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Retired German soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger comes out

Thomas Kitzlsperger, soccer, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

Thomas Kitzlsperger (Photo by Egghead06; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Recently retired soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger has become the first German footballer to come out as gay.

“I am expressing my homosexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes,” he told the German newspaper Die Zeit that published excerpts of the interview on its website on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reported the 31-year-old midfielder played 52 games for Germany between 2004-2011 that included an appearance in the 2006 World Cup. Hitzlsperger also played for the English Premier League teams West Ham and Everton, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga and the Italian soccer team Lazio.

Injuries forced the midfielder to retire last September.

“Homosexuality is not an issue in England, Germany or Italy, at least in the locker room,” Hitzlsperger told Die Zeit.

Hitzlsperger said he takes issue with stereotypes associated with gays.

The retired midfielder told Die Zeit while he has never been “ashamed” of who he is, he has struggled to cope with some of his teammates’ homophobic remarks.

“Think about it: There are 20 young men sitting around a table and drinking,” Hitzlsperger told Die Zeit. “You let the majority of it go, as long as the jokes are reasonably funny and the garbage about homosexuals is not massively offensive.”

Several of Hitzlsperger’s former teammates applauded him for coming out.

“Brave and right decision,” tweeted German forward Lukas Podolski. “His outing is an important sign in our time.”

Former England captain Gary Lineker on Twitter congratulated Hitzlsperger for “bravely being the first player to have played in the [English Premier League] to ‘come out.’” Former NBA center John Amaechi also applauded the retired German midfielder.

“It’s certainly too bad that he didn’t come out last year while he was still with Everton, but his coming out now is still another step,” wrote Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com, an LGBT sports website, after Die Zeit published excerpts of its interview with Hitzlsperger. “European soccer has long been the most homophobic corner of the Western sports world. It makes the NFL look like a local GLAAD chapter.”

Hitzlsperger came out nearly a year after Robbie Rogers of the Los Angeles Galaxy publicly declared his homosexuality.

Swedish footballer Anton Hysen came out as gay in 2011.

09
Jan
2014

Road to the Gay Games

Lindsey Warren-Shriner, DCAC, District of Columbia Aquatics Club, gay news, Washington Blade, gay games

Lindsey Warren-Shriner says the daily routine of swimming has been a good discipline for her. (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

This week in the continuing series on the LGBT athletes of Washington who will be competing at the 2014 Cleveland/Akron Gay Games, we visit with swimmer Lindsey Warren-Shriner of the District of Columbia Aquatics Club.

Warren-Shriner was recently awarded the Rick Meier Windes Memorial Award in recognition of excellence in distance swimming for her performance at the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics Championships in Seattle in 2013.

 

WASHINGTON BLADE:  What is your swimming background?

LINDSEY WARREN-SHRINER:  I took an introduction to competitive swimming class during the fall of my (high school) freshman year to fulfill my P.E. requirement and tried out for the varsity swim team that winter and didn’t make it. I took the class again during the fall of my sophomore year and made the team that winter.

That first year, I was one of the slowest swimmers and didn’t even compete with the team at championships. By my senior year, I had started to focus on distance events and dropped more than 30 seconds from my 500-yard freestyle time in one season. That led to me talking to swim coaches as I visited colleges, which was not something I would have expected even a year earlier.

I went on to swim for Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania for two years and then transferred to Bowdoin College in Maine, in part because they had a phenomenal swim program.   I have been swimming with DCAC since I graduated and moved to D.C. almost four years ago, and I have also done several triathlons and open water races.

 

BLADE:  Did you play any other sports growing up?

WARREN-SHRINER:  I did a lot — soccer, basketball, softball and tennis — and was really bad at all of them. I definitely wasn’t great when I started swimming either, but I liked it from the beginning and was more motivated to get better than I had been with any other sport.

 

BLADE: What events will you compete in at the Gay Games?

WARREN-SHRINER:  I’ll be doing all of the distance events — the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle events and the 400-meter individual medley.

