Obama Appoints Openly Gay Delegates To Sochi Olympics, Including Billie Jean King

billie-jean-king-obamaLegendary lesbian and noted tennis ace Billie Jean King will be one of two openly gay delegates representing the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics, which may easily be interpreted as some Olympic shade against virulently anti-gay Russia.

An old friend of the Commander-in-Chief, King received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have all declined to attend the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, marking the first time since 2000 that the prez, First Lady, VP or a former prez won’t be involved.

Among other world leaders not attending the Olympics this year are French President Francoise Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck.

In a statement, the White House claims Obama doesn’t have the time to travel to Sochi, but that the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States.”

Openly gay two-time Olympic medalist in ice hockey Caitlin Cahow will also be a part of the delegation, as will former Olympic figure skater and famed grizzly bear fighter Brian Boitano.

Boitano, who has skated around discussing his personal life, offered his thoughts on NBA player Jason Collins‘s coming-out earlier this year. “It seems like it’s been a freeing thing for him,” Boitano told NBC’s Off the Cuff. “You know what, everybody’s got their own path, and everybody has to do what they have to do.”

Meanwhile, King, winner of 12 Grand Slam titles though never an Olympian, became the first prominent openly gay female professional athlete after she was infamously outed in 1981. An advocate for LGBT rights, King has been observing Russia and its anti-gay propaganda law, which has been a source of controversy in the lead-up to the Games.

The 70-year-old laments not being “21 again and in the Olympics” herself, but hopes athletes will follow the examples of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who defiantly raised their fists in protest of racial discrimination at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

“I think there’s watershed moments, benchmarks,” King said back in September. “I would hope the majority of the athletes would speak out. It’s a great platform.”

What USA Today calls perhaps “the most significant delegation the United States has ever sent to an Olympic Games” will also include former Homeland Security secretary and current University of California President Janet Napolitano; U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul; White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors; Deputy Secretary of State William Burns; and speed skating Olympic medalists Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.

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  • jimbryant

    Why aren’t there any openly gay male athletes? Is Obama afraid to appoint openly gay men?

    He’s a flop of a President who appears to be afraid of openly gay men.

  • Steve Rider

    Ha ha to Emperor Putin. America thinks you’re a jerk.

  • KiraNerysRules

    He has appointed openly-gay, male officials for our country in various capacities. So, take a seat, please.

  • jar

    Why send anyone at all? That would make a better statement. This just seems like tokenism at play in an effort to save NBC’s behind. Let’s associate as many gay athletes as we can to these games so that will take the heat off of the network and sponsors.
    I also take issue with the notion of Billie Jean as a legendary lesbian. Billie Jean has never been at the forefront of the fight for gay rights. By her own admission, she felt a lot of self-hate and even after being outed in 1981, she still tried to pass it off as a mistake. She remained married for another three years and did not come to accept herself until she was in her fifties.
    I have a great deal of respect for BJK. She almost single-handedly created professional women’s tennis and professional women’s sports. There is no American tennis player more deserving of being honored by naming the USTA center after her. But, as Joan Baez said when asked where Bob Dylan was at a political protest back in the day: What do you mean, where’s Bob? Bob was never there. When it comes to the gay rights struggle, Billie Jean was never there. I was there during those times and distinctly remember her absence and silence. That does not make her a bad person (it was her choice), but let’s not rewrite history.

  • 2eo

    @jar: What’s happening is that the calls for a boycott are working brilliantly and these punitive actions are simply damage limitation exercises, and poor ones at that.

    It’s really come up as an enormous victory for the good people calling for a boycott, it really is working. It’s good to be in the minority here calling for a boycott and it in fact being very superb in the real world, I’d gloat but to be honest I already knew it would work.

  • AuntieChrist

    @2eo: I doubt that you will read this or even care one wit if you do…But while in South America I got malaria, that in conjunction with my HIV has had an impact on my health, so in the future if you want to continue to put me in the same class as Jim, Dixie, Fagburn, Sohobod, Avenger and a host of others who the brain train didn’t just abandon but actually ran over…Do a bit more research so that your rapier wit can cut all the more deeper…There is nothing I enjoy more than being the ant under your magnifying glass, after all tormenting those that you consider to be lesser beings is your shtick, is it not?

