagner, figure skating, USA
While most in the figure skating world have stayed quiet about the law in Russia, Ashley Wagner says she feels uncomfortable not talking about it. "It's an issue I feel so strongly about just because my life is really surrounded by the LGBT community," Wagner said. "I've talked to so many athletes who agree with what I've said and who think it's a horrible thing for the LGBT community in Russia."

 

Chris Grover, cross-country skiing, USA
Grover, the team leader for U.S. Skiing, says that the LGBT propaganda ban has been a major topic of conversation among skiers this year. “We are encouraging the athletes to express themselves concerning these recent events as their conscience dictates," he told FasterSkier.com. "As an organization and a team, we do not tolerate discrimination in any form and we value diversity.”

Alex Duckworth, snowboarding, Canada
Duckworth was one of the several dozen athletes who signed a letter urging the International Olympic Committee to ensure that LGBT athletes and spectators will be protected from discrimination at the games by updating Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.

 

Dustin Brown, hockey, USA
Brown, who plays for the Los Angeles Kings, is one of the members of the You Can Play project encouraging open LGBT participation in sports.

 

Steven Stamkos, hockey, Canada
Stamkos, who plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning, is also a member of the You Can Play project.

 

Corey Perry, hockey, Canada
Perry, who plays for the Anaheim Ducks, is a member of the You Can Play project, as well.

Felix Neureuther, slalom skiing, German
Right after clinching his Olympic spot, Neureuther told reporters that he was concerned about Russia's human rights problems, and joked that he would pretend he's gay as a form of protest while in Sochi. "It is not right that the Games should go to the places with the most money," he said last month. "The priority should go to the sport and to the emotion spectators feel when they attend the Olympic games. To have the Olympics in Sochi or Pyeongchang or the soccer World Cup in Qatar is not good for sport. They should definitely go in other directions in the future."

 


Brooks Orpik, hockey, USA
Orpick is an ally through the You Can Play project, and was among the first NHL players to join the project.

 

Hannah Teter, snowboarding, USA
“I think that’s crazy,” she said about Russia's law, according to Time. "I think we should we be way beyond that whole thing going down there. I mean, it seems very inhumane to me, in a way. And to support Russia by going to the Olympics is kind of hard because of their views on that subject. So I mean, I think almost in a way, it should be boycotted. To show an example, like, we aren’t going to support, you know, going to the biggest event in the world if you’re going to have these laws in place when we get there, that are totally wrong. I mean, it would be hard to organize something like that so late, but if somebody did I would definitely be a part of it.”

 

Duncan Keith, hockey, Canada
Keith, who plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, is one of the members of the You Can Play project. After his team won the Stanley Cup in 2010, they marched with the trophy alongside the Chicago Gay Hockey Association in Chicago's annual LGBT pride parade.

Sidney Crosby, hockey, Canada
Crosby, one of the NHL's top players, told reporters that he did not support Russia's law. "For me growing up in Canada, my view has always been that way," Crosby said during a news conference to kick off Canada's Olympic camp, according to ESPN. "I think that everyone has an equal right to play and I think we've been supportive of that. With the Olympics and the controversy around that I think those decisions and those laws aren't necessarily something that I agree with personally... their laws and their views."

 

James van Riemsdyk, hockey, USA
Van Riemsdyk, who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, is one of the members of the You Can Play project.

 

Simona Meiler, snowboarding, Switzerland
Meiler was one of the several dozen athletes who signed a letter urging the IOC to ensure that LGBT athletes and spectators will be protected from discrimination at the games by updating Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to include nondiscrimination guarantees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Mike Janyk, alpine skiing, Canada
In September, Janyk joined Athlete Ally as an ambassador, specifically pushing for inclusion and equal treatment during the Winter Games. "I've had the fortune and freedom to pursue my dreams in sport and have seen first-hand how it brings people from around the world together in the pursuit of love, happiness and excellence,” said Janyk. “If I may enjoy this freedom so should every other human being, with whom I would proudly stand with on any field of play.”

Kikkan Randall, cross-country ski, USA
Randall said boycotting the games would not have been a good idea, but told FasterSkier.com that she does not support Russia's laws or the ideals behind them. “With several family members in the LGBT community, this issue is particularly important to me as I am concerned about their safety to attend the Games to watch me compete. I feel strongly that discrimination of any kind does not belong in sport. I have always thought of the Olympics as an arena and event where politics have no place. Therefore, I am saddened and disappointed that Russia, a host of the upcoming Olympic Games, is bringing their politics into the spotlight [and that they are being allowed to] by threatening to impress their political views on the participants and spectators of the Games.”



Carey Price, hockey, Canada
Price, who plays for the Montreal Canadiens, is a member of the You Can Play project.

 

Rick Nash, hockey, Canada
Nash, who plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is also a member of the You Can Play project.


 

Rosanna Crawford, biathlon, Canada
Crawford was one of the several dozen athletes who signed a letter urging the IOC to ensure that LGBT athletes and spectators will be protected from discrimination at the games by updating Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.

Andy Newell, cross-country ski, USA
While Newell stressed that the Olympics should be focused on sports, he did express support for LGBT athletes at the games. “My teammates and I completely support all Olympic competitors, gay or straight," he told FasterSkier.com. "Having been a born and raised Vermonter, I’m also proud of some of the progress the U.S. has made in equal rights over the years.”

 

Shea Weber, hockey, Canada
A supporter of LGBT athletes through his involvement with the You Can Play project, Weber condemned Russia's antigay law along with Team Canada teammate Sidney Crosby. "Obviously, the [NHL Player Association] and myself are trying to support that cause," Weber said. "Like Sidney said, the way we're brought up is different than how the Russians view it. We're going over there to play hockey and obviously that's what we're going to try and focus on."

 

Seth Wescott, snowboarding, USA
Westcott, one of the most successful Olympic snowboarders, said the IOC should not have chosen Sochi to host the games. "The human rights stuff that's going on, there's a potential for it to be an incredibly negatively overshadowed Olympics," he told the Associated Press. He added that he was also offended by the law, as some of his closest friends in snowboarding are lesbians. "They're wonderful human beings, and I think for them to be discriminated against is a crime," he said. "They should be able to be who they are and compete proudly. They represent our country incredibly well and they don't need to be the object of that kind of criticism and negativity."

 

Elana Meyers, bobsledding, USA
When asked about Russia's antigay law, standout bobsledding veteran Elana Meyers urged her own home country to remember it has a long way to go on LGBT rights. "I love this country. I love being a citizen. I believe we are the greatest country in the world. But we do have a lot of problems with [the lack of rights for] our gay and lesbian community and transgender community," Meyers said. "There are a third of the states in this country that don't have laws against discrimination of the gay and transgender athletes, or gay and transgender people in general. There are still states in this country where they can't get married.... I think as a country we really need to focus on where we stand on gay, lesbian and transgender issues, and then whatever Russia decides to do is an afterthought. But we really need to focus on where we stand on those issues."

Ryan Kesler, hockey, USA
Kesler, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, is one of the members of the You Can Play project.

 

Full Australian Bobsled Team, Australia
Each of the bobsleds that the Australian team uses will sport an emblem showing support for the Principle 6 campaign, which urges the IOC to update its nondiscrimination clause to specifically protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. “We don’t just believe that on principle — some of our most loyal supporters have been gay,” Heath Spence, captain of the Australian Men’s bobsled team, told BuzzFeed. “They’ve supported us, so it would be hypocritical of us not to support them. All of us bobsledders are the biggest, the strongest, the fastest athletes in the Winter Olympics. And there’s two or four of us jammed into a sled. If we can support gay rights, why can’t everybody else? We’re proud to have the Principle 6 badge on our sleds.”

 

Kleintje Pils, brass band, Netherlands
The Dutch brass band that plays for the Netherlands' Olympic team during speed skating competitions says they are planning to play the Village People's "YMCA" while in Sochi. Band leader Ruud Bakker told the Associated Press that it would be a "signal" to the Russian government.

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