 

BLADE:  What will your training regimen consist of leading up to the Gay Games?

WARREN-SHRINER:  I usually go to six or seven DCAC practices a week. I don’t really like going to the gym so I stick with swimming. We practice for an hour and a half and I usually end up swimming almost 4,000 yards a day. We also have one night a week where we have a distance-oriented workout which is good preparation for the events I swim.

 

BLADE:  What is it about swimming that keeps you in the sport?

WARREN-SHRINER: Since I started swimming competitively much later than most of my college teammates, I wasn’t ready to stop swimming when I graduated. I found a great team in DCAC that has motivated me to keep swimming in the almost four years that I have been living here. All of my closest friends in D.C. are swimmers and I love to still have the routine of going to practice every day. While I was fortunate to have had incredibly supportive teammates and coaches as an out athlete in college, being on an LGBT team and a part of that community here has definitely kept me in the sport of swimming as well.

 

BLADE: Any embarrassing swimming stories to share?

WARREN-SHRINER: At the conference championships in my junior year of college, each team had a few high-tech racing suits that got passed around for each of the swimmer’s best events. The suits were extremely tight and impossible to put on without help.

When it was time for me to put the suit on before I swam the 1,650-yard freestyle, my teammates put plastic bags around my feet to get the suit over my ankles, and four of my teammates literally pulled the suit up my legs half an inch at a time while I stood, not helping at all, in the locker room. It was completely ridiculous but I ended up having a great race!

 

BLADE: Have you been to the Gay Games? What are you most looking forward to at the Gay Games?

WARREN-SHRINER: I have never been to the Gay Games, but I have gone to two IGLA championships with DCAC. I love traveling and competing with the team and I am particularly excited for the Gay Games since it is so much bigger than IGLA. I am very excited to be competing at such a big event for LGBT athletes and representing one of the largest LGBT swim teams in the world.

26
Mar
2014

Gearing up for the Games

Kris Pritchard, gay news, Washington Blade

Kris Pritchard says he enjoys the team unity and diversity he’s found with the Washington Wetskins. (Photo courtesy Alison Marian Fraser)

Kris Pritchard, a former high school swimmer, had always been curious about the sport of water polo. After his job as a high school math teacher brought him to D.C. in 2007, he decided to check out a Washington Wetskins water polo practice.

“I had not been in a speedo since my high school swimming days and showed up to my first practice in board shorts,” says Pritchard, laughing. “Everyone else was in speedos so I ran right out and bought one.”

Now 31 and working in higher education evaluating accreditation standards for college programs, Pritchard found the Wetskins to be more than willing to teach basic water polo skills to a beginner.

When he joined the team, he was also hoping to meet other gay men outside of the bar scene and was surprised to find that the Wetskins had evolved from their days as a primarily gay team. Half the team is straight females and there are a lot of straight men.

That’s not as big of a surprise as one would think as many of the LGBT sports teams in D.C. have become a mix of gay and straight athletes. The Wetskins still have their speedos firmly planted in the LGBT community though, and this summer will send a mixed team to the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland.

“Everyone who plays on this team knows that they have to come in with an open mind because everyone thinks it is a gay team,” Pritchard says. “In 2008, we hosted the water polo portion of the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics Championships (IGLA) in D.C. and in subsequent years we competed at IGLA in Reykjavik, Iceland and Seattle, Washington. Half of our team will be straight at the Gay Games this summer.”

Pritchard, who is from Pittsburg and graduated from Ohio University, became obsessed with the sport of water polo after joining the Wetskins. Leading up to his first Gay Games, he will be training with the Wetskins two days a week and swimming with the District of Columbia Aquatics Club at least two days a week.

“One of the things that I love about water polo is the team sports aspect,” he says. “It feels great to share success as a group. I feel like the Wetskins are a representation of where society is going as a whole. Gay, straight, men, women; No one asks what you are unless they want to sleep with you. Nobody knows and nobody cares.”

