Meet the Openly Gay Athletes that Participated in the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014
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Then in July 2013, Russia made it illegal for foreign gay and lesbian couples to adopt Russian children, and in October 2013, the government proposed legislation that would remove Russian children from their LGBT parents. The proposal is now withdrawn.

Over the last seven months, Russia has introduced or amended at least 13 laws restricting freedom of expression, association and assembly of non-governmental organizations, particularly those that receive foreign funding — a violation of international human rights law, says Amnesty International.  In response to the international outcry, Russian President Vladimir Putin awkwardly backpedaled into a pedophilia comparison. The leader — known for riding shirtless on a horse — assured the world on Jan. 17, 2014 that LGBT people attending the Olympics could "feel safe" so long as they "leave kids alone."  

Click Here to Read More About the International Response to Russia's Discriminatory LGBT Policies 

Here are six openly gay athletes who will be competing at Sochi:

Anastasia_Bucsis_Canadian_Speed_Skater

Anastasia Bucsis, Canadian Speed Skater

 

Bucsis came out publicly at Calgary's Gay Pride Parade in September 2013, two years after telling her family and friends. The 24-year-old speed skater is on Canada's national team and competed in the 500-meter speed skating event at the 2010 Vancouver Games. She told the Globe and Mail she was "so proud to be gay" and wanted to speak out against Russia's anti-gay laws: "I could never promote that message of concealing who you are with all of this going on in Russia. I'm kind of happy that I did it on my own terms. ... I also have faith in Russia. I think, I hope, that things will get better."

Belle_Brockhoff_Australian_Snowborder

Belle Brockhoff, Australian Snowboarder

 

Brockhoff was the first LGBT Olympian to come out in protest of Russia's legislation, during an interview with Australia's ABC TV on Aug. 22, 2013. The 20-year-old snowboarder and Olympic newbie said she wanted to show Putin how successful gay and lesbian athletes could be. In January Brockhoff seriously upped her game: "After I compete, I'm willing to rip on [Putin's] ass. I'm not happy and there's a bunch of other Olympians who are not happy either." She promised to send him a six-finger salute on camera — representing Principle Six, the Olympic Charter's anti-discrimination principle.

 

Ireen_Wust_Dutch_Spead_Skater

Ireen Wüst, Dutch Speed Skater

 

In October 2009, Wüst told Dutch magazine I she had a girlfriend — fellow speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof. Wüst, who is 27, won gold in the 3,000-meter race in the 2006 Torino Games and in the 1,500-meter race in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

 

Sanne_van_Kerkhof_Dutch_short_track_speed_skater

Sanne van Kerkhof, Dutch Short Track Speed Skater

 

The 26-year-old skater has been out since at least 2009, when Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst revealed the two were dating. Van Kerkhof competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games. But as blogger Pat Griffin points out, not all openly gay athletes are interested in public LGBT advocacy. Last November, van Kerkhof said: "It is sad to hear about somebody beaten up because he is gay. It's terrible... but we, professional athletes, did go to China as well. There are also people who live in inhumane conditions in slums and we are housed in a 5-star hotel. We can't do anything about it."

 

Cheryl_Maas_Dutch_Snowboarder

Cheryl Maas, Dutch Snowboarder

 

Maas is married to Norwegian former snowboarder Stine Brun Kjeldaas, with whom she has a daughter. The 29-year-old snowboarder competed in the half-pipe at the 2006 Torino Games. Her wife, a fellow Olympian, competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and won silver in the half-pipe at the 1998 Nagano Games. In October, Maas said: "In my opinion, the IOC should choose a location more deliberately. They should exclude countries where certain minorities are excluded, such as in Russia. With the choice of Russia, the IOC is taking a step back in time. Russia lives in the past, while we should look forward."

 

Barbara_Jezersek_Slovenian_Cross_Country_Skier

Barbara Jezeršek, Slovenian Cross Country Skier

Jezeršek, who is openly lesbian, competed in the 10-kilometer race, 15-kilometer race and 4x5-kilometer relay in the 2010 Vancouver Games.


Ari-Pekka_Liukkonen_Finish_Swimmer

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, Finnish Swimmer

 

Liukkonen came out in an interview with Finnish newspaper YLE on Feb. 2, 2014. The 24-year-old swimmer competed in the 2012 London Games and won a bronze medal in the 4x50m mixed freestyle relay at the 2012 European Championships. Luikkonen is the first Finnish athlete to come out publicly while still active in his sport. He said, "I hope that in Finland we can get to the stage where we don't need to talk about this anymore as soon as possible.... It's a really great feeling that I can finally be myself."

 

Thomas_Hitzlsperger_German_Football_Player

Thomas Hitzlsperger, German Football Player

 

On Jan. 8, 2014, Hitzlsperger assembled a group of reporters from German weekly Die Zeit and told them he is gay in a lengthy interview. "I think this is a good moment for it. The Olympic Games in Sochi are coming up and I think we need critical voices against the campaigns of several governments against homosexuals." The 31-year-old midfielder played for Germany in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 UEFA European Championships. Hitzlsperger noted, "Modern soccer is no place for people stuck in yesterday, or people with crusty old prejudices. This all serves to encourage young people about to enter the world of professional sports." 

 

Ian_Matos_Brazilian_Diver

Ian Matos, Brazilian Diver

 

Matos came out to Brazilian newspaper Correio on Jan. 6, 2014, partly inspired by the YouTube video of British diver Tom Daley. The 24-year-old diver said: "When I saw it, I joked with a friend. I said I was going to do it as well." He advised me not to do it until after the 2016 Rio Games so I wouldn't loose sponsorships — a common concern among Brazilian athletes. But Matos says he is tired of avoiding gay parties, hiding boyfriends and pretending to be straight. The diver, who was born in Pennsylvania, was Brazil's 3-meter champion in 2013.

 

Tom_Delay_British_Diver

Tom Daley, British Diver

 

Nineteen-year-old Daley opened up about his personal life via YouTube on Dec. 2, 2013: "Come spring this year, my life changed massively when I met someone and it made me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great. And that someone is a guy." Specifically, that guy is "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Daley said he still "fancies" girls but wanted to put an end to speculation about his relationship status. He then tweeted the video to his more than 2.4 million Twitter followers. The teen concluded: "I still want to win an Olympic medal in Rio 2016 for Great Britain. I'm still as motivated as ever to do that and it would be great to have you guys on that journey as well." Daley competed in the 2008 Beijing Games (when he was 14!) and won a bronze medal in the 10-meter platform at the 2012 London Games.  

 

 

Radford, a Canadian skater who won a gold medal and a bronze at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, and Funero, a Spanish ice dancing national champion, got engaged in June 2017 when the former popped the question. “I’ve learned that the best things in life have a level of simplicity to them,” Radford wrote on Instagram at the time. “I see it in art, I hear it in music and I feel it with this man. Loving him is simple and beautiful.”

 

Screen Shot 2019 07 21 at 3.36.10 PM

 

Fast forward two years and the guys are enjoying life as newlyweds. “It was perfect,” Radford said of the wedding on Instagram on July 12, 2019. “An amount of love I could’ve never imagined and a wedding day I could’ve never dreamed,” he wrote the following day, posting portraits from the big day.   On his account, Funero simply said, “Si, quiero.”

 

Screen Shot 2019 07 21 at 3.34.30 PM

 

Here come the grooms! Figure skaters Eric Radford and Luis Funero tied the knot last week in Spain, where gay marriage was legalized all the way back in 2005.

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