Grayson, Davis, Aagenes, Burke, Estevez and out WWE Superstar Darren Young
In February, the WWE hosted a "Be A STAR" event at a middle school in Orlando, Florida. WWE Superstars and Divas spoke alongside representatives from You Can Play (Wade Davis and Patrick Burke) about the impact that bullying has had on their lives and why kids shouldn't use hurtful language toward their piers. The WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment, is a professional wrestling organization.
2014 NCAA Convention
LGBTQ Inclusion & Religion: Seeking Common Ground in Sports
By: Josh Sanders
Religion continues to be one of the most challenging and often painful topics for the LGBTQ community and others to have regarding inclusion and equality. Opposing viewpoints along with the churches’ failure to respond in a loving and inclusive way has left many people with a bad taste in their mouth and prevents effective dialogue. This year, Karen Morrison, Director of Gender Inclusion for the NCAA, and Pat Griffin decided to have an honest and open conversation about moving beyond the disagreements and seeking common ground for the LGBTQ athlete within collegiate sports.
The event consisted of a panel of four including myself sharing our experiences and beliefs for seeking common ground within collegiate sports for the LGBTQ athlete and religious communities that may differ in belief regarding the “sin” of same-sex orientation. The panel included:
Nevin Caple – Co-founder and Executive Director, Br[arche the Silence Campaign
Lisa Howe- Executive Director, Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce
Lynn Thompson- Director of Athletics, Bethune-Cookman University
Josh Sanders- GO! Athletes, Sports Ministry
Pat Griffin- Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst moderated the event.
Those attending the convention included athletic directors, administrators, coaches, and student delegates. Although diverse, each panel member shared stories with common themes focusing on inclusion and common ground.
Nevin discussed inclusive programming focused on changing behaviors through education, championing respect and professionalism, identifying role models for the student-athlete and partnership with other campus organizations.
Lisa also discussed inclusive programming as a way religious institution can achieve institutional values and missions. She also spoke about the power of education.
Lynn spoke about a coach’s responsibility to develop their athletes’ character. He emphasized coaching as a ministry and the inclusive nature of God. I spoke about the power of sport to unite and inspire all people, and the importance of understanding the language of opposing viewpoints. After the panel spoke, attendees participated in round table discussions about working towards inclusion and common ground on their respective campuses.
For me, the convention was a step forward for a challenging conversation. The true testimony of success will be actions leading to inclusion for not only LGBTQ athletes but also all LGBTQ students within religious based colleges and universities. I believe we at GO! Athletes have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the conversation. The power of sport gives each of us a platform to inspire and unite people. I encourage each of us to live out our faith and hold true to our convictions. Be true to yourself and love thy neighbor even if your neighbor hates or disagrees with you. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is inclusive. He values each of us for who we are holistically and gives us a full life. All we need to do is live it.
Holden's story originally ran on OutSports.com.
The Kenyon College men's lacrosse team already knew Holden Richards was gay during fall ball last year. News of the sophomore midfielder's surprising coming out had drifted through the team quickly the previous spring and summer, but the players still didn't quite know how to handle it.
It was a practice last autumn that broke the ice. Richards was locked up in a battle with another teammate during one-on-ones, a healthy dose of body-checking and aggressive play between the two. As the afternoon waned, Richards' teammate took a tough shot that went wide of the goal.
"Suck my dick!" The teammate hollered. It was something the rest of the team had heard from him before, but it was the first time he'd said it with a gay teammate within earshot, and it had never been seemingly voiced directly at Richards.
The team held their collective breath not knowing what to do. Ignore it? Stop practice and chastise the player?
Richards took matters into his own hands. He turned to his teammate, smiled and shook his head.
"No thank you."
The entire team erupted as Richards jogged the other direction. Gay or not, he was still one of the guys.
* * *
When Richards arrived at Kenyon College from faraway Beaverton, Ore., he was struggling. Kenyon is a private liberal arts college smack in the middle of Ohio, slightly closer to Columbus than Cleveland. It's a religious institution, founded 200 years ago as a seminary and now affiliated with the Episcopal Church.
He had wrestled with his sexual orientation throughout high school, the product of a Catholic household and graduate of Valley Catholic High School. He had attended Nazareth College, a former Roman Catholic institution in Upstate New York, before transferring to Kenyon.
"It was beaten into me every single day of my life that being gay was wrong," Richards said. "Growing up in a Catholic High School was depressing for me. I was chubby, fat and depressed. What else are you supposed to be? You're taught all your life that if you're gay you're going to hell.
"It took until last year to realize it's all a load of bullshit."
It was at Kenyon that he finally opened up to a friend about being gay. The friend directed him to a therapist who could help him navigate his feelings and reconcile them with his past.