Pritchard says that his teammates have become his best friends and that even outside of the pool, he sees them all the time.

“They are cool, chill people,” he says. “We spend a lot of time in the water up close and personal with hardly any clothes on. It’s a natural progression to bond outside of the pool.”

For his trip to the Gay Games in Cleveland this summer, Pritchard is looking forward to seeing the different sports and the larger scale of LGBT athletic community. He is also hoping to connect with some old college friends who are still in the area.

One thing he won’t be doing is wearing board shorts. He will be rocking a speedo, and loving it.

03
Jul
2014

Ladies on the move

Maryland Stingers, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

The Maryland Stingers. (Photo courtesy the team)

Despite a lot of changes in rugby in this part of the country, the Maryland Stingers, a local women’s team, is gearing up for a busy spring.

The Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU) was an association of youth, high school, collegiate and adult men’s and women’s rugby teams in the Mid-Atlantic United States.

In August of 2013, MARFU ceased to exist because of some reshuffling being done by USA Rugby. With approximately 6,800 players from about 180 clubs, MARFU represented the largest territorial rugby union in the United States.

MARFU was split in two and renamed the Mid-Atlantic Conference (NCR4) which now consists of two geographic unions — Capital Geographic Union and East Penn Geographic Union. The teams completed their fall 2013 season under the new designations and are still waiting on the competitive matrix schedule for the spring season.

The Stingers, a women’s Division 2-South club team, are launching their practice schedule in February in anticipation of matrix play beginning in March. The Stingers, who have a presence at Capital Pride every year, are a diverse group of lady rugby players with varying levels of skill and age.

“Because of the transient nature of the D.C. area, recruiting new players is an ongoing process,” says Taryn Michelitch of the Stingers. “In addition to former rugby players, we get a lot of crossover from lacrosse and soccer. Beginners are also always welcome.”

The Stingers’ schedule consists of spring and fall seasons played under the rugby fifteens rules and a summer season played under the rugby sevens rules.

Practices for the spring and fall seasons are held under the lights at Duvall Field in College Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Practices for the summer season are held at the Tacoma Education Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 p.m.

Dues for the team are tiered with first-year members paying a lower amount. All players must join USA Rugby to compete.

For those who have never played Rugby, the Stingers offer skills practices at the beginning of each season.

“We start the seasons out with ‘rookie practices’ consisting of non-contact skills,” Michelitch says. “An experienced player will spend concentrated time with the rookies going over skills and rules.”

In addition to league play, the Stingers compete in rugby tournaments throughout the year. In the past they’ve competed at Ruggerfest in Manassas, Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington and Cape Fear in Wilmington, N.C.

Despite their busy schedule, the lady Stingers find time to give back to the community.  Periodically during the year, they can be found doing clean-up on Duvall Field.

They have also volunteered their time in the United States Quad Rugby Association. The University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute is home to Maryland Mayhem, a collision (wheelchair rugby) team.

Look for the Stingers to start bi-weekly practices in February for the spring season.

“Our roster of players usually ranges from 20 to 30 players,” Michelitch says. “We have a core group of women who play consistently from year to year which is why the team has remained active since the early 1980s.”

14
Jan
2014

Batter up

Gay Games, Glenn Conklin, CAPS, gay news, Washington Blade

Glenn Conklin, first at left standing, with his CAPS teammates during last summer’s North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance Softball World Series in Washington. (Photo courtesy Conklin)

Growing up, Glenn Conklin was much more passionate about tennis than he was softball. Though he would tag along to practices and warm up with his younger sister, who was quite serious about the game, tennis was his main sport.

But times have changed. Though he eventually ended up competing in major junior tennis tournaments and attended the University of South Carolina on a Division I tennis scholarship, softball is now the sport Conklin is most invested in. In August he’ll travel to the Gay Games in Cleveland with the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League (CAPS), the league of which he’s enjoying his third season currently.

