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BC High students produce video supporting LGBT student-athletes

Posted by David Zimmerman March 25, 2014 08:33 AM

The Eagles of Boston College High School have become the first Catholic Conference All Boys high school to join the You Can Play Project. You Can Play promotes inclusion and diversity for all athletes, coaches and fans.

According to BC High Coach Michael Brennan, "Being a Jesuit high school, we strive to promote justice in all areas of life and once we heard Patrick Burke (founder of You Can Play) speak at our school, we knew we had to make a video. Patrick was invited to speak with our students by guidance counselor Katie Griswold and the Students for Social Respect student group. BC High wants to show that in our sports program, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you know how to be a good teammate and you can play, you to can play for BC High."

"Our experience working with BC High has been amazing. Their support for LGBT issues has been exceptional. From the administration, to the teachers, to the students, it has been heartwarming to see full buy in from the community. Their support is just another example of the unmatched work YCP is doing with religious academic institutions to ensure LGBT inclusion,” said Burke.

"I issued BC High two challenges - the first was to eliminate anti-gay language from their community. The second was to try to beat my alma mater, Xaverian, to become the first member of the Catholic Conference to create a YCP video. In a rare upset, BC High did beat Xaverian this time. Their video is wonderful. It is great to see that BC High took our message for LGBT inclusion and extended it to the other aspects of diversity their students see on a daily basis. It shows a true understanding of our underlying mission. We hope that the LGBT administrators, teachers, and students of BC High feel a little more included today."

All students who appear in the video are athletes and members of the class of 2014 at Boston College High School. They are: Christopher Solis (football), Stephen DeForge (Hockey, captain), Stephen DiCienzo (football, captain), Tom Moynahan (swimming and diving), John Carroll (lacrosse, captain), William Biggs (track, captain) Football, Christopher La Liberte (hockey, captain), Igor Carvalho (volleyball), Shaun Griswold, (swimming and diving),, Andrew Jaehnig (baseball), Sean Webster (baseball), Alexander Loughnane (basketball, captain), Michelle Laferriere (wresting, captain, football, track), and Jordan Samuels (track,captain).

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Jason Collins returns to Boston for the first time, meets the press

Posted by David Zimmerman March 7, 2014 11:52 AM

collinsnj.jpg
(NBA)

Jason Collins is a 13 year veteran of the NBA and a former member of the Boston Celtics. He is also the first openly gay player in a major North American sports league. Collins met with the press yesterday morning prior to his game last night (with the Brooklyn Nets) versus the Celtics

Jason, at the time you were playing for the Celtics Boston Spirit magazine published an interview that we conducted with Doc Rivers. In the interview Doc discussed the topic of gay players in the NBA and in professional sports in general. Did you see the article and, if so, what was your reaction?

Yes, I did see the article. It was a great article. It just showed the character of Doc Rivers. He mentioned that it (a player coming out) would be a story, but then over time the focus would go back to being on the basketball which is what we’re starting to see now.

Did you ever speak to John Amaechi (former NBA player who came out after his career ended) prior to your announcement?

I spoke to John Amaechi at the end of the (2012-2013) regular season before I came out. He is like a mentor because he has been down this road and I wanted to reach out to him, my brother was also his teammate in Utah. I was able to reach out to him, ask him questions about his journey and learn from that.

How has this (press conferences) changed over the past few weeks now that you have conducted so many. Are you hearing the same questions over and over again?

Pretty much the same questions, every now then I will get a political question. Mainly it’s the size (of the group of reporters) that has changed. Now it’s 10 (reporters) when this all started it was probably 40, so size is going down but regardless, you guys have a job to do in the media and as a player I try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

Last year (with the Celtics) obviously you were dealing with this decision but your teammates had no idea that it was happening, what was that like?

Most of my friends and family knew (last season). That’s just a credit to the people I have in my life that I could share everything with them and it did not become public. A lot of people in my life were very protective of me and, at the same time, I am glad I had that outlet in my life and I was able to be myself with my friends and family and I decided last year that I was ready to be myself with everybody else.

Did you ever consider coming out when you were here (with the Celtics)?

No, not when I was with the Celtics. I picked my jersey number for that reason (Collins wears number 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was killed in 1998 in a hate crime), so that every time I put the jersey on I would always be reminded and it would be a tribute to myself and the LGBT community…a silent tribute.

You have mentioned that you have received a lot of support since your announcement. Without necessarily naming names, have you heard anything on the court or from any other players that has not been as supportive?

No, it’s been 100% supportive. Everyone’s been great. It’s kind of funny now, this is my thirteenth year and when I come out for warm-ups I am friends with more of the assistant coaches than I am with the players because I have been playing so long.