"They saved my life. I was on the brink of suicide. Everyone expected me to be the all-American boy, the guy who gets good grades and is the All-state athlete and is supposed to get the prettiest girls."
Truth is, he did get the prettiest girls. He played the part as best he could, making out with girls in front of his friends to keep his cover rock-solid. He even tried having sex with the last girl he dated, but it literally didn't work. Naked and frustrated, Richards turned to the girl and broke the news as best he could. "I'm sorry, but I'm gay."
It was a couple months later that he came out to his fraternity and some teammates without saying a word.
Kenyon holds a big annual end-of-year party for the students called Summer Sendoff. The party is right outside of the Phi Kappa Sigma house where Richards lives with his other fraternity brothers, including lacrosse teammate Colin McMahon.
McMahon and a couple of their brothers headed to the party and saw two men kissing passionately in front of their house. He didn't think much of it until after passing by the couple a second time and realizing one of the amorous men was Richards.
This piece originally ran on Broad Recognition, where Laura Goetz is a writer.
On February 7, people around the globe will gather around their TVs to watch the kick-off of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This time, the ceremonies, which usually spread messages of both patriotism and global unity, will have a slight tarnish. Vladimir Putin, the current President of Russia, has spent the past year waging war on queer people, and these legislative decisions have steeped the winter games in controversy.
Back in June, Putin defined any pro-homosexual material or speech as pornography, which means that simply calling homosexuality “natural” is grounds for arrest and fines. Then on July 3, Putin implemented radical antigay adoption discrimination. He signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children in any country with marriage equality, regardless of the sexual orientation of the potential parents. While these prejudiced actions are alarming, they are also domestic, and may or may not have made as large of a splash on the international stage, had the Olympics not been made a battlefield in the Russian government’s anti-LGBTQ crusade. In June, Putin signed a law that will allow police to arrest anyone visiting Sochi for the Olympics (athlete, trainer, family, or fan) who is gay, or even suspected of being gay. Doing so makes participating in the Olympics not only hostile, but also extremely dangerous for many athletes and spectators.
Part of the reason the Olympics law has garnered so much media attention is the latter law is in direct violation of the charter of the International Olympic Committee, which states, “every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind.” So what is Putin’s justification for this prejudice that defies the stated foundation for the Olympics? He claims that the Russian birth rate is dropping and he wants to protect children from pedophiles (neither of which, according to research, is correlated with homosexuality). Putin’s focus on reproduction and protecting children reveals a lot about the way that the state defines citizenship as being a part of a straight, traditional nuclear family. By delegitimizing the rights of adults living outside of heterosexual relationships, the Russian government has attempted to curtail the modernization of social structures and prevent the evolution of the way citizens are allowed to interact.
Earlier this month, Campus Pride announced their "Leaders in Action", naming 3 GO! Collegiate Ambassadors (pictured below):
Vanessa Gerber (University of California, Berkeley), Toni Kokenis (Stanford University), and Eliana Yankelev (University of Pennsylvania). Each of these leaders has contributed significantly to their campuses and increasing the visibility of LGBT athletes.
From Anna Aagenes, Executive Director of GO! Athletes:
We are extremely proud of those GO! Athletes who received the Campus Pride Awards. These collegiate captains are leaders not only on their sports teams, but in the national LGBT sports equality movement occurring in campuses across the country. College leaders like Eliana, Toni, Vanessa, and other GO! captains are truly leading the next generation of LGBT athletes and helping our allies understand the importance of
address LGBT topics related to our sports teams. This is a great way to start off the new year, and we're looking forward to the progress that GO! and our leaders can make across the country.
The full press release from Campus Pride:
In 2010, Campus Pride expanded on its Voice & Action Award by honoring annually the “Leaders in Action” at college campuses across the country. These individuals are creating positive change on their respective campuses when it comes to social justice activism and leadership. The “Leaders in Action” recognizes these exceptional students for their work and achievements as young adult leaders.
Campus Pride selected these “Leaders in Action” after a careful review of applications from student leaders across the country. These students will also be forwarded on to the final review process for the National Voice
& Action Leadership Awards to be announced later this month.
Campus Pride is honored to introduce our 2014 “Leaders in Action” (listed in alphabetical order):
Roze Brooks, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Tyler Fincannon, University of Texas at Dallas; Vanessa Gerber, University of California, Berkeley; Nick Hamblin, Colorado School of Mines; Jesse Klug, Bucknell University; Daniel Knapp, Stanford University; Toni Kokenis, Stanford University; Stephanie Rodriguez, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh; and Eliana Yankelev, University of Pennsylvania