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Gay Olympian seeks to break stereotypes

Sun 30 May 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News

Blake Skjellerup Out speed skater Blake Skjellerup says gay athletes are still stereotyped and predicts New Zealand will not see an openly-gay All Black before this Rugby World Cup, or the next. The Kiwi Winter Olympian came out this month, in the hope he can join the likes of Gareth Thomas and Matthew Mitcham, in being an example and making it easier for young athletes and young people in general to come out. In a piece for, the 24-year-old says he has no doubts that if he was an All Black, he would be stereotyped by a large percentage of New Zealand's population. "I have lived homophobia and I know I would be defined as a skirt-wearing pansy. I came out to break the stereotype of gay men and gay athletes. We can be anybody. We are anybody," he says. "My friends, family and team know me; they know I don't wear a skirt. I am no less of a man because I am gay, but in my opinion New Zealand does not see that." Skjellerup does not think there will be an openly-gay All Black anytime soon. "Society is changing but not at the rate in which it should. There is still very apparent discrimination against gay people." The athlete says although dealing with being gay made him an angry teenager at some points and hiding his sexuality is something he now regrets, as an openly-gay man and athlete he feels much greater and more significant than ever before. "I was not going to be beaten and I did not let myself be pushed around," he says. "I know there are kids out there who will be dealing with what I went through. My advice to them is to never give up. I never gave up on my Olympic dream, being gay was not my dream, it's who I am. Do not be afraid to be who you really are. Live life like you're no different to anyone else, if anyone tells you any different, they're wrong."    

Credit: Daily New staff

First published: Sunday, 30th May 2010 - 11:05am

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