Gay Speed Skater Hopes to Be Out and Proud at Sochi Olympics
New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup hopes to be the first openly gay athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with a mission to support fellow gays by casting a light on Russia’s oppressive anti-gay propaganda laws.
"I will be myself in Russia. And at the moment that is illegal. My goal is to inspire, encourage and offer support to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people in Russia," Skjellerup told the British newspaper, the Guardian.
"I would love for Putin to get to know me. I would tell him how much I disagree with his oppressive anti-gay propaganda laws, and that he has a responsibility as the president of Russia to represent all the people of his country," said the athlete.
Skjellerup said that he had arranged secret meetings with gay activists, saying that the stories they told "chilled him."
"It was emotional to hear what they were going through," he told the Guardian. "They were afraid on so many levels. The law is very discriminative and oppressive and it’s leading to greater violence against LGBT people. At the weekend two gunmen opened fire at a gay club in Moscow and such acts are not uncommon. For many the only choice is to go underground."