Posts Tagged ‘LGBT youth’

Five Key Messages on The Importance of Out Gay Olympic Athletes

The two out 2018 American Olympians Gus Kenworthy (left) and Adam Rippon

NOTE: Links to additional blogs about out LGBT sports figures and issues are at the bottom of this blog.

The exciting 2018 Winter Olympics just concluded. As a huge figure skating fan and an adult skater myself, I spent way too many hours in front of the television this February. And as a diversity and career development consultant with a deep expertise in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace, I was thrilled to see the positive coverage and celebration of our out gay Olympians.

Most notable among the American athletes were figure skater Adam Rippon, whose brilliant long program in the team event helped secure a bronze medal for the USA in the Team Figure Skating event, and skier Gus Kenworthy, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympics and then a year later came out publicly as gay on the cover of ESPN magazine. And from Canada there is pairs skater Eric Radford who won the bronze medal with his skating partner Megan Duhamel.

So why is this important? I feel it sends five very important messages to struggling LGBT youth and others to boost them in their life journey. Here are the five:
1) Embrace who you are. It is important to feel positive and good about all the aspects of yourself that make you uniquely you. That is one of the important messages of diversity and inclusion – that each and every person in unique and we should each celebrate our own distinct combination of diversity attributes.

2) You are good – there is nothing wrong in being gay or queer. It so sad that some faith traditions, certain politicians and even some families propagate the lie that being queer is sinful, wrong or defective. This can destroy a young person who is struggling to find their place of belonging in the world. Our gay Olympic athletes showed us that they are wonderful good accomplished people fully enjoying their lives as well as their Olympic experience.

3) Don’t set limits – you can achieve and excel. These athletes, who are among the best in the world, did not buy into the lie that being gay was a defect that would hold them back from achieving great things. LGBT people can win gold medals, run companies, be accomplished musicians and actors. Queer kids, like anyone else, should feel free to pursue any career and hobby for which they have passion and talent, with no limits.

It is important to connect with positive supportive people like British Skeleton gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold, a straight ally who wore rainbow laces to show her support for LGBT atheletes.

4) Find and Focus on the supportive community. In addition to being embraced by the media (Adam Rippon became the media darling of the Olympics with his sparking, fun personality and poised interviews,) these gay athletes got their share of hateful nasty tweets and online posts. It is so very sad that there are still so many people who feel the need to judge others and put others down because they are different from them. Instead of getting thrown off by the haters, it is important to find and develop relationships with the supportive community. No one needs hate. Ignore and discard it.

5) Do what you can to share positivity with others. The infectious enthusiasm of the out gay athletes brought joy to their fans. Even Adam Rippon mentioned all the positive feedback he received with people struggling with their sexual orientation who were uplifted by Adam’s appearance at the Olympics and on television. By being who he is and expressing it with such elegance and positiveness, Adam profoundly helped so many others in their life journeys.

I do know of a few well meaning people who say, “why does this person need to be so public about being gay?” The answer: it is because it is who they are, and by fully embracing themselves, they empower others to celebrate their diversity, enjoy life to the fullest, and contribute their best to the human family.

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See my other blogs about out gay figure skaters as well as other sports figures and issues:

Seven Fabulous “Out” Gay Men of Figure Skating

Seven More Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating (and One Bisexual Woman)

Russia, LGBT Rights and the Psychology of Bullying

Fortunate is the NFL Team that Drafts Out Gay Football Standout Michael Sam!

Football, Bullying and LGBT Diversity – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Five Important Ramifications of NBA Pro Basketball Player Jason Collins’ Coming Out

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Blog author Stan Kimer, in addition to training as an adult competitive figure skater himself, is a career development and diversity consultant with a deep expertise in corporate LGBT diversity strategy and training. Please explore the rest of my website (which includes my own figure skating page) and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department.

North Carolina’s HB2 – don’t boycott us, Cyndi Lauper-ize us!

Cyndi Lauper visiting Raleigh's LGBT Center before her June 4th concert.  I recognize the bookshelves in the background!  (Photo courtesy of the Raleigh News and Observer)

Cyndi Lauper visiting Raleigh’s LGBT Center before her June 4th concert. I recognize the bookshelves in the background! (Photo courtesy of the Raleigh News and Observer)


North Carolina has now become quite infamous for passing perhaps the most anti-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) state law in country also referred to as HB2. Provisions of this bill include dictating that transgender individuals must use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate instead of their “current presenting gender” in public facilities, and municipalities and counties are forbidden to have local non-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity. In large part, HB2 was passed to invalidate a recent ordinance in the city of Charlotte that is equivalent to non-discrimination protections currently included in a vast major of Fortune 500 companies’ corporate policies. (Link to my letter in the Raleigh News and Observer about this.)

I truly believe this arcane law was passed out of fear, misunderstanding and /or hatred of gay and transgender people. I also believe the law is meant as political fodder to divide the people of North Carolina and pit us against one another. Do check out a blog I wrote earlier this year, “Why do we all need someone to hate on – and now in NC it’s transgender people.”

In response, many music performing artists like Bruce Springsteen have boycotted North Carolina and cancelled their performances. They all articulate their displeasure with this law and their unwillingness to travel to a state which discriminates so blatantly against a segment of their population. I do agree that these cancellations raise the visibility of the issue and that the economic impact may drive our leaders to reconsider their actions. However, these artists are also punishing the many fair-minded people and the LGBT citizens of North Carolina who enjoy their music and want to attend their concerts. Now if more events that may appeal to those who support HB2 (like the NBA all-star game or NASCAR events) decide to boycott, that may really raise the visibility of this issue.

So what is a viable alternative? Do what Cyndi Lauper did!

Instead of cancelling her concert, she came early and met with LGBT youth at Raleigh’s LGBT Center. She discussed the impact of HB2 with them and expressed that there are many many adults who love and care about them as full equal human beings despite what they may be hearing from our government leaders. And then she proceeded to donate the concert’s profits toward working to have HB2 overturned. Quote from Ms. Lauper, “I will be donating all of the profits from the show to Equality NC’s efforts to repeal HB2 and I am proud of my manager and agent for joining me in this effort by donating their commissions from the show to this vital effort.”

I just know having a heart to heart chat with a mega-star like Cyndi Lauper is an experience that will remain with those teens the rest of their lives, and that her donated funds will really help Equality NC’s efforts significantly. Read the details in this Raleigh News and Observer article, “Singer Cyndi Lauper meets with LGBT youth in Raleigh to talk to HB2.”

Though I respect artists and groups who are boycotting North Carolina due to HB2, I encourage them to perhaps think different and more creatively. Don’t desert us and isolate us in our time of need. Instead, come be part of the solution, and consider Cyndi Lauper-izing us instead!

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