Support for Gay Athletes on the Rise, Just Not in Russia

Even though the world has made significant progress in the past few years, it’s still hard out there for gay men and lesbians, especially in the world of sports. The You Can Play Project is an organization dedicated to rectifying this by promoting equality, safety and respect for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation.

Several professional athletes and college teams have signed onto the project, and, as of June, the first American women’s professional sports team has signed on, as well. Earlier this week, the Seattle Reign FC (a soccer team, to the uninitiated) released a video announcing their partnership with You Can Play:

You may wonder what’s so significant about a woman’s team signing onto the goals of You Can Play (other than the fact that it’s the right thing to do and every team should make the sporting atmosphere accepting of all sexual orientations). I mean, homophobia is only a problem in the macho world of men’s sports, right?


According to Think Progress, perceived homosexuality in women’s sports can be just as damaging as it is in men’s sports:

Women still face homophobia though, particularly in collegiate sports, because the perception that female athletes are unfeminine and perhaps more likely to be lesbians can often drive backlash against those who actually are. Homophobia has contributed to the downfall of lesbian coaches in women’s sports, while lesbian players, like Brittney Griner, who came out shortly before becoming the top pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, are often pressured to stay in the closet or downplay their sexuality. “Be straight, or at the very least, act straight,” ESPN’s Luke Cyphers and Kate Fagan wrote of the attitude that is often pervasive in women’s sports.

This type of support for gay and lesbian athletes is especially important as we gear up for the Olympic Games next year in Russia. As I’m sure you well know, the Russian LGBT community has of late been subjected to appalling homophobic violence, and some are calling for a boycott of the games. Sure, the International Olympic Committee says it has reassurances that gay athletes will be safe, but one Russian lawmaker is A-OK with arresting gay athletes and spectators who dare set foot on pristine, hetero, Russian soil.

It’s all very disheartening.

But things are progressing, although not as quickly as we’d like. Major League Baseball is enhancing it’s anti-discrimination policy. The NFL and NBA have each added sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policies. And with organizations like You Can Play fighting the good fight, I’m hopeful that things will only get better.

Photo Credit: YouTube / YouCanPlayProject


Ken Y.
Ken Y4 years ago

I want to know something...
Am I, as a heterosexual becoming a part of the minority because never has so much effort been put into pleasing a segment of the population...I have always been a pink supporter but it has finally gone over the top. Peace to all people BUT

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Everyone needs to stand up to Russia on this issue!

Margaret Goodman
Margaret G4 years ago

I really liked Mark's suggestion that all of the Olympic symbols include a pink triangle. It reminds me of one Scandinavian country's response to the Nazis in World War II. All of the country's citizens, including the king, wore the yellow armbands that the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear.

Laura Saxon
.4 years ago

Great news. Thanks for sharing.

Karen Martinez
Karen Martinez4 years ago

This is interesting. Athletes who have trained for years to be able to compete at this level should not be left out based upon their sexual preferences. Why can't people appreciate their athletic abilities? Leave what happens behind closed doors there.

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

Incredibly Courageous Russians Fight Bravely On!

36 Photos from Russia that everyone needs to see.

THERE IS BLOOD, so if that makes you queasy, don't go here...
And speaking of Bravery...
Moscow Pride leader Nikolai Alekseev announced his group would organize a "SOCHI PRIDE" to correspond with opening day of the Olympics!
The Gay community itself is DIVIDED about whether to boycott or not. This includes the Gay Community in Russia itself. Some Gay groups in Russia have called for a Boycott of the Winter Olympics. On the other hand, Alekseev's group says "It will be much more effective to draw attention to official homophobia in Russia all around the world and expose the hypocrisy of the International Olympic Committee which went into discriminatory agreements with [the] Russian regime..."
And, speaking of Boycotts: BOEING AND MICROSOFT should be encouraged to STOP OUTSOURCING WORK TO RUSSIA and NOT partner with Russian-based companies in ANY way. [Info from Seattle Gay News Aug. 2]

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

Write to those slick magazines, to PULL THEIR ADS for Russian Vodka... this could start to really HURT Russia. Write to President Obama, to MAKE A STATEMENT... there's a Petition.

Another thing that should be done, is to DENY VISAS to those Russian Legislators sponsoring Hate-the-Gays Legislation...
The U.S. State Department could do this, OTHER countries could also, the U.S. should take the lead...
there is precedent for this.

By the way, Russian legislators have banned the adoption of children from their country, not only by Gay couples, but by ANY couples in ANY country with Gay Marriage legalized - this is most of Europe and the U.S.... means a lot of kids in orphanages, as many Russians can't afford to adopt...

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

Gloria: "None of the gay bars in our neighborhood are serving Russian vodka."
Gay people do consume lots of Vodka, it's "fashionable" these days, since it mixes well with other liquids - and Gays have lots to Celebrate - like Gay Marriage in 15 States!
STOLI is, I've heard, the main Russian brand. There are OTHER countries, like Poland, that make and export Vodka. Switch brands! if you must have your Vodka.
Bars & Restaurants stop serving Russian Vodka, don't TRAVEL to Russia, Boycott recent Russian movies {I can't think of any anyway}, Russian Caviar, Furs, all things from Russia recently. Easy enough!
This IS the pernicious influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, exactly as in the days of the Tsars, making an alliance with Putin to keep BOTH Authoritarian Institutions in Power...

Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago

hm, thanks, as much as gay rights is important, if these athletes don't feel safe or don't want to go to Russia, they aren't being forced.