“I have become addicted to playing softball because of my teammates and the great friends I have made along the way,” the 35-year-old Warwick, N.Y., says. “Softball is wonderful because everything I do on the field is a shared experience with 15 or so other guys. We triumph together and we fall together. I have a great appreciation for the skill and talent it takes to play the sport and I keep coming back because I know the more I play, the better I will get. I have a great deal of room to get better.”

Conklin, by day a Human Capital Strategist for Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spends a lot of his free time playing softball. The CAPS, which came in ninth out of 50 teams in its division at the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance Gay Softball World Series held in Washington last summer, also have a travel team the Conklin co-formed with CAPS Commissioner Ed Vincent. Last year, members played tournaments in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Columbis, Ohio. This year, they’ll be in Philadelphia for Memorial Day weekend and in the Bourbon Street Classic in New Orleans in December, in addition to the Gay Games.

This will be Conklin’s first time at the Gay Games. He’s looking forward to what he hopes will be a “loud and proud contingent of (D.C.) athletes to represent our area.”

To prepare, he’s focusing on playing as much as possible in the months ahead, building up game speed and regular trips to the batting cages to work on hitting.

“Stamina and endurance are everything in a tournament that spans multiple days where you may need to play 10-15 games in the span of five days, so I will take cardio and endurance training more seriously this summer to make certain I am ready to play whenever I am needed,” Conklin says.

He also, of course, hopes to stay free of injury as well.

“I do seem to be more prone to injury than others,” he says. “One time as I was sprinting through first base, I clipped the first baseman’s leg, flew forward in a mid-air roll, banged my head on a rock and knocked myself unconscious. Who says softball is a non-contact sport?”

And as with any athlete going to a major tournament, he has envisioned what it would feel like to stand on the podium at Firestone Atadium in Akron, Ohio, hearing the National Anthem and winning a gold medal.

“I am looking forward to giving it 100 percent at the softball diamond and being a leader for my team,” he says. “I expect the competition to be focused and intense, but friendly. I am looking forward to spending time with my teammates and sharing this experience with them, and I am looking forward to making new friends from all over the globe.”

08
Apr
2014

Ready to roll

Jeremy Glasser, gay news, Washington Blade

Jeremy Glasser with the Gold Medal he won at the last Gay Games in 2010. He brought it and his bowling pin for a quick photo shoot this week at Night Out at the Kastles. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

When Jeremy Glasser went to his first Gay Games in Sydney, Australia in 2002, he competed in both bowling and tennis. Considering both sports run the entire week of the Games, it was a lofty undertaking. Added to that challenge was the issue of dragging his bowling ball and tennis racket half way around the world.

Next month, Glasser will compete in his third Gay Games in Cleveland, his first on American soil, and will limit himself to one sport.

“For Cleveland, I chose to compete in bowling because I can just throw my bowling ball in the trunk of my car and drive there,” Glasser says. “For Paris in 2018, I will probably choose tennis since it will be easier to transport my racket.”

Another reason for choosing bowling in Cleveland is that he wants to defend his gold medal in team bowling that was won in the 2010 Cologne Gay Games.

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Glasser played the obligatory little kids sports such as T-ball and soccer. In junior high, he coached volleyball but most of his focus was on academics.

After moving to Washington, where he works as a paralegal and is an alumni of George Mason University, Glasser and his partner at the time were looking for something to do outside of the bar scene. They joined an LBGT bowling league in 1996 and Glasser has continued to bowl with the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association (CARA).

The bowling led to a season with the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League and then the Capital Tennis Association. Glasser is currently a member of both CARA and the Association.

“I bowl in a CARA league during the winters and play on the CTA league in the summers,” he says. “Bowling is my social outlet and tennis is my exercise.”

At the Gay Games next month, Glasser will compete in the singles, doubles and team events in bowling. He recently used the Liberty Bell bowling tournament in Philadelphia as a tune-up and will continue to practice bowling weekly along with his tennis play leading up to the Games.