Has that been a surprise to you?

I think the NBA as a whole, it’s a brotherhood, like a family. We’re all very supportive of each other.

It looks like we might have an openly gay football player in the NFL this year, do you think baseball and hockey are far behind?

I hope that all players feel comfortable to be there true self.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

The National Football League's statement regarding Arizona's 'discrimination' bill

Posted by David Zimmerman February 25, 2014 11:58 AM


SB1062, the controversial bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature that would allow for legalized discrimination, under the guise of religious freedom, has, apparently, caught the eye of the National Football League…among others. The bill, which will either get approved or vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer this week has been a hot topic across the country with many civil rights activists and politicians (including several who initially voted to pass the bill) urging Brewer to use her power of veto.

The NFL is currently scheduled to hold the 2015 Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Yesterday, the host NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals, joined the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL in releasing statements regarding SB 1062.


From the Arizona Cardinals:

What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.

From the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee:

We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL’s values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.

From the NFL via spokesman Greg Aiello

"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time."

Jason Collins to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, become the first openly gay active player in a major North American sport

Posted by David Zimmerman February 23, 2014 01:14 PM

Jason Collins will become the first openly gay active player in a major North American sports league later today according to several NBA league sources.

Collins, who played with the Boston Celtics for part of 2013, has not played since last year when he finished the season with the Washington Wizards. Following the season Collins came out as gay.

Once Collins signs what is expected to be a 10 day contract with the Brooklyn Nets (joining other former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) history will be made as it will mark the first time that a major pro sports team in the U.S. (counting the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball League, and the National Hockey League) will have an openly gay player on its roster.

Michael Sam, the Missouri football player who recently announced that he is gay, is expected to get drafted in the upcoming NFL draft and could be that leagues first openly gay player if he is able to make a final roster.

According to ESPN Collins worked out for the Nets last week.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Missouri students unite against Westboro Baptist Church

Posted by David Zimmerman February 17, 2014 08:39 AM

Mizzou.jpg
(LGBTQ Nation)

More than 2,000 students and supporters at the University of Missouri formed a “Wall of Love” around the campus on Saturday in a show of support for Michael Sam. Sam is the Missouri football player who announced recently that he is gay.

The wall was formed in an effort to keep members of he Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) from entering the campus. The WBC, home of the anti-gay extremists behind the “God Hate Fags” and “God hates the World” fundamentalist movement, was there to protest Sam.

“I came out just to stand by a cause that I think is really worthy and to show that love really is greater than hate,” said Rachel Bauer, a graduate student at Mizzou.

Michael-Sam-Mizzou-game-2-665x336.jpg
(AP)

“I think that it was brave and I was proud of him. I’m also proud of Mizzou because they didn’t make an issue of it. I think today was more about celebrating Michael Sam rather than anything to do with Westboro Baptist,” said Sarah Senff, also a student at Mizzou.

Sam was back on campus to be with his teammates as they were honored at the Missouri/Tennessee basketball game. When the team took to the court to be recognized for winning the Cotton Bowl Sam received a standing ovation from the crowd.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Michael Sam's father not supportive of his son's coming out

Posted by David Zimmerman February 12, 2014 08:48 AM

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(AP)

"I couldn't eat no more, so I went to Applebee's to have drinks," said Sam Sr. "I don't want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment." “I’m old school, I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”

That comment is from Michael Sam Sr., father of openly gay Missouri football player Michael Sam. Sam Sr. made the comment upon receiving a text from his son stating “Dad, I’m gay”.

This past Sunday Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, came out to the world in the New York Times and on ESPN. Since that time his story has been dominating sports talk across the country. While Sam has received a largely supportive response, it would appear that his father is less than pleased.

"As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross. This is just one he has to cross," said Sam Sr.. He went on to day that he is “old school” and that former NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones must be “turning over in his grave,” at the idea of an openly gay man playing in the NFL. Sam Sr. also added that he had taken an older son, Michael's brother, to Mexico to lose his virginity.

While coming out this past weekend Sam also described his upbringing.

"I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet her," he said. "My second-oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him ... my other two brothers have been in and out of jail since eighth grade, currently both in jail.”

"Telling the world I'm gay is nothing compared to that."

In his interview Sam Sr. also said that he loves his son and hopes that he makes it to the NFL.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

How would a Boston sports team handle a gay teammate? Just fine.

Posted by David Zimmerman February 10, 2014 11:37 AM


In the wake of college football player Michael Sam announcing that he is gay, there has been a lot of talk about what would happen if a player came out as gay in the Boston market.

