Showing posts with label Olympics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympics. Show all posts

August 15, 2016

Women’s Olympic Basketball Players Hope for More Acceptance in NBA


 Less than a week after the subtle revelation that WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donneis gay  -- the third paragraph of an Aug. 4 story in Vogue magazine that didn’t even mention the news in the headline -- the story had all but died.
There were no follow-ups about how her Chicago Sky teammates might handle the situation when the Rio Olympics end or what it might mean for the LGBT community. This is nothing new in women’s basketball, where coming out is common and acceptance widespread.
Jason Collins becoming the first active NBA player to come out more than three years ago – and the only one since – this was not.
So after answering a few questions from reporters at the start of the Games, Delle Donne went back to the challenge of winning a gold medal with the Americans in her inaugural trip to the Games.
“It’s been normal,” Delle Donne said this week. “Nothing crazy. Obviously a couple of people wanting to talk about it here and there. A lot of support. It’s been really nothing too crazy, which is great. That’s where I hope our society moves to, where it’s not a story. It’s normal.
“I would love to see that (sort of support in the NBA), if there are any (gay men). No one should have to hide who they are.”
Yet as it stands, it appears they still do.

  • United States

  • China

  • Great Britain

  • While the NBA is progressive on this front – reconfirmed recently when it decided to move the All Star game out of Charlotte because of a North Carolina law that eliminated some protections for the LGBT community – the fact remains that no player since Collins has felt comfortable enough to come out. And that, as their female counterparts see it, is something that needs to change not only in basketball but men’s sports across the board.
    “I would love to see more (come out) on the men’s side, more players feel comfortable to come out,” said Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, the former No. 1 pick who came out in an April 2013 Sports Illustrated article that was met with similar shrugs. “But I also understand it because as a player, I’ve been that person where it’s really hard to come out. It’s super hard. You’re just not comfortable with it. You’re worried about not being accepted, being rejected, being cast out. It’s tough. It’s really tough.”
    While projections vary greatly on the percentage of gay men in the population worldwide, the odds are that there are somewhere between a handful and at least a few dozen gay NBA players among the 450 total. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated in recent years that approximately 2% of American men are gay, but 10% has long since become the unofficial standard estimate. In between, a 2012 Gallup poll indicated that 3.3% of more-than-1,200 subjects interviewed said they identified as gay, bi-sexual or transgender. As Charles Barkley put it in a May 2013 interview, “Everybody (in the NBA) has played with a gay teammate.”
    Yet it seems as if Collins (who retired 18 months after coming out) and former Utah Jazz player John Amaechi (who came out long after retirement) were the only ones to fit the description since the league’s inception in 1946. Meanwhile, there are four openly gay players on the women’s basketball Olympic team alone: Delle Donne, Griner, Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx, and Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream.

    , USA TODAY Sports

    May 28, 2015

    Kazakhstan Brakes on Anti gay Legislation so it can get the Olympics


    ASTANA -- Kazakhstan has put the brakes on proposed antigay legislation that threatened to derail its dream of hosting the Winter Olympics. 
    The bill, which mirrored Russia's controversial law banning so-called gay propaganda and had already passed both houses of the Kazakh parliament, was recently shot down by a panel vetting the legislation's constitutionality.
    The Constitutional Council announced on May 26 that it rejected the bill last week on the grounds that it contained "vague and ambiguous definitions and terms."
    The rare rejection left it unclear whether the bill is effectively dead, could be sent back to parliament for revision, or revived after the fact, providing Kazakhstan is chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
    When the bill was first proposed in August by the lower house of parliament, or Mazhilis, it was sold as a means of protecting children by banning the dissemination of "propaganda of homosexuality among minors." After clearing the Mazhilis, it was approved by the upper house in February.
    The proposal attracted negative attention just as Kazakhstan was trying to generate excitement over Almaty's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Almaty.
    The same day that the constitutional ruling was announced, Kazakhstan reportedly attracted millions to the streets of major cities to celebrate Olympics Day, sponsored by the state in order to support Almaty 2022. Beijing, China -- widely considered to be the favorite to win the bid -- is the only other potential host left in the running.
    International human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned the bill.
    Earlier this month, a group of former Olympic, Paralympic, and professional athletes sent a letter to International Olympic Committee(IOC) President Thomas Bach expressing their concerns.
    The letter campaign was organized by Athlete Ally, a group that fights for gay athletes' rights. Diver Greg Louganis, tennis player Martina Navratilova, hockey player Sean Avery, soccer players Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers and other prominent athletes signed the letter.
    "In light of Kazakhstan’s aspirations to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and their recent consideration of legislation prohibiting 'propaganda of nontraditional sexual orientation,' we urge the IOC to reiterate to Kazakh authorities that discrimination with regard to sexual orientation is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement," the letter said.
    According to the May 26 announcement, the Constitutional Committee rejected the bill on May 18, just days after the athletes' letter was sent.
    Although Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics decriminalized homosexuality in the early 1990s, hostility against gays and lesbians remains rife there and across other post-Soviet states.
    Russia's law banning so-called gay propaganda was adopted in 2013, putting the legislation in the spotlight when the country hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. 
    The Kyrgyz parliament is currently considering similar legislation.
    The IOC is expected to announce the winning bidder for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.
    Radio Free Europe

