Rolling Out

Jason Collins urges the International Olympic Committee to support gay athletes, citizens

Jason Collins & Martina Navratilova - UN Cover

Talk of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia has been bubbling over for months as people across the globe have let out a unified outcry against the games being in Russia because of the nation’s new anti-gay laws and anti-gay attacks. Now, two of the sports world’s biggest openly gay stars, Jason Collins and Martina Navratilova, are opening up about the issue and recently asked the International Olympic Committee to commit to supporting gay athletes at the games.

On Tuesday, Collins and Navratilova appeared at the United Nations, alongside human race activists, as part of a special event for International Human Rights Day.

While speaking to the crowd, Collins talked about how homophobia was not tolerated in the National Basketball Association, as Commissioner David Stern had made certain language and action punishable by a minimum fine of $50,000. Collins also spoke about life for LGBT Russians outside of the games and urged officials to work to bring liberties to the oppressed community.

“Once the games leave, all those people are still going to be there oppressed,” he said. “That’s something that isn’t right. People should be able to live their lives openly, and not be afraid that if they say or do the wrong thing, just by holding someone’s hand in public that they can go to jail.”

Navratilova, who Collins admitted to the UN had inspired him throughout his career, spoke about inspiring others to stand up for the LGBT community across the globe and end homophobia.

“Gays and lesbians seem to be the last group of people that it’s still ok to pick on for whatever reason in whatever way,” Ms. Navratilova said.

“Sport and politics are inextricably combined. They go hand in hand,” she said urging athletes who are also members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to be more visible. “Get in their face. Once you’re visible, you make it personal.”

Navratilova als referred to the powerful messages of freedom from the late Nelson Mandela and said, “sports has the power to change the world and has been at the forefront of social change in many countries over the last century.”

We commend Both Collins and Navratilova for their efforts in trying to bring freedom and acceptance to the LGBT community all across the globe. Hoepfully, their words will help to inspire change in Russsia and any other country that still tolerates homophobia.

Check out some other out athletes after the cut. – nicholas robinson

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