Olympic gymnast Sunisa Lee, known as Suni Lee to her fans, is an 18-year-old gymnast who became an international sensation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She became an Olympic All-Around Champion and took home a bronze medal for the uneven bars event.
Although Lee made history as the first Hmong American to ever win a gold medal in the gymnastics All-Around event, she recently revealed that she is receiving “so much hate” for her new relationship with football player Jaylin Smith.
Lee Admits She Has Received ‘So Much Hate’ For New Relationship
Lee, who recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled at Auburn University, showed off her relationship with Smith in a sweet snap of them cuddling on Instagram on December 26, 2021. Smith plays football for the Trojans at the University of Southern California.
Fans couldn’t help but notice that she has her comments disabled on the post. None of her prior posts, nor have any of the posts she has made since then, have had the comments disabled.
In a TikTok video, one fan read between the lines and showed support for the new couple.
In the caption, the fan wrote, “I know that Sunisa will be judged by certain eyes in the Hmong Community because her man is Black. LOVE is LOVE, no matter what race or gender you are. Keep doing you QUEEN.”
Lee herself commented on the clip, writing, “I’ve received so much hate. they support me when it’s beneficial for them never when it comes to my happiness. thank you!”
The fan replied, “I gotchu Queen, and your Kings back. Let’s be the change and grow our Hmong Community.”
However, some fans had their own thoughts on the relationship.
Fans Say The Photo Is ‘A Little Demeaning’
— YBF CHIC (@TheYBF) January 5, 2022
In one of the photos Lee posted, fans questioned the placement of one of Smith’s hands, which looks as though it might be touching her rear end.
“Yes, love is love,” one fan wrote. “But I don’t know about ‘great pic’: why is his hand on her butt in a public photo? That’s not nice; it’s a little demeaning.”
“Yes, absolutely do you!” another fan commented. “But be careful: does this guy really care for you? Looks slightly disrespectful. Don’t end up like Katie Holmes. You deserve the best.”
“I think its his character… hand on her bumper.. classless,” another fan wrote. “Exactly,” someone else replied. “Makes me think he doesn’t respect her as she merits.”
“You’re both young, and should be able to date who you want, as long as you’re treating each other respectfully,” another said. “Other than that, you don’t have to explain yourselves to anyone, especially the peanut gallery who don’t even know you!”
“This is a private matter between the young lady and her man and nobody else’s business,” another said. “We[ll] done Sunisai.”
“You guys look awesome together!” another wrote. “You are also both amazing athletes!!! Screw the haters. Much love from a fellow Trojan. Fight on!”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Suni Lee has encountered racism.
Suni Lee Was ‘So Mad’ After Becoming The Victim Of A L.A. Hate Crime!
As The Blast previously reported, Lee revealed that she was the victim of a racist attack last October. The alleged attack occurred when she was in Los Angeles filming “Dancing with the Stars.”
According to Lee, she was waiting for a ride outside at night with a group of her female friends, all of which were of Asian descent. She said that a car drove by and started shouting racial slurs like “ching chong” and telling the girls to “go back to where you came from.”
One of the people in the car allegedly sprayed her arm with pepper spray before the car drove off.
Lee said that she was “so mad” but felt that “there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off.” She added that she “didn’t do anything to them” because she was concerned about her reputation.
“It’s so hard because I didn’t want to do anything that could get me into trouble,” she said. “I just let it happen.”
It is unclear if Lee reported the incident to authorities, but she is far from the only Asian American to experience harassment based on her race. The coalition “Stop AAPI Hate” said that more than nine thousand similar incidents were reported between March 2020 and June 2021.