Over the past several years Boston Spirit has been fortunate enough to work with several of the professional teams in Boston on this very topic. In 2011 Robert Kraft served as the keynote speaker at Boston Spirit’s LGBT Executive Networking Night. A year later when Jason Collins came out Kraft was quick to congratulate Collins in a statement from the team.

“My hearty congratulations to him,” Kraft said.

And when asked about the possibility of a Patriots player coming out, Kraft responded, “We’re about winning, and [if] someone can come in here and help us win I don’t care what ethnic background, what racial background, what gender preference they have, if they can help us win and they’re about team then I’ll be happy to have them here.”

In December 2012 Boston Spirit had the chance to sit down for an exclusive one on one interview with Boston Bruins enforcer Shaun Thornton. Thornton was quick to point out that, in his opinion, the Bruins would be very supportive of a gay teammate.

Boston Spirit: What do you think would happen if one of your teammates announced he was gay?

Shawn Thornton: Honestly, my teammates are like family so there would be support. I would personally [support] him and I’m pretty sure everyone in our locker room would. We’ve got a pretty good bunch of guys. I don’t think there would be any issues.

BS: If a player did come out, would he get targeted more on the ice?

ST: It depends. There are some things said out there [during games] that probably shouldn’t be said, but the league is very good at clamping down on players that say anything derogatory. I’m not going to pretend that out of 740 guys [the total number of players in the NHL] that you aren’t going to find someone who says something inappropriate but I think, for the most part, it would be fine. I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself it wouldn’t be an issue.

BS: And what about you, have you always been supportive of the LGBT community?

ST: My hometown is a very blue collar, industrial place. There isn’t much of a [gay] community there, but 20 minutes down the road was Toronto. So while I didn’t really grow up with a huge gay community there was one close by and it’s never been an issue with me.

BS: Are you concerned at all about what some people might think seeing you speaking about this topic?

ST: Whatever, I think I can defend myself (laughing).

In September of 2012 Boston Spirit sat down with then Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers. Rivers, years earlier, was the coach of the Orlando Magic. At that time he had the chance to coach a player named John Amaechi. Amaechi came out as a gay man shortly after retiring from the NBA.

Rivers, like Thornton and Kraft, felt as though the Celtics locker room (the 2012-2013 Celtics) would not have any problem with having a gay teammate.

BS: ESPN asked some ‘experts’ recently which league would be the worst at handling a gay player and the NBA was the pick. Do you think that’s the case?

DR: I think the NBA might have been named as worst, and I don’t think it should be, because the NBA has always had an image problem, because people know who you are. They see you, the players are in shorts and tank tops, everyone sees your face and there’s only twelve of us. When you have people with baseball hats on, and helmets, you don’t really get to see them. People know us and I think that might be why the NBA got picked. I think the reaction by all the sports would be about the same. I don't think one would be better or worse than the other. Hockey has its ethics code; baseball has its own clubhouse rules, and football does too. I personally think people are more open-minded than they get credit for. I've always believed that. I remember when I was playing for the Knicks and I was doing something on Imus [the Don Imus radio program] — I think I was injured at the time — he asked me if there were any gays in basketball and I said "yeah, absolutely." The next day I got a call from the league and said "Did you say that?" and I said, "Listen guys, it’s a ratio, just look at the numbers." It was an obvious answer, it was easy.

BS: David Stern and Charles Barkley have both said that the NBA is ready for an openly gay player. In your opinion, is the league ready?

DR: I think it is. I think it would depend on the team but even with a bad team, I think it would be a story for about a week and then it would go away. It would really help if it were a good player [laughing]. If you're a bad player the team doesn't care what your sexual orientation is, and if you’re a good player the team doesn't really care what your sexual orientation is — that’s the bottom line.

BS: Shaun Thornton of the Bruins told me that if one of the Bruins came out, he would fully support that player and he felt the rest of the team would too. He compared the team to a family. Do you feel the same thing would happen with your team?

DR: Absolutely. They would support him first, and then harass him second [laughing] — in a locker room fun way, not in a bad way. He would get razzed just like his teammates would get razzed. There would be no difference or change. I think it would be a one week story at home. Eventually one of the players would get upset because every time you go to a road game, the road reporter who hadn’t had a chance to ask the question would want to ask it and the player would finally say, "I'm done with this'" and that’s what would happen.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

NFL prospect Michael Sam comes out as "proud gay man"

Posted by David Zimmerman February 9, 2014 10:04 PM

sam.jpg
(AP)


The NFL’s first openly gay football player might come as the result of the upcoming 2014 college draft. Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri and the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year, said that he is gay in an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Sunday.

"I am an openly, proud gay man," Sam said. “I understand how big this is," he said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."

Sam also revealed in the interview that his college coaches knew he was gay and that, apparently, so did many other players. "I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me," he said. "I want to own my truth. ... No one else should tell my story but me."

