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Runner Nick Symmonds dedicates world track silver medal in Russia to his gay, lesbian friends

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Nick Symmonds celebrates his silver medal.
Nick Symmonds celebrates his silver medal.
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Two days ago, I criticized American middle distance runner Nick Symmonds for saying he was a gay ally, yet would remain silent about Russia's anti-gay laws while competing at the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow. But after taking the silver medal in the men's 800 meters, Symmonds was not silent, telling Russia's R-Sport he was dedicating his medal to his LGBT friends back home:

"As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them," he told R-Sport after running a 1:43.55 at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. "Whether you're gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there's anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested."

"I respect Russians' ability to govern their people," he said Tuesday. "I disagree with their laws. I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules."

The fact that Symmonds, 29, said this to Russian media, thereby placing himself at risk of violating the new laws outlawing "gay propaganda," is awesome. I am glad that Symmonds changed his mind about being silent in Moscow.

Update: This is from BuzzFeed:

In an email to BuzzFeed, Symmonds explains what made him change his mind about speaking out on Russian soil.

"I am still walking a fine line here in Russia, attempting to be respectful of their laws and their culture, but at the same time trying to lend my voice to the movement for gay rights. I would say what inspired me to be a bit more vocal was a video I saw on CNN the other day. This video shows two Russian women kissing in a street and a deranged lunatic running up and pushing them down. That dipshit really pissed me off. It gives me great pleasure to imagine him reading my words in a newspaper and to know that his actions singlehandedly irked me enough to break my silence here in Russia."

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