Condemning homophobia, India’s first openly gay athlete Dutee Chand has called for allowing LGBT+ people to live without ‘persecution or fear of death’.
From facing criticism from her family after announcing her gay relationship, from attending the Queen’s Baton here to shedding light on homosexuality in Commonwealth countries with British synchronized diver and Olympic gold medalist Tom Daly, life is a complete The circle has arrived for Dutee.
Dutee sent a powerful message against homophobia as she wore the LGBTQIA+ flag at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Dutee told PTI, “LGBT+ athletes should be made to feel safe and comfortable, as they feel like themselves without fear of harassment or death.”
Language was a barrier, but spending a few moments with Daly boosted Dutee’s confidence.
“He taught me some steps while the music was playing loudly. it was great fun. I also got a chance to meet Prince Charles,” said Dutee.
“I didn’t talk much because I barely speak English but he told me ‘don’t be afraid’ and ‘I’m your biggest follower.’ It really boosted my confidence as we did some gigs. Such a lovely memory.” The Odisha athlete, hailing from an un-described village in Chaka Gopalpur, accompanied Daly and four others in the final leg of the Queen’s Baton at the Alexander Stadium.
“I had to face a lot of mental torture, there were some who supported me. Most of my people stopped talking to me,'” Dutee recalled. This will be her first Commonwealth Games for the Asian Games double silver medalist. She will run in the 100m dash and 4x100m relay along with her state mates Sarbani Nanda, Hima Das and NS Simi.
“I didn’t know about the LGBTQ+ movement when I first acknowledged my relationship status. People ridiculed me and told me that I was ‘mentally ill’ and used abusive language in public.
“I had sleepless nights, but now things have changed for the better. I never thought that one day this would happen and I would be invited as the brand ambassador of Commonwealth Games. It couldn’t have been bigger than this. Now everything has stopped and the same people come up to me and show respect.” About two months ago, Dutee received an invitation from the Birmingham Games to be the brand ambassador and join Daly, a four-time Commonwealth gold medalist.
“It was such an honor and IOA allowed me to be a part of the march. It will be a moment to cherish forever,” said Dutee.
During Thursday’s opening ceremony, the 28-year-old diving star made a powerful “historic” statement while unfurling the Pride flag.
Daly also posted a picture with LGBT athletes from across the Commonwealth, including Dutee.
Dutee further said that she is ready to compete in the 100m in Birmingham.
“I am looking forward to competing in sprints and relays as well. Everything is fine,'” signed off an excited Dutee.
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