When it came time to tell hiws coaches Sam was understandably nervous. "I was kind of scared, even though they already knew. Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One. I couldn't have better teammates. ... I'm telling you what: I wouldn't have the strength to do this today if I didn't know how much support they'd given me this past semester."

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said in a statement that he's proud of Sam.

"We're really happy for Michael that he's made the decision to announce this, and we're proud of him and how he represents Mizzou," Pinkel said. "Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he's taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn't matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we're all on the same team and we all support each other."

Sam also took some time during the interview to discuss his upbringing and how past adversity has helped get him during this time.

"I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet her. My second oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him ... my other two brothers have been in and out of jail since 8th grade, currently both in jail.

"Telling the world I'm gay is nothing compared to that."

On Sunday night, the NFL released a statement supporting Sam.

"We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage," NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello said in the statement. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Human rights groups urge Olympic corporate sponsors to speak out against Russia's policies

Posted by David Zimmerman February 3, 2014 11:43 AM

Corporate sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics should act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 40 of the world’s leading human rights and LGBT groups said today, in a joint open letter.

The letter to all of the leading sponsors of the Sochi Olympics asks them to use their leverage as underwriters of the 2014 Winter Games in a variety of concrete ways. The groups urged sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, which violates the Olympic Charter’s principle of non-discrimination, and to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to undertake systemic reforms to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in future host countries.

“Time is running out for the sponsors to take a clear stand in defense of Olympic values,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “These companies are sponsoring an Olympics marred by ugly discrimination and serious rights abuses. They should speak out forcefully for equality and human rights.”

The joint letter is addressed to the 10 TOP Sponsors of the Sochi Games (members of “The Olympic Partner” (TOP) Program)--Atos, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. The Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch and several other groups have engaged with the sponsors for nearly a year to urge them to act on abuses.

“Corporate sponsors are failing to stand up for Olympic values, which they proudly claim to be the core of the Olympic brand,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out. "The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6 includes protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. While the Russian government may be considering amendments to the anti-gay laws, sponsors still don’t have a good reason to remain silent way while gays and lesbians in Russia suffer.”

The letter was signed by a wide range of international human rights organizations, including All Out, Amnesty International, Athlete Ally, Freedom House, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, PEN and the Russian LGBT Network.

The complete list can be found at the bottom of the letter.

The groups call on the Olympic sponsors to take four specific actions:

*Individually and/or collectively, condemn Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law, which clearly violates the Sixth Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Charter (“Any form of discrimination… is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”);

*Use their Olympics-related marketing and advertising – both domestically and internationally – to promote equality;

* Ask the International Olympic Committee to create a body or other mechanism to prevent serious Olympics-related human rights abuses in host countries and to monitor those that do occur; and

* Urge the IOC to ensure that future Olympic host countries comply with their commitment to uphold the Olympic Charter, including the principles of non-discrimination and media freedom.

“Corporations with a track record of support for equality should not shy away from their espoused values by staying silent as Russia wages an attack on its LGBT community,” said Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for the Human Rights Campaign. “In just a few days Russia will be trying to present an international image of a strong, vibrant country. Corporate sponsors must condemn Russia’s anti-gay law and not advance President Putin’s pageantry.”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Sochi Mayor on gays "We do not have them in our city"

Posted by David Zimmerman January 27, 2014 02:01 PM

According to Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of 2014 Winter Olympics host-city Sochi, there are no gay people in his city.

In an interview with the BBC Pakhomov was asked how gay visitors would be treated in Sochi. He replied, “Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and doesn’t impose their habits on others.”

But when asked whether gay people had to hide their sexuality in Sochi, the Mayor said: “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”

When asked to confirm that statement (regarding having no gay people in Sochi), Pakhomov said “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”

At another point in the story, filed by BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney, Sweeney recounts going to a gay bar in Sochi and being told by people in the bar that there are, in fact, two gay bars in Sochi. .

Opposition party leader Boris Nemtsov later confirmed this claim while, at the same time, seemingly rebutting Pakhomov’s claim.

“As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi,” he said. “How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

Putin warns LGBT visitors "leave the children in peace"

Posted by David Zimmerman January 17, 2014 03:28 PM

Putin.jpg
(AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while trying to ease fears among LGBT participants and visitors to the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, stated today that “We aren’t banning anything, we aren’t rounding up anyone, we have no criminal punishment for such relations unlike many other countries.” Putin went to say that the law in place bans “propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors” and added that while gay visitors are welcome in Sochi they must “leave the children in peace.”

International condemnation on Russia’s anti-gay policy has been wide spread including a demonstration outside the set of the Today Show this morning. A group calling itself Queer Nation staged the protest aimed at NBC, the broadcast partner of the Olympics.