Glasser has a few reasons for staying in the sport of bowling for almost two decades.

“I love the social aspect and there are so many nice and friendly people,” he says. “Since you don’t have to be athletic, I feel that bowling is inclusive of everyone. All types of people can bowl.”

Glasser, who is hearing impaired, is active with the International Gay Bowling Organization and serves as national Co-Chair of the Deaf & Disabled Bowlers Advisory Committee. Their goal is to give everyone an opportunity to participate and to foster a sense of belonging at tournaments and events. They also provide ASL interpreters and ensure that all event venues are ADA compliant.

“Another wonderful thing about bowling is that the handicap pin count scoring system allows an average bowler to directly compete with a good bowler,” he says. “Not every sport offers a chance for all to feel equal.”

Now 40, Glasser says that his favorite thing about the Gay Games is the opening ceremonies. Washington, D.C. is generally the last team before the host team to march into the stadium during the parade of athletes.

“Once Team DC comes into the stadium, it is already packed with athletes and fans. The noise level will be incredible and I won’t be able to stop smiling,” Glasser says. “There is a real sense of acceptance and belonging to a greater community.”

He adds laughing, “I mean the Pointer Sisters are going to be there. I’m so excited. Right?”

17
Jul
2014

Change is coming to homoerotic world of NFL

Kate Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Kate Clinton is a humorist who has entertained LGBT audiences for 30 years.

The Super Bowl High Holy Days approach, signaling the end of the Concussion Season. Unless you’ve been under a rock, and I say that with some envy, you know the game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will take place in Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, unless there’s another “traffic study” from Gov. Conehead. The Jets and the Giants RSVPed their regrets weeks ago. Much has been made of Colorado and California, two states with legalized marijuana, thus The Stoner Bowl.

We’ve seen the effects on tennis players at the Australian Open of whatever is the polar opposite of the polar vortex: passing out, cramping, vomiting, dehydration, Sharapova’s barks at only a raspy .02 decibels. But apparently the Aussie organizers were unable to see the signs and ordered play to continue. I have already ordered one of those neat ice vests for the summer!  We can only hope that the Polar Vortex Redux that is again sitting over the Northeast will be gone by Super Bowl game day.

But 2013 saw a remarkable thaw in the hard-packed perma-frost of homophobia in sports. What was once a glacial pace of change is moving as fast as actual glaciers are moving now. Organizers and fans can see the effects.  According to OutSports, in 2013, 77 athletes came out in their sports. Not in sad memoirs 40 years later. LGBT organizing through the Sports Projects Collaboration at NCLR and straight allies organizing through campaigns like “You Can Play,” to name just two, make playing out less of a career death wish.

Football is one of the last bastions of homophobia in sports. It is also one of the most brute, blunt, homoerotic of sports. Especially if you are watching on a friend’s 120-inch plasma flat-paneled TV. Cup-less is in. I’ve always thought players wear facemasks so they can’t kiss. But change is happening in the NFL, even if it can only be gauged by the resistance to it. Stories of locker room bullying, columns rationalizing those reigns of terror and harassment of straight players who speak out in support of LGBT causes are yellow flag infractions in the monolith of maleness.

As more and more players come out during their playing careers, I look forward to the coverage. Sports commentators pride themselves on knowing what a player is thinking just by looking at them. They are sports clairvoyants.  “You know what he’s thinking as he leans over his putter, Jim? He’s thinking he’s got to make the putt, to make the cut, so he has a chance at the prize money, which he desperately needs for an operation for his four-year-old.” If he is thinking that, he will not make the putt. Why not sign up for Affordable Health Care?

But what if the golfer is an out-and-proud gay man? The sportscaster is a bit wary, perhaps clueless.  “You know what he’s thinking as he leans over his putter?” He pauses, looks worriedly to Jim,  “Is ‘putter’ OK?” Jim nods. He continues, “He’s thinking, ‘Look at the color of these shoes! They looked fine at the hotel. They totally fight with the putting green!’” I can’t wait.

