Amazin LeThi is a former natural competitive bodybuilder and founder of the Amazin LeThi Foundation, an international organization that empowers HIV-positive children and homeless LGBTQ youth by cultivating emotional intelligence and long-term career development opportunities through sports and creative educational programs while ending social stigma and discrimination.
At age 6 she became a bodybuilder and was competing in natural bodybuilding competitions and various other sports from track and field to horse riding as a teenager. As a fitness coach Amazin has worked with Olympic athletes and is the author of numerous health and fitness books.
Amazin’s background as an athlete, fitness author and entertainment personality led her to be recognized by the Vietnamese American National Gala Awards for her contribution in the entertainment and fitness industry. She is also the global ambassador for Vietnam Relief Services.
Q: In the Asian-American community, how can Athlete Allies help spread LGBTQ acceptance?
A: Athletes have a platform through sport to create social change. Sport is a universal language that everyone understands; it brings people and communities together. For an athlete ally to spread the message of respect, inclusion and LGBTQ equality in the Asian-American community it is important that many more Asian athletes step forward from every sport in support of equality.
Fans look up to athletes so it’s crucial that athletes from my community raise their voice that LGBTQ discrimination towards not just pro Asian Athletes but Asian school children participating in sport is unacceptable.
If an athlete is ever judged it should be from their performance on the playing field because an athlete’s gender identity or sexuality has nothing to do with how they play the game.
I’m honored to be the first Vietnamese athlete to become part of Athlete Ally and I look forward to spreading the message of acceptance not just in the Vietnamese community but also in the entire Asian community with Athlete Ally.
Q: Have you seen LGBTQ rights/visibility advance in your sport?
Bodybuilding is a very unique sport many people don’t know this but in 1989 professional bodybuilder Bob Paris became the world’s first male professional athlete, in any sport, to come out in the media while still competing as a pro athlete. It was a very brave move of him because the LGBTQ equality movement didn’t exist in sport then. When he came out there were no organizations like Athlete Ally to give him support when he received homophobic backlash.
Unfortunately since Bob Paris came out there has been no advancement in LGBTQ equality in my sport nor has any other professional bodybuilder male or female felt they were able to safely come out in the media. The sport of bodybuilding is a very macho sport and as many athletes across all different sports are coming out from Jason Collins to Michael Sam, the competitive world of bodybuilding is one of the last closet doors where pro athletes still feel they can’t come out in a safe and supportive environment.
Q: Is this topic discussed often in the fitness world?
A: LGBTQ issues aren’t widely discussed in the fitness industry and aren’t discussed at all in the professional bodybuilding media or community. For acceptance to occur and for athletes to feel they are in a supportive environment to come out this discussion needs to happen not just in the media but also by competitive fitness and bodybuilding federations. Athletes need to know that if they do come out that they will be supported not just by other fellow athletes but also by their own sporting federations.
Professional bodybuilding needs to fall in line with other pro sports and sign the Athlete Ally pledge. My goal as an Athlete Ally ambassador will be to encourage other bodybuilders to speak out to support LGBTQ equality and to encourage fitness and bodybuilding federations to sign the Athlete Ally pledge.
Q: How do you hope being involved will help?
A; I’m excited to become an Athlete Ally ambassador because it means I’m able to further amplify the message of respect, inclusion and equality particularly within the bodybuilding and fitness industry for our fellow LGBTQ athletes
I believe that sport is a human right and as part of the athletic community I have a responsibility to uphold the value of inclusiveness to countries and organizations that display anti-gay attitudes towards LGBTQ athletes, like that of Russia at the winter Olympics because every athlete deserves to participate in a safe and nurturing athletic environment without fear of violence and discrimination because of either their gender identity or sexuality.
The message of inclusion is too important not to share and I look forward to working towards this change with Athlete Ally.