American non-binary skater Alana Smith said their goal leading up to the Olympics “was to be happy and to be a visual representation for humans like me.”
Although Smith placed last in their event, Women’s street, on Monday, they wrote in a touching post later today that “for the first time in my life I’m proud of the person I have work”.
Smith, 20, has been open in the past about a teenage suicide attempt and said after competing in the Olympics they were thankful they were alive.
“I wanted to get out of there knowing that I was UN APOLOGIST myself and that I was really smiling,” Smith, who lives in Fort Worth, TX, wrote on Instagram. “The feeling in my heart says I did it. Last night I spent some time on the balcony, I’m not religious or I have no one / anything to talk to. Last night, I thanked the one who gave me the chance not to leave this world the night I lay down in the middle of the road. I feel happy to be alive and I feel like I am supposed to be here for the first time in a very long time. One day or another I walked out of this happy and alive … That’s all I ever asked for. “
In Monday’s competition, Smith made a few mistakes and didn’t complete any of his more difficult moves, but they smiled throughout their turn. At one point, they proudly held up their skateboard, where they had their pronouns written, “they / them”.
Fans on the internet gathered around them and celebrated the historical portrayal of non-binary people.
LGBTQ Outsports sports website reported that some commentators from various networks misinterpreted Smith by using incorrect pronouns when discussing Smith and their performance. Smith also shared videos on their Instagram Stories taken by supporters correcting commentators as they watched the Olympics.
NBC Sports, which shares a parent company with NBC News, apologized on Tuesday for the streaming coverage that battered Smith.
“NBC Sports is committed to – and understands the importance – of using correct pronouns for everyone on our platforms,” the network said in a statement, according to a press release from LGBTQ rights group GLAAD. . “Although our commentators used the correct pronouns in our coverage, we did run an international feed which was not produced by NBCUniversal and which took a beating on Olympian Alana Smith. We regret this mistake and apologize to Alana and our viewers. “
Smith made a name for themselves at just 12 years old, when they won a silver medal at the X Games in Barcelona in 2013. Also at age 12, they became the first person competing in the women’s category to win a McTwist, which is a front flip that requires a 540 degree rotation.
This is the first Olympic Games in history to feature skateboarding, with 16 athletes traveling to Tokyo to represent the United States. Smith qualified for third Olympic place in the women’s street category after competing at the World Skateboarding Championships in 2019, according to Dew Tour, which hosts international skateboarding competitions.
Smith is one of more than 160 openly LGBTQ athletes competing in this year’s Olympics and one of at least three openly non-binary or transgender athletes, according to Outsports. Quinn, a midfielder for the Canadian women’s soccer team who bears her first name only, is also non-binary. Laurel Hubbard, a trans woman, will compete in the 87 kilograms and over (192 pounds and over) super heavyweight category on August 2.
Some viewers wrote on Twitter that Quinn, who is also the first openly trans person to compete in the Olympics, had also been roughed up by commentators.
GLAAD also criticized the International Olympic Committee’s lists for Quinn and Smith, which use the athletes’ correct pronouns but classify them as “female.”
In response, GLAAD calls on journalists and the IOC to accurately recognize the gender of athletes in all their coverage and communications.
“The Olympics coverage guide we published with Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo has the most up-to-date terminology and recommendations – but when reporters and networks fail, the best thing to do is sincerely apologize. , re-educate and follow best practices on the move. forward, ”said Mary Emily O’Hara, GLAAD’s rapid response manager, in a statement, according to a press release.
Smith concluded his Instagram post by thanking everyone who supported them.
“I can’t wait to skate again for love, not just for a contest,” they wrote. “Which is crazy considering that a contest helped me find my love for it again.”
If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, please call National lifeline for suicide prevention at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/ressources for additional resources.
To pursue NBC output on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram