Gold medal winning Olympic diver Greg Louganis is speaking out again, urging all athletes attending the 2014 Winter Games to offer a personal protest by dedicating their performance to gay friends and family. Louganis spoke at an event today sponsored by the House LGBT Equality Caucus hosted by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Human Rights First.
Louganis, winner of four Gold and one Silver Olympic medals, has been very active as an LGBT activist. He says he does not believe that boycotting the Games in Sochi, Russia, will be as effective and is concerned it will “hurt the wrong people,” USA Today reports. “Louganis, who is openly gay, said gay children are born in Russia every day. ‘Every child needs to be protected,’ he said.”
Human Rights First urged the Obama administration last month to include prominent LGBT people in the official U.S. delegation to Sochi. Louganis said he is open to going, if selected.
“If it would be helpful, I would be there in a heartbeat,” he told USA TODAY Sports after the briefing. “If I would be a distraction, that’s my concern. I don’t want to be a distraction. But if there’s any way I can be of benefit, focusing a light on injustice, then I’ll be there. I just heard today that my name is in the mix for potentially going. I was like, really? I’m a Summer Olympian. But I think I am pretty level-headed. I have not heard from anyone officially, so it was news to me.”
Louganis said as he understands the law, Olympic athletes in Sochi could potentially be in trouble for wearing rainbow pins in support of the LGBT movement. That, he said, is why he thinks athletes should publicly thank gay friends and relatives who have supported them in their road to the Olympics.
“I don’t see how the IOC can say anything about that, because it’s personal, not political,” Louganis said. “If you have a supportive aunt, uncle, cousin, friend who is gay, you don’t win a gold medal by yourself. There is a team of people behind you. And to recognize those people is a way athletes can show their support of the LGBT community and what’s going on in Russia.”
Human Rights First notes that in “recent months, Russia’s anti-’propaganda’ laws and the threat of new legislation targeting families headed by LGBT people have created a climate of fear for sexual minorities and a permissive environment for violence against them.”
That’s Greg Louganis at a panel talking about LGBT rights and the Sochi Olympics. pic.twitter.com/xwYJkmCnXB
— Patricia Zengerle (@ReutersZengerle) December 13, 2013
Image, top, by Greg Louganis via his Facebook page
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