“NBC and Matt Lauer will have remarkable access to Vladimir Putin and the Russian LGBT community,” said Ken Kidd, one of the Queer Nation protesters. “Along with that comes the responsibility to report the real news. We are putting NBC on notice: Making Sochi a two-week travelogue infomercial for Putin would turn NBC into his media collaborators.”

Craig Robinson, NBC Universal’s executive vice president and chief diversity officer, on Thursday sent a memo to all (out) gay and lesbian employees stating that the company “will do everything possible to protect the rights, safety and well-being of our employees.”

He went on to say “The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our very strong hope that spirit prevails. Until then, we have and will continue to cover these human rights violations on our broadcast and cable news networks as the story continues to evolve.”

President Obama has also weighed in on the law in Russia stating he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” In another clear response to the anti-gay law Obama is sending former tennis star Billie Jean King, who is openly gay, to serve on the U.S. delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies at the games. (Openly gay hockey player Caitlin Cahow will also serve on the delegation)

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Former NFL punter says he was fired for supporting marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman January 2, 2014 06:50 PM


kluwe.jpg
(Minnesota Vikings)

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, best known for his support and activism on behalf of marriage equality, is speaking out against his for former NFL coaches. In an article Kluwe has written for the website Deadspin he has alleged that, among other things, his former Special Teams coach Mike Priefer stated in a meeting that "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

Kluwe punted for the Vikings for 8 seasons prior to getting cut from the team before to the current season. He was then picked up by the Oakland Raiders cut shortly thereafter. In the article Kluwe states that “I honestly don't know if my activism was the reason I got fired. However, I'm pretty confident it was.”

In explaining his history with the marriage equality movement Kluwe writes about first being approached during the summer of 2012 by the Minnesotans for Marriage Equality group. The group asked Kluwe if he would help them defeat the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment, which defined marriage as between a man and woman.

“After talking to the Vikings legal department, I was given the go-ahead to speak on the issue as long as I made it clear I was acting as a private citizen, not as a spokesman for the Vikings, which I felt was fair and complied with. I did several radio advertisements and a dinner appearance for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality,” writes Kluwe.

A few months later, in September 2012, Kluwe writes that he was called into Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frasier’s office and told that he "needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff."

The bulk of Kluwe’s wrath is directed at his position coach, Mike Priefer. Throughout the article Kluwe recounts instance of homophobic language being used by Priefer including the “nuke it until it glows” statement referenced above, and Priefer stating that Kluwe “would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible.”

So why is Kluwe writing the article now? He answers that question very clearly;

“If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman (the Vikings General Manager) take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be.”

Kluwe closes out the article by writing;

“Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Never be afraid to do what's right. If no one ever says anything, nothing ever changes. —Chris Kluwe, former NFL player


UPDATE -- Mike Priefer has issued a statement denying Chris Kluwe's allegations. The full text of the statement is below.

I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe.

I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.

The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.

The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children.

I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit magazine at www.Bostonspiritmagazine.com

St. Louis chorus pays up on World Series bet

Posted by David Zimmerman November 6, 2013 10:47 AM

The Gateway Men's Chorus of St. Louis has 'paid up' on their World Series bet.

The chorus made a friendly wager with the Boston Gay Men's Chorus prior to the start of the 2013 World Series. If they lost the bet (which, of course, they did!) they would need to produce a video of the group singing Sweet Caroline, in honor of the Red Sox.

From their YouTube Page;

So, the Gateway Men's Chorus of St. Louis had a little wager with the Boston Gay Men's Chorus regarding the outcome of the 2013 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. Needless to say, we're now fulfilling our obligation with this video. Congratulations, Boston! And much love to our brothers in BGMC!


For today's 5 biggest stories in the LGBT world, check out Boston Spirit magazine's Fab 5

Russian athletes pose for NOH8 campaign

Posted by David Zimmerman October 8, 2013 09:00 AM

russianno8.jpg
(Adam Bouska)

A team of Russian athletes competing at the World Outgames in Antwerp, Belgium have released a NOH8 photo in an attempt to bring attention to Russia’s recently passed anti-gay legislation. The legislation, championed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, bans the distribution of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

The legislation imposes hefty fines for providing information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Those breaking the law will be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156) for an individual and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for a company, including media organizations.

Since the announcement of the new law there has been considerable debate on whether the 2014 Winter Olympic Games should still take place in Sochi, and if so, what could potentially happen to visiting LGBT athletes taking part in the games.

Putin has said that Russia will comply with the Olympic Charter's provision against discrimination of any kind, but has also stated that the new anti-gay law would be enforced the games.

