Sasha Cohen, a two-time Olympian U.S. figure skater and three-time World Figure Skating medalist, participated in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" forum on Aug. 14, interacting with hundreds of users and providing her perspective on Russia's recent anti-LGBT violence and legislation.
One user highlighted what they perceived as figure skating's "reputation with sexuality" and inquired as to Cohen's thoughts regarding the struggle LGBT individuals are currently undergoing in Russia. Cohen responded:
I honestly think that social issues should really not be a part of the Games. People should have their rights to be who they want to be and love who they want to love.
The Olympics is about showing what you've done with your life, your dream as an athlete and sharing that with the World. The choices that are being made right now with the Sochi games are really sad and disrespectful to the athletes.
We're all athletes, there should be no one who has to hide who they are. It's kind of unfortunate that it's popped up now and I hope it gets resolved so all athletes regardless of sexual orientation feel welcomed at the Games.
Other U.S. Olympic figure skaters have also been outspoken about Russia'a ambiguous anti-gay "propaganda" laws and insinuation that Olympic athletes found to be violating them would be arrested.
Most notably, internationally-known figure skater Johnny Weir stated earlier this week that he was willing to be arrested at the games if that's what it would take "for people to pay attention and for people to lobby against this law."
Additionally, U.S. distance runner Nick Symmonds, following a victory that earned him a silver medal at the World Track & Field Championships in Moscow today, dedicated his win to his gay and lesbian friends in America. The moment marked the first time that an athlete has openly critiqued Russia's anti-gay legislation on the country's home soil.