  • Cam

    So it is the Winter Olympics, which weighs HEAVILY towards Europe and North America and so far you have the two largest economies in the EU not sending their leaders, and now the largest economy in North America not sending theirs.

    The backlash against Russia is working, keep on the pressure. My ONLY problem with what Obama did, is that I thought the White House Press office statement was a cop out.

    “According to the White House, Obama’s schedule does not allow him to travel to Sochi. “President Obama is extremely proud of our U.S. athletes and looks forward to cheering them on from Washington as they compete in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said in an email to Metro Weekly. “He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America – diversity, determination, and teamwork.”

    B.S. If you are going to make a statement for rights, then make it. Don’t have your press office say that you couldn’t go because you were busy.

  • jar

    @2eo: Agreed. It has been my position that the best response would be for all of the athletes to boycott hte opening and closing ceremonies, fly in to participate in their sport and then immediately fly back out. This allows them to compete, but also would take the excitement of the Olympic experience away from the Russian government and deny it as much money as possible.

  • iMort

    Boycott or attend being openly and proudly gay, both will probably will be equally effective or not. Because of the Russian legislation there will be plenty of attention given to gay rights, and lots of people will continue to say they are tired of hearing about it. Sadly many conservatives admire Russia’s stance.

  • 2eo

    @AuntieChrist: I had a quick look, these islamic [email protected] scum deserve to be put to death. Their religion is hateful and violent, and the moderates do not actually exist in an capacity.

    Not sure what it has to do with President Obama of the United States sending delegates to Sochi, considering as you may not be aware the United States is not the United Kingdom, and to my knowledge Sochi is not in the United Kingdom either.

    Oh wait… I get it, you thought you were going to catch me out after I defended my nation after you called my nation of origin “worth less than the USA in terms of people”, you thought I’d condone the actions of a useless, violent religion because it is practiced in my country of origin.

    Aww bless, it’s almost like I saw through this rather shallow attempt at trolling and have called it what it is and exactly as I see it, because my worldview and opinions are consistent.

    Unless you think I was one of the islamic youth that did the assault, and also managed to drive 480 miles in the space of 7 hours, while working.

  • 2eo

    @AuntieChrist: In fact if I remember rightly there was quite an important event in US history where they did not wank to be part of the British Establishment anymore, if you were American you may have heard of the Revolutionary War. Quite a big deal over there if I remember correctly, there’s loads of articles on Wikipedia if you fancy a quick read up on the history of the USA.

  • AuntieChrist

    @2eo: No I just saw it and was not aware of that sort of violence over there.I felt bad for that kid and didn’t know if you had seen it. I did not mean to imply anything.

  • AuntieChrist

    @2eo: In fact I was rather hoping that we could bury the proverbial hatchet. I offer my apologies for any offense and would like to get past this…An olive branch as it were.

  • modernfamilyfan

    What? No demands that Brian Boitano come out?

  • Spike

    @jimbryant: Blahblahblah I hate Obama blahblahblah Obama hates gays blahblahblah Obama is homophobic blahblahblah Obama is a failure blahblahblah I’m JimBryant.

    It’s the same predictable rant everyday.

  • hotshot70

    lol yet another rant by @jimbryant. I think USA should justt not go to Olympics. Why help their economy?

  • Fitz

    I don’t think we (queers) belong there at all. I don’t see what good it can do. I don’t see any indication of things getting better (at all). These tactics of sending successful upright people who happen to be queer is lame and pathetic.

  • jimbryant

    What exactly is Billie Jean King’s role? To have a good time? This whole delegation is a joke that Obama designed to prop up his failing Presidency. He is using spin to disguise his lack of a call for a boycott.

  • sejjo

    @jimbryant: Well he’s not afraid of Tony Kushner, or David Geffen.

  • jwtraveler

    I hope Billie Jean gets a chance to give Putin a good underhand shot in the [email protected]jimbryant: Anyone with as much bitterness as you must have suffered a great deal of pain in his life. You truly have my sympathy. I hope that one day you’ll be able to move past it and learn to enjoy life.

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