According to their Facebook page, the World Outgames “bring(s) together lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes from around the world in unprecedented numbers for a celebration of sport, culture and human rights. In the spirit of true inclusiveness, the World OutGames are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.”

HRC Calls on Olympic Sponsors to Condemn Anti-LGBT Law in Russia, Advocate for Equality Worldwide

Posted by David Zimmerman August 30, 2013 04:06 PM

Today Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin sent a letter to the heads of the top sponsors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressing concern over the anti-LGBT Russian law criminalizing “homosexual propaganda.” In addition to raising awareness about the law that has led to multiple human rights abuses, particularly hate-based violence against LGBT young people, the letter calls on the corporate leaders from Dow Chemical, Coca Cola, General Electric, McDonalds, Proctor & Gamble, Panasonic, Samsung, Omega, Visa, and Atos to take the following steps:

1. Adopt a clear and unequivocal public position in opposition to anti-LGBT laws like the one adopted by the Russian government.

2. Denounce targeted violence against LGBT people in Russia and demand investigation and accountability from Russian authorities.

3. Ask the IOC to obtain concrete, written commitments from the Russian government about the safety of international Olympic athletes and attendees—and urge the IOC to reject future Olympic bids from countries with laws that outlaw support for LGBT equality.

4. Affirm unequivocal support for non-discrimination and equality, and ensure that policies and practices reflect this commitment.

5. Put marketing and creative advertising resources to use—helping to build awareness and demonstrate support for LGBT equality in Russia and globally.

6. Support the local LGBT community in Russia.

The HRC Foundation is creating an online resource that will reflect the actions taken or not taken by IOC sponsors with regard to these six areas we have outlined.
In June, a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" was passed by Russia’s Federal Assembly and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. Under the guise of protecting children from "homosexual propaganda," the law imposes fines or jail time to citizens who disseminate information that may cause a "distorted understanding" that LGBT and heterosexual relationships are "socially equivalent." The fines are significantly higher if such information is distributed through the media or Internet. Foreigners, such as those visiting Russia for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, will not only be fined but also face arrest and up to 15 days in jail, followed by eventual deportation, according to the new law.

WWE wrestler comes out as gay

Posted by David Zimmerman August 15, 2013 02:08 PM


Darren Young, a wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has come out as gay.

The admission came during an impromptu interview with a TMZ cameraman while Young was at Los Angeles International Airport. The cameraman asked Young if a gay wrestler could be successful in the WWE. Young answered "absolutely, look at me. I'm a WWE Superstar and, to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay, and I'm happy. Very happy."

Young continued, “"I guess if you want to call it 'coming out,' I really don't know what to say it is," he said. "I'm just letting you know that I'm happy [with] who I am, I'm comfortable with myself, and I'm happy to be living the dream ... Some people might not like it. Some people will like it. I'm here to please myself. I'm here to be happy ... I'm hoping to make a difference. It's very important to me to make people understand that someone's sexual preference shouldn't really matter. It should be about the person."

WWE has since commented on the interview. In a statement released to The Huffington Post, the WWE announced. “WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar. Today, in fact, Darren will be participating in one of our Be A Star anti-bullying rallies in Los Angeles to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation."

Young began wrestling professionally in 2002 and joined the WWE in 2005.

National Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame launches in Chicago

Posted by David Zimmerman August 2, 2013 10:39 AM

Tonight in Chicago the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame will induct its very first class of honorees. The group leading the way into the Hall includes former major league baseball umpire Dave Pallone, tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis and former Boston Celtic Jason Collins.

"It is a tremendous honor and ... I hope it gives young people and adults alike who happen to be LGBT and want to be in professional sports another example of why they should continue to strive for their dreams," Pallone said.

Among the events schedule for the weekend is “Out at Wrigley” which is being billed as the largest “gay day” at a major league sporting event.

"This will help preserve history," said Executive Director Bill Gubrud. "You are not going to know where to go if you don't know where you've been and many in the gay community don't know Glenn Burke." Burke is also being inducted, posthumously. He played for the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970s.

According to Burke, Chicago was chosen as the host location for the Hall for a variety of reasons including the fact that the Chicago Cubs, more than a decade ago, became the first professional sports team to place an ad in a gay newspaper.

Former World Champion boxer, and gay man, Emile Griffith dead

Posted by David Zimmerman July 25, 2013 11:44 AM

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(Bello)

"I keep thinking how strange it is ... I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. However, I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgivable sin; this makes me an evil person. So, even though I never went to jail, I have been in prison almost all my life."

From the book "Nine ... Ten ... And Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith"


Emile Griffith was a three time World Welterweight Champion. He was also gay, at a time when all gay professional athletes remained staunchly in the closet. Griffith died this week at the age of 75.

