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Beijing Winter Olympics end with 8 medals for Out athletes

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing concluded Sunday but China’s ongoing abuses of human rights did not go unnoticed



Closing Ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing (Screenshot via Sky Sport NZ)

BEIJING – The 2022 Winter Olympics concluded Sunday in Beijing with another colorful ceremony, a success for the organizers’ “closed loop” tactic to control and limit COVID-19 exposure and historic wins for several out LGBTQ athletes, including two Americans. But China’s ongoing abuses of human rights and oppression of its citizens’ sexual orientations and gender identities did not go unnoticed. 

Gus Kenworthy Slams Into Wall, Then Slams IOC

One of the most famous Olympians, whose kiss of his boyfriend was seen ‘round the world four years ago, left Beijing without a medal, with some bruises and harsh words for both China and the International Olympic Committee.  

Out skier Gus Kenworthy survived a heartstopping run on the men’s freeski halfpipe Saturday, and told reporters after competition “It was a tough, tough day to do this,” Yahoo! reported. 

Kenworthy said that despite his eighth place finish, he was proud to have competed, but criticized China and the IOC, according to the Guardian

“I am absolutely a fan of the Olympics,” Kenworthy said. “I also think, that being said, because it’s the world stage and everyone is watching, there is an opportunity to create positive change and the IOC could help dictate that change by pushing on certain issues. Those issues are human rights issues.”

British-born Kenworthy, who holds dual citizenry in the U.S. and U.K. and competed for Great Britain, lifted his jacket to reveal a shirt proclaiming he was “Openly British.” He had told previously reporters how important it was to be openly gay, too. “Honestly, it means the world to me to get to compete here as an out proud gay man and to know that there are other out LGBTQ athletes that are here competing,” he told Reuters.

“When there’s human rights and the country’s stance on LGBT, those issues should be taken into consideration by the IOC,” said Kenworthy. 


Outsports, which has been tracking the out Olympians since before these games began, recorded a total of eight medals for what it dubbed TeamLGBTQ, enough to be ranked 12th overall if they were counted as a separate entry among the 91 nations participating. There were 36 out athletes among the 2,871 in Beijing, the site reported. That’s a new record, even though it’s a far smaller number than the historic showing of 186 out athletes who took part in the Summer Games.

Gold Medalists

The latest medalist taking home gold is out gay skier Sandra Näeslund of Sweden, who is not only the number one skier in the world but the first gold medalist in women’s ski cross who isn’t from Canada, reported ESPN. 

“I am so incredibly proud and grateful!” Näeslund said about the win in a post on Instagram, in which she also thanked her girlfriend and her family in her native language. “I am very proud of how I completed the competition, how I rode with confidence, focus and calm throughout the competition day,” she wrote in Swedish. “I rode stably and fast as I did all season even on that day when it mattered most!”

“Grateful to everyone who has been with and somehow helped me on my journey,” she added. “I have the world’s finest family and girlfriend who support and stand up no matter what.”

Other LGBTQ gold medalists include at least seven players on the Canadian women’s ice hockey team who are openly LGBTQ, making it the gayest Winter Olympic team of all time: Brianne Jenner, Emily Clark, Erin Ambrose, Melodie Daoust, Jamie Lee Rattray, Jill Saulnier and Micah Zandee-Hart; Guillaume Cizeron of France, with ice dancing partner Gabriela Papadakis; and bisexual Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands for speed skating. She also took home a bronze medal. 

Silver Medalist Bruce Mouat

Out gay British curler Bruce Mouat was the final LGBTQ medalist in Beijing, reported Outsports. He returns to Great Britain with Team GB’s second medal, a silver, after an oh-so-close loss to Sweden when their gold medal final went to the curling equivalent of overtime or extra innings, called an extra end. 

“I’m extremely proud of them all, we obviously wanted a different result, but every hour that’s passing we’re feeling better about having this medal around our necks,” Mouat told the BBC. I’m standing with four guys that I’m so proud of.”

Out Olympian Alex Carpenter and her Team USA ice hockey teammates won their fourth Olympic silver medal.

