This week I talked with Anna Aagenes, Executive Director of GO! Athletes, which is the first national educational organization dedicated to LGBT student athletes. GO! (Generation Out) Athletes connects current and former LGBT student-athletes and allies at high-school, collegiate and post-graduate levels to educate and empower future generations of LGBT athletes. They also serve as a united voice to encourage schools to create safer spaces for LGBT athletes. GO! Athletes is also dedicated to educating coaches, administrators and fans to foster athletic communities that are accepting of all athletes regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
GO! Athletes has created the #Out4Olympics campaign in response to the public outcry over Russia's anti-LGBT policies. I talked to Aagenes about the importance of this campaign and her spin on LGBT issues. When asked about her spin on the Sochi Olympics, given the backdrop of Russia's anti-LGBT laws, she stated:
It's been very disheartening to see the stories of brutal harassment, attacks, and the laws that are obviously really discriminatory against the LGBT community and those who have traveled there for the Olympic Games. We began a campaign last year, which we call "Out4Olympics." ... We've done grassroots campaigns before, but this is really LGBTQ athletes supporting fellow athletes. Some of us have the privilege of being able to come out, and those who do, we hope, can show support and solidarity to those in Russia, those traveling to Russia and those who can't come out yet or don't feel comfortable coming out yet. It's really been exciting to see high-school students, college students, coaches, even professional players, some of them, utilizing the campaign. We have a Twitim, which means you can change you profile picture on Twitter and Facebook, and what we're going to do with that is compile that into a culmination at the end of the games.
Anna Aagenes was captain of the University of Pennsylvania Women's Track and Field and Cross Country Team, and she was a school record holder in three relay events and an NCAA Regional qualifier in the 800-meter and 1500-meter events. Currently she is the District Office Director for openly gay Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims. Feb. 28 will conclude GO! Athletes' #Out4Olympics campaign, and all photos will be compiled into a book to be presented to the USOC and the IOC.
For more information, visit goathletes.org.
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