After the Stoner Bowl confetti settles, and the Metlife zeppelin leaking NJ hot air pot vape, heads back to its mooring, the coverage turns to the Olympic Games in Sochi with Billie Jean King and other gay athletes leading the U.S. delegation in the opening ceremonies. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Putin has assured LGBT athletes they can have a safe, relaxed time if they don’t talk to the children. All bets are off post-Olympics. Again the resistance matches the change we make.

29
Jan
2014

UMass basketball player comes out as gay

Derrick Gordon, gay news, Washington Blade, basketball, Division I, University of Massechusetts

Derrick Gordon came out to fans on his Instagram account with the statement, “This is the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living…No more HIDING!!!” (Photo via FlashGordon Instagram)

A University of Massachusetts guard has become the first member of a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I basketball player to come out as gay.

“I’ve always loved sports but always felt I had to hide and be someone that I’m not,” Derrick Gordon told ESPN in an interview published on its website on Wednesday. “I am telling my story so that athletes never feel like they have to hide. You can be true to yourself and play the sport that you love.”

Outsports.com reported Gordon disclosed his sexual orientation to his teammates on April 2 after the team lost to the University of Tennessee in the NCAA tournament. The website said Wade Davis, a gay former National Football League player, and Gordon’s high school basketball coach, Anthony Nicodemo, worked with the UMass guard to help him come out.

“I was deeply moved watching Derrick open his heart to his UMass basketball family,” said Davis, who is the executive director of the You Can Play Project, in a GLAAD press release. “His desire to invite his teammates into his life speaks to how athletes view their teammates as their family,” said Wade Davis, Executive Director of the You Can Play Project.”

Gordon came out roughly two weeks after Mitch Eby, a football player at Chapman University in California, publicly announced his sexual orientation.

Michael Sam, a defensive lineman at the University of Missouri, in February came out.

The potential mid-round NFL draft pick is poised to potentially become the first openly gay professional football player.

09
Apr
2014

Kickball Championship

Stonewall Kickball held its first championship game on the Mall on Sunday. D.C.-based You Can’t Kick With Us! beat out Summer Heights High with a final score of 13-9. The Bubble Bunts of Raleigh, N.C. rounded out the top three teams by coming in third place. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) Kickball Championship 

21
Jul
2014

Russian rendezvous

Hudson Taylor, Athlete Ally, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, gay news, Washington Blade

Hudson Taylor started his LGBT advocacy work during his college wrestling career. He eventually started blogging about homophobia in sports and became a vocal advocate for gay rights. (Photo courtesy Athlete Ally)

Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally, has been granted a visa for travel to Russia where he intends to raise awareness for LGBT rights during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held from Feb. 7-23.

Athlete Ally has partnered with the Principle 6 campaign, which uses the language of the Olympic Charter to allow athletes and fans to speak out against discrimination during the Sochi Games without violating Russian anti-gay laws or the Olympic ban on political speech.

Principle Six is based on a convention of the IOC charter that states that any form of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with the Olympic movement.

On Jan. 21, the first Sochi-related anti-gay arrest occurred when a Russian gay rights advocate waved a rainbow flag during the Olympic Torch relay.

The Blade caught up with Hudson Taylor, a straight ally, wrestling champion and coach (at Columbia University), before he departs for Russia.

 

WASHINGTON BLADE: What was the thought process behind planning a trip to Sochi?

HUDSON TAYLOR: I think Sochi gives us an enormous opportunity to raise awareness about what’s going on in Russia. And, what better way to do that than to be actually on the ground and ensure that this is a conversation that is taking place. I talked to the Athlete Ally board and weighed the risk and reward of going and I think we all agreed that the importance of the moment made it such that I needed to go.

 

BLADE: With all the vague guidance and broad interpretations coming from Russia, where is the line between raising awareness and staging a protest?