    November 29, 2014

    2015 Pa Am Games Are Promised to be Gay Friendly for both Athletes and Fans

    This is a post from The Canadian Press
    During the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, Pridehouse Toronto wants to encourage the LGBTQ community to participate fully in the event.
    During the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, Pridehouse Toronto wants to encourage the LGBTQ community to participate fully in the event.
    Olympic gymnast Kris Burley remained in the closet throughout his career.
    The international sporting environment was too hostile a place for a gay athlete.
    “From my perspective, to be the best athlete that you can be, and to reach your objectives, you have to be able to be yourself,” Burley said. “And my personal experience is . . . it wasn’t a comfortable and open environment for me. And it was really challenging. And I know that’s shared by a lot of athletes that have similar stories.”
    When Toronto hosts the Pan American Games next summer, Burley said it will mark the first time the organizing committee has worked in partnership with the local gay community.
    “That sends a real message I think, a real leadership message to set a higher standard for inclusion,” Burley said.
    The Truro, N.S., native was the emcee for Friday’s announcement by PrideHouse Toronto of what it has planned for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
    Those plans include a “celebration zone” in the city’s Church-Wellesley Village, with family activities such as pick-up sports games.
    The 519 Church Street Community Centre will be turned into a Pan Am pavilion, with “a safe space for people to watch the Games as well as celebrate athletes and inclusion in sports,” said PrideHouse spokesperson Ryan Tollofson.
    There will be a PrideHouse presence at other Games sites, with 16 ambassadors from across Ontario, who have been trained to be able to address questions about the importance of inclusion in sport.
    There has never been a PrideHouse at a Pan Am Games, Tollofson said. In fact, 11 Pan American countries still criminalize LGBTQ activity.
    “We want to set an example for what inclusion in sport can be,” Tollofson said. “We’re very fortunate in Canada to have a country where we have a lot of rights and protections as gay folks, as LGBTQ people, and so we want to be able to demonstrate that to the world. The main goal of PrideHouse is to make the Pan Am Games the most inclusive multi-sport Games in history.”
    Burley competed for Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and then the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, retiring that same year.
    The former gymnast said that while Canada is an international leader in LGBTQ rights, sports still remains behind other areas of society in terms of inclusion.
    “You can see that from all the media (attention) that comes from every athlete that comes out, beginning with (NBA player) Jason Collins right through to Michael Sam (the first publicly gay athlete to be drafted into the NFL) and some of the other athletes,” Burley said.
    He explained that Toronto’s PrideHouse for the Pan Am Games isn’t about a “bricks-and-mortar building where people say, ‘OK, that’s where the gays are going to participate in the Games.’ ”
    It’s also about including Toronto communities, as well as encouraging the LGBTQ community to participate fully in the Games.
    “We’re not quite there yet in sport, I think we’re a little bit behind,” Burley said. “But this is a good step in the right direction, and it sets a good precedent and I’m hoping that future organizing committees with all adopt the same thing, and it will just be standard that the LGBTQ component and diversity in general gets incorporated as part of every Games going forward.”
    The Pan Am Games are July 10-26, while the Parapan Am Games are Aug. 7-15.
    By: Lori Ewing The Canadian Press,

    November 19, 2014

    IOC Comes Out Against Discrimination! Where Did They have their Heads Stuck In?

