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The Olympic games in Sochi are approaching quickly, and all eyes are on Russia. With many focused on the recent criminalization of LGBTI “propaganda,” and a highly publicized wave of hate crimes against LGBTI youth, the main-stream media has promised to shed light on the status of LGBTI rights in Russia during the Olympic games in Sochi. We will also be making efforts of our own to assure there is a progressive, diverse, and productive conversation about LGBTI rights taking place while the world celebrates in a country with a proven record of discriminating against its LGBTI citizens.

It Gets Better Project & Uprising of Love are teaming up with a number of the country’s leading LGBTI organizations to host a series of Hangouts during an Olympics inspired LGBTI Rights week. These Hangouts will engage the larger community in discussion about the importance of acceptance in sports while also discussing LGBTI rights generally.

COME HANGOUT - LIVE NOW!
- Hangouts on Air Schedule Below -

Jan

21

Understanding the Situation in Russia

10am PST / 1pm EST
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Representatives from each of the week’s hangout will come together to discuss the goals for the week and what we have to look forward to. Each participant will also take a moment to send a message directly to Russia’s LGBTI youth which will then be translated into Russian and sent out via social media and email as part of the It Gets Better Project’s “You Are Beautiful” campaign.

Confirmed Panelists:
Ted Farley: Executive Director, It Gets Better Project
Chiara Reali: Director, Le Cose Cambiano (Italian affiliate of It Gets Better Project)
Carter Gibson: Google+ Personality
Danny Greene, Uprising of Love Campaign Manager

Jan

22

How Athletes Are Advocating for LGBT Equality

12pm PST / 3pm EST
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Outsports founder, Cyd Zeigler, will moderate a diverse panel of athletes to discuss the experience for LGBTI athletes in sports, the hostile locker room environment and what, if any, lessons from these experiences can be applied to a movement towards a more accepting environment in Russia.

Confirmed Panelists:
Ben Cohen: Founder, StandUp Foundation; former England rugby player
Wade Davis: Executive Director, You Can Play Project; former NFL player
Layshia Clarendon: Openly gay WNBA player
Cyd Zeigler: Founder, Outsports
Anna Aagenes: Executive Director, GO! Athletes
Jason Collins: Openly gay NBA player

Jan

23

The Role Media Plays in the LGBT Movement

11am PST / 2pm EST
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By examining the benefit of positive portrayals of LGBTI individuals in the media, we will highlight the devastating impact of Russia’s anti propaganda laws criminalizing the positive discussion of LGBTI people in the public sphere. Conversation will also focus on the need for more positive representations of LGBTI people of color in the media.

Confirmed Panelists:
Andrew Rannells: Actor (HBO’s Girls, The New Normal)
Noah Michelson: Executive Editor of Gay Voices at The Huffington Post
Wilson Cruz: GLAAD's National Spokesperson
Eric Sasson: Columnist at Wall Street Journal
Janina Gavankar: Actor (Arrow, True Blood, The L Word)
Michelle Garcia: Managing Editor, The Advocate

Jan

24

Spreading Positive Messages to LGBT Youth Across the Globe

11am PST / 2pm EST
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With the impetus of Russia’s anti-gay law aimed at preventing youth from hearing positive representations of what it means to be LGBTI, we will explore the need for support of this vulnerable population both in the US and elsewhere. Perspectives from organizations promoting mental health and messages of hope and inspiration will be crossed with real life accounts from student leaders.

Confirmed Panelists:
Alaine Jolicoeur: Advisory Board Member, Campus Pride
Ted Farley: Executive Director, It Gets Better Project
Anthony Nicodemo: Openly gay high school basketball coach
Shane Windmeyer: Executive Director, Campus Pride
Romeo Jackson: Advisory Board Member, Campus Pride
Ashley Mardell: Trevor Project Advisory Council
Tina Dyer: Positive Coaching Alliance

Jan

27

The Trans Experience in the Media, Sports and Schools

11am PST / 2pm EST
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The goal of this discussion is to talk about the Trans* experience in the media, in sport and in schools today.

Confirmed Panelists:
Kye Allums: Founder, I Am Enough Project; first openly trans NCAA Division 1 athlete
Eli Erlick: Executive Director, Trans Student Equality Resources
Fallon Fox: First openly trans athlete in MMA
Tiq Milan: Senior Media Strategist, GLAAD
Steven Alexander: Trans High School Coach
Kylar Broadus: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; first openly trans person to testify in front of US Senate

Jan

28

Joining Together in an Uprising of Love

1pm PST / 4pm EST
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To end the week’s conversation, Uprising of Love will discuss their initiative and the larger conversation about LGBTI rights. During the Hangout, Melissa Etheridge will perform her song and a number of other artists and celebrities will join the Hangout, referencing their support and connection to the campaign.

Confirmed Panelists:
Melissa Etheridge: co-founder Uprising of Love, award-winning singer-songwriter
Dustin Lance Black: co-founder Uprising of Love, Academy-Award winning writer
Bruce Cohen: co-founder Uprising of Love, Academy-Award winning producer
Danny Greene, Uprising of Love Campaign Manager
3-5 Particiapants from Melissa Etheridge’s fan club