“New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup is focused on making his second Olympic team. He got a taste of what to expect at the Winter Olympics, which begin one year from today, at a recent race in Sochi, Russia.
But he’s also concerned about the anti-gay legislation working its way through the Russian parliament. After competing in the 2010 Vancouver Games, Skjellerup publicly acknowledged he’s gay.
The bill, which is expected to pass, would outlaw “homosexual propaganda” making public events that promote gay rights and public displays of affection by same-sex couples illegal. St. Petersburg and a number of other Russian cities already have similar laws.
A call to the Russian Embassy seeking comment was not returned.
“I don’t want to have to tone myself down about who I am,” Skjellerup said. “That wasn’t very fun and there’s no way I’m going back in the closet. I just want to be myself and I hate to think that being myself would get me in trouble.”
Given the growing homophobia, openly gay Olympic athletes and others hoping to attend the Games have reason for concern.”
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