Bronze Medalist Brittany Bowe

Also last week, American speedskater Brittany Bowe of Ocala, Fla. took home her first individual Olympic medal. Bowe made headlines even before the Winter Games began by representing Team USA as the only out LGBTQ flag bearer at the opening ceremony, and by giving up her spot in the 500-meter race to teammate and fellow Floridian Erin Jackson, who slipped and finished third in the qualifers last month. 

Jackson went on to win gold in Beijing, becoming the first Black woman gold medalist in the sport, and thanked Bowe for the opportunity in a post on Instagram

On Thursday, Bowe recorded a 1:14.61 time in the 1,000 meter race to finish just under a second and a half slower than Japanese gold medalist Miho Takagi, and take home bronze, as Insider reported. Bowe congratulated Takagi and silver medalist Jutta Leerdam of the Netherlands in her own post on Instagram. Bowe regularly posts photos of her girlfriend there. 

Finland’s women’s hockey team won its second consecutive bronze medal in women’s ice hockey, with out player Ronja Savolainen playing a big role, reported Outsports.

Showing Pride

TeamUSA’s Andrew Blaser was the first out gay man to compete in skeleton at the Olympics, and although his team did not take home a medal, he did find a way around the IOC’s ban on political statements with a rainbow saddle given to him by a teammate. 

Medal Count

Overall, Norway won the most medals, 37, with an overwhelming 16 gold. Germany and China followed, and although the U.S. won ten more medals than China, TeamUSA finished fourth because it only won 8 gold to China’s 9. You can see the entire list here.


As Yahoo! reported, 67K screening tests were conducted on Friday, and resulted in zero positives, according to Olympics officials. The IOC proclaimed its “closed loop lock down” strategy a huge success. Organizers conducted 1.7M tests, including nearly 14K tests at the Beijing airport on incoming arrivals, and reported a total of 436 positive cases. 

What was lost, according to sports journalist Jay Busbee, was what he called the “finest trait” of the Olympic Games: “the ability for cultures to mix and mingle, to learn from one another, not hide behind petty fears, biases and preconceptions,” he wrote. “Athletes stick with athletes, journalists with journalists, and nobody really gets to know the people of China, since we’re all confined behind fences and bus windows. The closed loop has turned this Olympics from a cultural milestone into a carousel: hotel-media-center-venue-media center-hotel, repeat for 18 days.” 


And that limitation could be one reason why NBC once again snubbed the 36 LGBTQ Olympians, hardly ever spotlighting our heroes’ orientations and identities as significant. “It’s now an Olympic tradition,” Outsports pointed out. One of the few exceptions: Commentator and Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski corrected herself and apologized for misgendering TeamUSA figure skater Timothy LeDuc, the first-ever nonbinary Winter Olympian. Their team’s website needs a correction, too, by the way; It still lists LeDuc as “male.”  

Next Up

The next Summer Games will be held in Paris in 2024 and the next Winter Games are set for Italy’s Milano Cortina in 2026.



Los Angeles Dodgers apologize, reverse decision on disinviting drag group

Pride Night to take place June 16



Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Facebook photo)

In a tweet Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball franchise reversed last Wednesday’s decision to disinvite the LA Chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from a scheduled “Community Hero Award” presentation for the team’s annual Pride Night on June 16.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath announced on Twitter Monday afternoon after the Dodgers apology, and its accompanying public acceptance by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, that she had been pleased to have assisted in facilitating a meeting between the team, the Sisters and stakeholders in the LGBTQ community’s leadership both non-profit and political to come to an understanding.

In a Monday afternoon phone call with the Los Angeles Blade, Horvath explained that important dialogue between the Dodgers and other parties had commenced. She said that earlier on Monday, in a meeting at Dodger Stadium, the stakeholders met to work out a solution.

“I was honestly moved and grateful by the commitment in the room by all the parties, especially Dodgers president and part-owner Stan Kasten,” Horvath said.

In addition to the representatives from the Sisters drag group, the meeting was also attended by Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief Executive Officer Joe Hollendoner, LA Pride President Gerald GarthBoard, West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne, state Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur, and state Sen. Caroline Menjivar. Zbur and Menjivar attending on behalf of the California Legislative LGBTQ caucus.

Horvath indicated that she felt it was a critically important meeting with all stakeholders as they worked through the anger, sense of betrayal, and misgivings over the Dodgers actions. She pointed out that she was convinced that the Dodgers president was genuinely remorseful and apologetic.

