Calgarian speedskater joins athletes against Russia's antigay laws
Canadian long-track speedskater Anastasia Bucsis from Calgary is the latest to join the ranks of Olympic athletes who are taking a stand against Russia's antigay legislation.
Bucsis is teaming up with Athlete Ally, a non-profit advocacy group that seeks to increase equality in sports by addressing and raising awareness of homophobia and transphobia.
"Taking on an advocacy role seems natural, because I am proud to be both an athlete and gay," Bucsis stated in a news release. "I started speed skating at the age of four, and wasn't aware of any other gay skaters when growing up; during my 'coming out' I was very anxious and lonely because I lacked having an ‘out’ athletic role model. I didn't have any other gay athletic friends, or any mentors that I could readily turn to for advice or support. I am ready to help any athlete out there who is considering coming out of the closet. It's the best decision I ever made."
Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup, and American figure skater Johnny Weir—who are all Olympic-calibre winter sports athletes—have all joined forces with Athlete Ally.
Brockhoff explained that staying closeted was not something she could do.
“It wasn't an option for me because I want to live honestly as myself," she stated. "I knew I'd be more comfortable being out than hiding who I am regardless of Russia’s anti-gay laws. I think if people in sport who are unfamiliar with the LGBT community educate themselves a little bit more about us, it'll help encourage them to be more supportive and accepting.”
Both Bucsis and Brockhoff decided to come out publicly in direct response to Russia's antigay law.
Bucsis came out on Twitter on September 1 at the Calgary Pride parade.
Nearly 100 professional athletes from 17 sports, both queer and straight, have joined Athlete Ally as ambassadors, including Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, ATP tennis player Andy Roddick, and NFL linebacker Scott Fujita.
The organization, in conjunction with All Out, has posted a petition on its website asking for equality at the Sochi Winter Olympics.