A Philadelphia woman wants sports fans to “come out for the Olympics.” The campaign is meant to support athletes and fans headed to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia. That country’s criminalization of public displays of support for gays and lesbians has drawn widespread condemnation.
Anna Aagenes is the Executive Director of “GO! Athletes,” the first national network of LGBT athletes in the United States. She said the group’s new multimedia campaign is meant to support the LGBT athletes heading to Russia. “There’s been a lot of talk about what to do about Russia – boycotting the games or waiting until 2020 or dumping vodka in the street. And part of our mission, part of our philosophy is we really want to help athletes right now. We know that there are athletes that are packing their bags, that are making tough decisions about whether or not to go.”
Aagenes said there’s concern for the safety of the gay and lesbian athletes who attend the games. “Hopefully us showing this support will not only support them but will show the IOC and other governing bodies that will be overseeing the Olympics that there is a need to help protect these athletes that are going to be competing in the games.”
Aagenes said supporters of the campaign are encouraged to post a sports photo of themselves with the “Out4Olympics” hashtag on Twitter or Instagram. She says a book of the photos will be presented to the International Olympic Committee and to the U-S and Russian Departments of State to encourage the protection of LGBT athletes.