Greg Louganis: Protest Russia's Anti-Gay Laws, Not Sochi Olympics

Image: Greg Louganis: Protest Russia's Anti-Gay Laws, Not Sochi Olympics

Monday, 16 Dec 2013 01:43 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Olympic diving legend and gay rights activist Greg Louganis doesn't want American Olympians to boycott the Sochi Games in February and instead urged athletes to protest Russia's anti-gay laws by dedicating their performances to the LGBT community.

Speaking Friday at a Capitol Hill briefing of the House LGBT Equality Caucus hosted by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Human Rights First, Louganis said a boycott would "hurt the wrong people," namely the elite athletes who have trained for years to be able to perform at the Olympics, USA Today Sports reported.

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Instead, Louganis said they should protest by publicly thanking their gay friends and relatives who supported them throughout their training.

Louganis is best known as the four-time gold medalist who won back-to-back Olympic titles in springboard and platform diving at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympics. He was also a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow Games.

After his diving career ended, Louganis revealed he was gay in 1994 and announced he was HIV-positive a year later. He now works as an athlete mentor for USA Diving, and was also featured earlier this year as a celebrity coach on ABC's reality diving competition "Splash."

The international gay community has railed against Russia's anti-gay law ever since it was passed in June. The measure reportedly seeks to protect minors by banning the propaganda of "nontraditional sexual relations."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed that there will be no discrimination at the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Sochi on Feb. 7, but many are still calling for a boycott.

Louganis, who has been very public about his opposition to a boycott, said he's even received hate mail over it.

"I was told, 'How can I call myself a gay man?' Or that I was a horrible homosexual," he told USA Today Sports. "I had one really graphic and hateful one and actually reached out to him and we became friends. I was able to express why. I come from the perspective of an athlete.

"I commended the guy who was critical of me. All I'm trying to do is incite action. That's all he's trying to do. We're all on the same side. If you say boycott, that's how you address the issue. I am saying no boycott, but maybe there is another way."

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