    If the IOC Charter had been amended a few years ago, could Russia have been denied the right to host the 2014 Winter Games?
    Photo by Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images
    A few hours ago, I saw some news that literally made me jump for joy: At long last the International Olympic Committee will change the wording of the Olympic Charter to include protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
    This development was part of 40 recommendations published today ahead of next month’s IOC meeting in Monaco, where IOC President Thomas Bach’s “Agenda 2020” process will conclude with significant changes to the bidding process for and organization of the Olympic Games.
    The change in language is significant. More than four years ago, I was part of the first formal attempt to demand these reforms. The Federation of Gay Games’ “Principle 5 Campaign” (since then, nondiscrimination has been renumbered as Principle 6) called for sexual orientation and gender identity to be made explicit as criteria protected from discrimination in sport. This call was taken up by Pride House International, particularly during the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games.
    The new language will say: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
    A few weeks ago, when much ado was made about a proposed change in the Olympic host city contract, I expressed great skepticism. The language in question had already been part of past contracts, and any reference to the nondiscrimination clause that didn’t explicitly include sexual orientation was of little interest to gay and lesbian athletes.
    Since then, more meat has been put on those bones, with news that the host city contract would also at last protect human rights (in theory, at least). Soon, at last, the language of Principle 6 will make explicit the protection for gay and lesbian athletes that former IOC President Jacques Rogge and current boss Bach claimed were already there implicitly.
    Now comes a lot of hard work for the IOC: How will respect for human rights be monitored and measured? How will the contractual commitments be enforced? Without monitoring, measuring, and enforcement, these commitments are not worth much. Indeed, they may provide cover for the IOC (and its sponsors) while affording no meaningful protection for athletes.
    How will the dozens of international sports federations and the nearly 200 national Olympic committees apply the new language of the Olympic Charter? The IOC claims to govern all of world sport, not just the Olympic movement. Besides, discrimination can still take place upstream from the Olympics. An athlete in prison (or who has been executed) for homosexuality is not in a good place to take part in qualifying trials.
      And so, although I’m very pleased right now, I remain skeptical that governing bodies are truly interested in ensuring that sport is for all. Last week I was a guest at an international conference that brought together the rights holders of major sporting events and local authorities interested in hosting them. The talk given by the Federation of Gay Games and the Paris 2018 Gay Games host committee was very well received, and the people we met there were keen to talk about the Gay Games and other LGBTQ sports events. But other speakers told the delegates that Europe could no longer host major events—there’s no money, no public support, and widespread disillusionment with ethically dubious right holders like FIFA, we heard. And then there was the fellow who praised the efforts of homophobic, sexist, racist Qatar, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi to become players in world sport. When finally questioned as to the compatibility of these country’s discriminatory regimes with international sport events, he replied that great progress had been made regarding women’s participation in sport, “because the emirs all have daughters, and their daughters want to do sport.” Perhaps one day an emir will have a gay or lesbian child, and homosexual athletes will be welcome. In the meantime, gays face exclusion from events such at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where the sports minister has refused to state whether homosexuals will be admitted to the country.
    But even this skeptic is willing to salute Thomas Bach for making a reality of the change he hinted at in Paris one year ago, when for the first time an IOC president met with LGBTQ sports groups. Whereas hopes for change in the Catholic Church were smashed when the draft document of the recent synod was finalized, we can be pretty sure that the 40 recommendations for Agenda 2020 will be approved in Monaco. After that? The ball is in the IOC’s court. 

    February 19, 2014

    Italian Ex-MP Arrested at Sochi for Gay Rights Protest

    A gay former Italian MP has told reporters she was arrested and detained by Russian police for staging a gay rights protest at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Vladimir Luxuria said she was approached by two men in plain clothes in the Olympic Park as she held up a banner with the words “Gay is OK” written on it in Russian.
    She said was arrested on Sunday night, and not released until the early hours of Monday. Though officers treated her with respect during her detention, she said she was told she was not allowed to display pro-gay slogans in public.

    Speaking after appearing on stage at a gay cabaret bar in Sochi, Ms Luxuria said: “I think it is important (to have) the opportunity to talk internationally about these things because otherwise these things happen in Russia and nobody knows, nobody cares.

