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1996: Olympic torch skipped Atlanta suburb that condemned gay people


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With the Olympic games in Sochi rapidly approaching, much of the conversation has focused on Russia's terrible anti-LGBT laws. Despite these terrible laws, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are still starting in the country this week. This comes eighteen years after Olympic officials refused to allow the torch to travel through an Atlanta suburb because of its refusal to repeal a resolution condemning gay people. 

I was reminded of this because I was a nine-year-old kid growing up in Cobb County, GA, and my family had to visit neighboring Fulton County to watch the Olympic torch pass.

According to a 1996 article in the New York Times: The "decision to bypass the county was the second action by the [Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games] in response to widespread condemnation of the county commissioners' non-binding resolution rejecting" gay people. The first was a decision to move the volleyball events from Cobb County to the University of Georgia in Athens. 

We've made a lot of progress for LGBT equality in the years since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, yet the 2014 Games are being held in a country where coming out or holding a rainbow flag renders someone a criminal, and LGBT people are targeted and attacked. 

To learn more about what's happening in Russia, visit and check out GLAAD's recently released Sochi Olympics Playbook.


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