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Olympic Pride House: Medalist says “help sport come out.”

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Olympic bronze medalist Marion Lay speaks to spectators at the opening of Pride House Vancouver

“Many of the athletes you see at these games,” says Marion Lay, “are trying to live a hidden life at the same time they’re trying to be the best they can be.”

Lay knows first hand what it’s like to be a closeted Olympic athlete.  A bronze medal swimmer at the 1968 Olympics – which took place a year before Canada legalized homosexuality – Lay kept her sexual orientation a secret throughout her competitive career.  “I was afraid that I would let my whole team down,” she says, “because everybody would be focusing on ‘Marion’s a lesbian’ versus our athletic prowess.”

Over 40 years later, it sometimes seems as though little has changed in sport, even though society as a whole has grown more accepting of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. Says Lay:

Not only are individuals in sport in the closet but also sport as a whole is totally in the closet. Even if somebody does come out to their teammates it’s a total secret among those teammates as well.  We need to help athletes and coaches and officials to come out and make it safe – because it’s just right now so homophobic, and there’s so much fear that, first of all, your teammates will say that you’re a bunch of dykes or that you’re sissies like faggots or whatever. And also you have a fear that you’ll be kicked off the team or just not chosen for the team.

Speaking to the crowd at Pride House Vancouver’s opening celebration, Lay pleaded with spectators to help sport come out.

“What do you want me to do?” yelled someone from the crowd.

“Just be out there,” She replied.  “Talk about how important it is to be yourself.”

Out gay artist performs official Richmond Olympic theme

The City of Richmond–home to the Olympic speed skating oval–has its own Olympic theme song, and the performer is out gay artist Matthew David. The investment banker-turned professional musician got his start singing in church as a child.  He went on to study music and theater in London’s West End. Here is the video for his Richmond Olympic theme song, “Today.”

Matthew will be doing a meet n’ greet at Pride House Vancouver on Saturday from 3-4pm.

Welcome to the Gayborhood

It was a beautiful, sunny day in Vancouver today, so I stepped outside Pride House Van to grab a few photos of the neighborhood for you.

Vancouver's famous gay book store Little Sister's.

Ken Boesem of Little Sister's in the rainbow section.

Melriches coffee house, next door to the Pride House celebration venue.

Alex and Amanda are ready to whip you up a java at Melriches.

Melriches has been getting into the Olympic spirit

The informal survey of where visitors are from.

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Written by heatherkitching

February 16, 2010 at 9:20 PM

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