Griffith is best known for a 1962 title fight against Benny Paret. In the fight Griffith beat Paret so badly that Paret died 10 days later. In a documentary about the fight called ‘Ring of Fire’ Griffith talked about remarks made by Paret before the fight that may have played a part in the savage beating. In those comments Paret had called Griffith a “maricon,” Spanish for faggot. “When I had him in the corner in the 12th round … I was very angry in the ring,” Griffith said in the documentary. “Nobody ever called me a faggot.”

Griffith had a professional record of 85-24-2. He was the WBA and WBC welterweight champion throughout the Sixties.

His life is the subject of a new opera, "Champion," which debuted in St. Louis last month.

Nike launches Be True line to support LGBT athletes

Posted by David Zimmerman June 13, 2013 01:26 PM

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Nike has expanded their Be True line of footwear and clothing making the items available for purchase online, previously the line was only available in limited markets.

The line, which features multi-colored sneakers and sandals, among a variety of other items was launched last year in a show of support for the LGBT community. A portion of the profits from sales of Be True items will be donated to the LGBT Sports Coalition, with the aim of ending discrimination in the athletic world.

Jason Collins, who is in talks with Nike regarding coming on as a spokesperson for the campaign, wore the Be True T-Shirt while marching in the recent Boston Pride parade.

Nike is also holding its annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit this week.
The event includes college and professional athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, political figures, LGBT advocates and journalists.

Boston ranks 6th best LGBT Sports city in the country

Posted by David Zimmerman June 7, 2013 03:13 PM

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(Target 10)

It’s been quite a year when it comes to the melding of the lgbt world and sports world. Several current and former players have come out as gay including, former Boston Celtic Jason Collins, WNBA star Brittney Griner, and recently MLS player Robbie Rogers.

On the heels of all of this momentum Nike recently held its second annual ‘Nike LGBT Sports Summit which brought together advocacy groups, athletes, coaches, and journalists to discuss the LGBT community in the world of professional sports.

In addition, New York marketing firm Target 10 has released its list of Top 10 LGBT Sports Cities in the country. The list was compiled by using data such as LGBT population, number of gay sports leagues, number of gay sports bars, as well as a few other data points.

Boston ranked 6th on the list behind Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Rounding out the top 10 were Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia.

Robert Kraft on having a gay player "I’ll be happy to have them here"

Posted by David Zimmerman May 7, 2013 09:40 AM

Jason Collins played for the Celtics this past year and recently announced that he is gay.

Jamie Collins has yet to start his professional career.

Jamie Collins was introduced to the media and fans of the New England Patriots last week during rookie media day at Gillette Stadium. Jamie was the second round pick of the Patriots in the recently completed NFL draft.

While on hand to introduce Collins, Patriots owner Robert Kraft took a moment to comment on the other Collins in the news these days, Jason Collins.

“My hearty congratulations to him,” Kraft said. And when asked about the possibility of a Patriots player coming out, Kraft responded, “We’re about winning, and [if] someone can come in here and help us win I don’t care what ethnic background, what racial background, what gender preference they have, if they can help us win and they’re about team then I’ll be happy to have them here.”

ESPN analyst calls homosexuality an "open rebellion to God"

Posted by David Zimmerman April 30, 2013 08:39 AM

ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard, while appearing on the cable station’s show Outside The Lines, yesterday compared homosexuality and premarital sex to an “open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ.”

Broussard who began his sports writing career for The Plain Dealer before moving to the Akron Beacon Journal where he started covering the NBA. He joined ESPN Magazine in 2004 and started appearing on ESPN shortly thereafter.

While on Outside The Lines (to discuss NBA player Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay) Broussard commented that he doesn’t "believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly ... like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says 'you know them by their fruits.' It says that, you know, that’s a sin."

He went on to say, “if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality -- adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals -- whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."

Shortly after the program aired ESPN released the following statement:

We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers on Jason Collins

Posted by David Zimmerman April 29, 2013 03:22 PM

The following statement is from Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers on Jason Collins' announcement today:

“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite “team” players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be its not up to you, it’s just me being me."

Collins, as you can read HERE has announced that he is gay in an article appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. He played for the Celtics this year until being traded to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford

Current NBA player Jason Collins " I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

Posted by David Zimmerman April 29, 2013 11:38 AM


Jason Collins who played for the Boston Celtics this season, prior to being traded to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford, has come out as a gay man in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. Collins cited the recent NBA lockout, the Boston Marathon bombings and his old college roommate, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, as some of the reasons he decided to make the announcement now.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."