    “They think: 'Well, it's not in our country, it's far away, it's in Russia, who cares?'”
    Games organizers said today that officers had no record of Ms Luxuria's detention, and a duty officer at Sochi's central police station told a reporter with the Associated Press that they had  “never had an Italian national in custody”.

    Sochi organizing committee spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said: “We've talked to police and they have told us there is no record whatsoever to any detention or arrest.”
    Ms Luxuria said she had been protesting against a law signed by President Vladimir Putin last year banning the spread of “gay propaganda” among minors. Critics say it discriminates against gays and that it has fueled violence against homosexuals.

    Reports in Russia suggested that arrests at unauthorised rallies are common, and that officers are regularly so swamped with paperwork that they will detain and then release those seen as minor offenders without registering the incident.
    Ms Luxuria, 48, was the first openly transgender member of any European parliament when she was elected as an Italian MP in 2006.
    She is a prominent defender of gay rights, and said that she would be back out to keep making her voice heard later on Monday.

    She told Reuters: “I tell you, if ... I don't have the opportunity to have a flag with 'It's OK to be gay' written on it I will shout it,” she said. “I know how to say it in Russian.”.
    International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said: “We hope that the Games will not be used as a platform for demonstrations.”

    February 6, 2014

    Depending How the Athletes Handle the Olympics at Sochi it Could Be a Stonewall



    When the Sochi Olympics begin later this week, it will provide an international platform for 
    what promises to be both a controversial and politically charged conversation, but one having very little to do with the actual sports being played. Athletes may have tirelessly trained. Countries may have vigorously vied to host the games. And all eyes may be on Russia as the opening ceremony unfolds on Thursday, but the Achilles heel to these games isn’t whether or not the U.S. will be tough enough to take home the gold this year, but how LGBT rights will fare in a country that has been anything but gay-friendly.

    As much as we may like to embrace the notion of good sportsmanship even in the most t
    umultuous of times, truth is Russia’s crackdown on gay people (everything from same-sex partnerships to adoption, though technically it’s not “illegal” to be openly gay there) has already set off a firestorm of protests that are not expected to go away anytime soon, especially as the world’s gaze is set on Sochi
    In fact, this year’s games, for as much as they are about sports and international camaraderie, also speak to what we have come expect from a world-class event. The question of whether Russia should even be hosting the games is a little too late to ask, but depending on how athletes and LGBT rights organizations handle this already sticky situation (will protests be permitted or will gay athletes be shunned – jailed even?), Sochi could easily become the Olympics’ answer to Stonewall.

    January 10, 2014

    Brian Boltano was Not Planning to Come out..It just Came Out


    Brian Boitano never intended to publicly reveal he is gay until he was chosen for the U.S. Olympic delegation by President Barack Obama last month.
    Calling himself "a private guy," Boitano told The Associated Press on Thursday that he never planned to come out. But moments before his presence on the delegation was revealed, Boitano realized what a powerful statement the president was making.
    Obama chose openly gay athletes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow for the delegation, as well. Boitano said his decision to say "being gay is just one part of who I am" in a statement on Dec. 19 "literally came to fruition" moments before the White House announced the makeup of the delegation.
    "I don't feel that I can represent the country without revealing this incredible side of myself," Boitano said. "This is an important moment, and to represent my country in Russia, it's a platform that is so important for me."
    The 1988 Olympic gold medalist hopes other countries will make similar endorsements of an open way of life by who represents them at Sochi. He's proud of Obama's stance.
    "Our nation is at the forefront of trying to create a more tolerant public," he said. “The president is kind of saying to Russia that as a strong country, we believe in this and if you don't follow along, we will leave you behind in this thought process." Russia has come under heavy criticism for passing national laws banning "gay propaganda," and there were even suggestions for the United States to boycott the Sochi Games as a protest. But Obama rejected that idea, saying with "gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze," a stronger statement would be made.
    Boitano was in Courchevel, France, when Obama announced the delegation, which also includes former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, deputy Secretary of State William Burns and presidential adviser Rob Nabors.
    "I feel great about the delegation and being part of the movement," Boitano said. "It's important personally to feel I am representing the country and the president's message."
    Moments after he released his statement in December, Boitano began receiving words of support from the figure skating community, including Olympic champions Dick Button and Carol Heiss Jenkins.
    "That feedback for me is really important, especially coming from my peers," he said. "They know how private a person I am and that this was a big move for me."

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