TAYLOR: For the Principle Six campaign we thought long and hard about the appropriate line. We are trying to make sure that athletes know that they can show support for Principle Six or the Olympic Charter. This is a way to show the world that discrimination has no place in sports and that the Olympic charter is opposed to what is going on in Russia. As long as we stay true to what the Olympic movement and the Olympic values are all about, we shouldn’t violate Russian law and we shouldn’t put athletes in a position to violate the Olympic Charter.

 

BLADE: Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter is written for the specific purpose of eliminating advertising, demonstrations and propaganda from the stadiums, venues and other competition areas. Since the athletes won’t be able to wear Principle 6 clothing at their venues, what is the plan for exposure of the clothing line?

TAYLOR: Where we have an opening to raise awareness is on how athletes speak out across social media. My hope is to engage athletes to wear Principle 6 clothing or to tweet photos of the language of Principle 6 out to their fans. It’s a great opportunity because social media is technically not an Olympic venue and it can be used to reach every corner of the world.

 

BLADE: American Apparel and Idea Brand were behind the manufacturing and branding of the Principle 6 clothing line. Where are the profits being donated?

TAYLOR: All of the profits will be donated to All Out and Athlete Ally. We in turn will be donating the proceeds to Russian-based LGBT organizations.

 

BLADE: What about the new hand gesture that has been popping up on social media? It consists of the peace sign on one hand and laying the pointer finger of the opposite hand on top of it to form a triangle. Will that be considered propaganda?

TAYLOR: The more opportunities an athlete has to speak out, the better. I think the hand gesture would definitely be construed as propaganda if it is used in the venues or on the medal stands. However, it is another viable and alternative way to speak out by posting it on social media.

 

BLADE: What will your itinerary consist of during your trip to Sochi?

TAYLOR: I will be in Sochi from Feb. 3-9 and I imagine that most of it will consist of reporting and commentating within the Olympic venues. I will probably take a day to visit one of the protest zones just to see what is going on and to ensure that I can report on it.

 

BLADE: The visa process for the Sochi Olympics is incredibly stringent. Were you concerned about your visa being approved?

TAYLOR: At first, when the multiple layers of the visa process were announced by the Embassy of the Russian Federation, there was certainly a cause for concern. Now that some security risks have appeared I think people are OK with the hoops and hurdles you have to go through to be on the ground in Sochi.

 

BLADE: Have the recent terrorist video threats changed anything for you in terms of keeping yourself safe in Sochi?

TAYLOR:  In everything I will be doing in Sochi, there will be a risk and reward calculation. We will figure out a way not to expose myself or the organization to any unnecessary risks while giving the appropriate attention to the human rights issues in Russia and how it is affecting the LGBT community there.

 

BLADE: What about the comments made by Putin linking the gay community to pedophilia? Do you think those comments will make the gay rights advocates more aggressive in their protests?

TAYLOR: For advocates who are passionate about these issues, it will certainly stoke a fire in them, especially in an Olympic situation where athletes under the age of 18 will be competing and who may in fact be LGBT. Putin’s comments only exacerbate or incentivize people to speak out against it. The stark contrast of how Putin sees the LGBT community versus how the rest of the world sees them will be very evident during the Sochi Games.

 

BLADE:  How hard will you be trying to get into the NBC Studios to chat with Bob Costas?

TAYLOR: Very hard (laughing). When you look at what athletes have the ability to do in terms of raising awareness, one area is social media and the other is the responses they give to the journalists who ask the questions. We will make sure that we are aware of all the journalists on the ground and have their contact information so that we can make ourselves available should they have an interest in covering this topic.

 

BLADE: Will you be attending any of the competitions?

TAYLOR: I will be attending the opening ceremonies but do not plan on buying any tickets to the sporting venues. While I am on the ground in Sochi, it will be important to keep an eye out for the statements and actions that are happening in cities around the world.  I think a lot of people will be demonstrating and coming together to support the LGBT community.  It will be pretty amazing to watch.

 

BLADE: Good luck Hudson. Be safe.

31
Jan
2014