Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva wants to spur a movement of equality for women on behalf of men; the two silver medalist is encouraging Latino men in particular to tap into their feminism. It’s a noble attempt, and an even bigger feat to accomplish, considering how infamously machista Latino culture can be.
In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, the Cuban athlete gave some insight on the notion that most people aren’t afraid of change itself, but more so of the aftermath that comes with taking a stand on their socio-political beliefs in relation to feminism.
“A lot of people shy away from that word [feminism],” said the 24-year-old Miami native. “They’re not scared, they just don’t want to make anyone else upset. But I don’t care. People hear that word and they’re like ‘Oh, you want women to be better.’ No. You’re wrong. We want people to be equal.”
Leyva credits being raised around strong women for his forward thinking ways. “I think what helped was the fact that I’ve always been surrounded by very powerful women,” he revealed. “My mom was the one who got me and my sister out of Cuba, by herself. My sister was 12 and I was a year and a half. We went to Peru, and we weren’t even supposed to stay in Peru for long. But we ended up staying for 6 months, so my mom obviously had to go out and look for work, so we could survive. And my sister, being 12 years old, was the one taking care of me.”
And while he’s always been conscious of what gender equality represented, he only started identifying as a feminist later on in life. “I think I realized I was a feminist when I saw the contrary… when I saw people that didn’t have that mentality, that [saw] other people as less. I was like ‘What are you talking about? Everybody is the same.’”