In an email Monday night, Zbur told the Blade: “It was clear that today’s meeting followed meaningful internal dialogue among Dodgers management, with whom I had numerous frank conversations during the week and weekend. I’m pleased that the Dodgers came to understand the genuine hurt and injury caused by the decision to exclude the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — one that did not reflect our Los Angeles or California values.

As the only LGBTQ members of the Legislature representing Los Angeles, Senator Menjivar and I participated in the meeting at the request of the California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus to express the serious and uniform concern of Democratic members of the California Legislature.

After hearing the perspectives of the Sisters, L.A. Pride and the LGBTQ+ leaders in the room, the Dodger management apologized unequivocally for their mistake, re-invited the Sisters to participate in the event, and engaged in a discussion about the steps that they could take to reconcile with LGBTQ+ community.

I was proud of the Sisters, who demonstrated  resilience, strength and a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community during the discussion, and I was impressed with the sincerity of the apology by the Dodger management.”

The Los Angeles LGBT Center had called on the team to cancel Pride Night altogether. After the Dodgers had made their public apology, Hollendoner issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Dodgers to publicly apologize to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and roll back their exclusion from next month’s Pride Night is a step in the right direction, and we support the Sisters’ vote to accept their much-deserved Community Hero Award.

Last week’s debacle underscores the dangerous impact of political tactics by those who seek to stoke the flames of anti-LGBTQ bias at a time when our rights are under attack. We must continue to stand together as a community in defense of the rights and recognition of LGBTQ+ people in Los Angeles and beyond.

The Center is filled with gratitude to our Los Angeles community, who mobilized to support the Sisters, all of which compelled the Dodgers to ultimately do right by LGBTQ+ people everywhere. We are proud to stand with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and will join them at Pride Night to honor their many important contributions to our movement.

The Dodgers’ course correction and the conversations we have had with the organization’s leadership since last week demonstrates the version of allyship we have come to expect from the team over the years. The Center will always strive to hold our corporate partners accountable — which means so much more than waving a rainbow flag.” 

The team announced last week it would drop the drag group from its celebration of LGBTQ+
fans, the day after a letter-writing campaign was launched by the anti-LGBTQ Catholic League. Catholic League President Bill Donohue accused the team of “rewarding anti-Catholicism” by honoring the group.

“The Catholic League has been the leading critic of this bigoted organization for many decades,” Donohue wrote on the organization’s website. “… These homosexual bigots are known for simulating sodomy while dressed as nuns.”

He added, “Just last month, they held an event mocking our Blessed Mother and Jesus on Easter Sunday.”

One of those writing, was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who also sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, stating that he was questioning whether the League is “inclusive and welcoming” to Christians. 

At the time, the Dodgers said they removed the group from their Pride Night celebration “given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the Sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits … of Pride Night.”

On Saturday, Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken invited the drag group to Angels Pride Night in a tweet, as reported by the Blade: “I’m inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to join me for @Angels Pride Night at Anaheim Stadium on June 7. Pride should be inclusive and like many, I was disappointed in the Dodgers’ decision,” tweeted the Mayor .

Neither the Angels nor the mayor’s office confirmed that invitation as of press time, and also did not comment on the Dodgers’ reversal.

However, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange took aim at Aitken for extending the invitation to the drag group:

“The decision to openly embrace a group whose demeaning behavior is anti-Catholic and anti-Christian is misguided and disrespectful to the sisters of the Catholic Church who minister in Orange County and selflessly dedicate their lives to God’s underserved people,” said Jarryd Gonzales, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange on Monday.

“We cannot condone any actions that have historically shown such high levels of disregard for the sincerely held beliefs of the faithful,” he added.

“Our June 7th Pride Night is part of Major League Baseball’s league-wide effort to raise awareness and promote acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. As in the past, OC Pride has assisted our Organization in the planning of this event as well as outreach to all fans throughout Southern California,” an Angels spokesperson said on the mayor’s invitation.

The Sisters have not indicated publicly if they plan to attend the Angels Pride Night as of yet.

Sources tell the Blade out gay Dodgers Vice President Erik Braverman was being advised on this crisis by Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler. When contacted by the Blade, Zeigler declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the Dodgers did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Vice president meets Brittney Griner before first game back

Russia released WNBA star from penal colony late last year



Brittney Griner and her wife, Cherelle Griner, with Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, on May 19, 2023, before Brittney Griner's first professional basketball game back since being released from a Russian penal camp. (White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Vice President Kamala Harris accompanied by her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, greeted WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury star center Brittney Griner and her wife Cherelle Friday night before Griner’s first professional basketball game back since being released from a Russian penal camp last December.

According to the White House Press Pool reporter traveling with Harris, she and Emhoff arrived at Arena in downtown Los Angeles and met with the Griners prior to the game between the LA Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.

After conversations between the four, the vice president met with the rest of the Mercury in their dressing rooms before meeting with host team the LA Sparks in theirs.

According to the Advocate’s reporter Christopher Wiggins, in her meeting with the Mercury, the vice president said:

“I came here to talk to the team to congratulate you on exhibiting excellence in every way. You are some of the finest athletes in the world, and to do what you do every day shows that it is right to have ambition,” she said.

“It is right to have aspirations. It is right to work hard. It is right to compete when you know you have put everything into it; when you have trained, when you have discipline, when you have intelligence and when you have brilliance.”

She added, “It makes me so proud as vice president of the United States to go around the world talking to folks about a variety of issues, and one of the subjects that does come up is the WNBA. [The world] is watching what you guys are doing, lifting up the excellence of the finest athletes in the world.”

After meeting both teams Harris then showed up at center court to cheers from about 10,000 people and received an honorary jersey from the Sparks.

The Sparks beat the Mercury 94-71, although the Advocate pointed out: “Griner’s return to the floor and doing what she loves was more important than the result. Six rebounds, four blocks, and 18 points rounded out her performance.”

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West Virginia University basketball coach apologizes for gay slurs

Bob Huggins used the “F word” in a radio interview discussing a rival team when he was coaching men’s basketball at University of Cincinnati



Bill Huggins (Photo Credit: West Virginia University)

The coach of the West Virginia University Men’s Basketball team said he’s sorry for homophobic slurs he used to described fans of a rival team during a radio interview on Monday. Administrators said they are reviewing the incident and Coach Bob Huggins said he is prepared to face the consequences. 

“All those fags, those Catholic fags,” Huggins said, when he was asked about Xavier University on Cincinnati station 700WLW’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Huggins was discussing his 16-season tenure with the University of Cincinnati and the school’s intracity rivalry with Xavier.

The host asked the former coach of the Bearcats about a moment during a Crosstown Shootout game against the Musketeers. Huggins said Xavier fans threw sex toys onto the court.

“It was transgender night, wasn’t it?” asked Cunningham, making a wisecrack since there was no such thing. “It was the Crosstown Shootout,” Huggins replied. “What it was, was all those fags, those Catholic fags, I think, threw them.”

Huggins added that the fans would “throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it.”

“They were envious they didn’t have one.”

The Mountaineers coach issued a statement of apology within hours of those comments:

“Earlier today on a Cincinnati radio program, I was asked about the rivalry between my former employer, the University of Cincinnati, and its crosstown rival, Xavier University.

“During the conversation, I used a completely insensitive and abhorrent phrase that there is simply no excuse for — and I won’t try to make one here.

“I deeply apologize to the individuals I have offended, as well as to the Xavier community, the University of Cincinnati and West Virginia University.

“As I have shared with my players over my 40 years coaching, there are consequences for our words and actions, and I will fully accept any coming my way. I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will.”

The university condemned Huggins’ comments and said in a statement, “The situation is under review and will be addressed by the university and its athletics department.” 

Former Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach, the city’s first openly gay councilmember, told WKRC-TV he’s neither surprised by the comments nor by the fact that they were celebrated on Cunningham’s show.

“I feel sorry for him, he holds that kind of hatred for people that are different in his heart, because that’s clearly where it’s coming from,” said Seelbach. “I get angry because I’m a Catholic man, I am a graduate of Xavier, and I’m gay.”

Seelbach says he believes most Catholics don’t have the same views as Huggins and Cunningham.

“I want him to say that to my face, because there’s a lot of us who are taxpaying regular citizens who happen to be Catholic and gay who don’t appreciate it, and I don’t know if he would have the courage to say it to our face,” said Seelbach.

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