Collins also discussed wearing number 98 as a player. He wore the number in reference to 1998, the year Matthew Shepard was killed. Shepard’s murder is one of the best known acts of anti-gay violence in modern times.

Collins has played in the NBA since 2001. He has played for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, and Washington Wizards.

Collins twin brother Jarron also played in the NBA.

Tyler Seguin apologizes for tweet

Posted by David Zimmerman April 24, 2013 08:56 AM

Boston Bruin Tyler Seguin got in a bit of hot water last night after tweeting out a message some have called homophobic.

Seguin, to his credit, quickly realized his error and sent out a second message to apologize.

The original tweet was in reference to a song by Boston rapper Slaine. Seguin, who appears in the video for the song, wrote ““Just listened to the song in my bed. Gave me goosebumps no homo...”

That tweet was followed by,

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Interestingly, The National Hockey announced, jus two weeks ago, that the league has entered into a formal partnership with the You Can Play Project which works with athletes and leagues to educate them on issues surrounding lgbt athletes and the lgbt community.

Gay Boston cop in iconic Marathon photo, Sports Illustrated cover

Posted by Jim Lopata April 16, 2013 06:43 PM

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Out, gay Boston police officer and LGBT Boston Police Department Liaison Javier Pagan on the cover of Sports Ilustrated, on the right. (photo: from Sports Illustrated Facebook page)

Out, gay Boston police officer and LGBT Boston Police Department Liaison Javier Pagan is on the cover of the current issue of Sports Illustrated.

The cover photograph captures Pagan and two fellow police officers racing into action to help a fallen marathon runner after the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

Pagan joined the Boston police force in 1995 and is a long-time member of the Gay Officer's Action League (GOAL), according to his Facebook page. The Greater Boston Business Council (GBBC), Boston's LGBT chamber of commerce, gave him an Award for Excellence for outstanding service in 2005.

The already iconic photo is making the rounds on Facebook and other social media platforms.

The National Hockey League announces partnership with the You Can Play Project

Posted by David Zimmerman April 11, 2013 06:45 PM

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(photo: GLAAD)

The National Hockey League, and the NHL players association, has announced a partnership with the You Can Play Project.

You Can Play, launched in Boston by Patrick Burke, is an advocacy group that fights homophobia in sports. Burke, son of former NHL executive Brian Burke, started the You Can Play Project after his brother Brendan was killed in a car accident several years ago. Brendan was an athlete and student manager at Miami University for the men's ice hockey team and made international headlines for coming out, advocating for tolerance and speaking out against homophobia in professional sports.

Speaking on the partnership Burke stated, "The NHL sets the standard for professional sports when it comes to LGBT outreach and we are incredibly grateful for their help and support. We will work with League and NHLPA officials, teams and players to ensure that we create a more inclusive hockey community at all levels."

Said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "Our motto is 'Hockey Is For Everyone,' and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way. While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players' Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands."

"NHL players have supported the You Can Play Project since its inception, which we are pleased to formalize and expand upon with today's announcement," said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. "The players believe our partnership with the NHL and You Can Play will foster an inclusive hockey environment from the grassroots level to the professional ranks."

The partnership includes a significant commitment to education and training for teams, players, media and fans plus the production and broadcast of more public service announcements.

"As NHL players, we all strive to contribute towards helping our teams achieve success on the ice. Any player who can help in those efforts should be welcomed as a teammate," said Ron Hainsey, Winnipeg Jets defenseman and NHLPA Executive Board member. "This partnership solidifies the message that the hockey community believes in fairness and equality for everyone."

You Can Play will conduct seminars at the NHL's rookie symposium to educate young prospects on LGBT issues. In addition, You Can Play will make its resources and personnel available to each individual team as desired.

The NHLPA and NHL also will work with You Can Play to integrate the project into their Behavioral Health Program, enabling players to confidentially seek counseling or simply ask questions regarding matters of sexual orientation.

Former Balitmore Raven says a "handful" of current NFL players will come out soon

Posted by David Zimmerman April 5, 2013 10:26 AM

According to Brendon Ayanbadejo, who was recently cut by the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, a “handful of players” currently in the league are discussing coming out as gay. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Ayanbadejo said it will happen “sooner than you think,’” stating, "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”

"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."

Ayanbadejo ,along with Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe, has been an outspoken leader within the NFL for lgbt rights including marriage equality. Although he is no longer playing he plans on continuing his activism and working with the NFL to make the league a more inclusive place. "The NFL wants to be proactive about what's going on with players and some of the remarks and incidents that have been happening with the LGBT community,” he said. “The NFL wants me to talk to the rookie class and they are talking about potentially having talks with all the guys about LGBT sensitivity. I think all the major sports groups need to be productive and take a stance.”

"Everyone has a relative or friend that's in the LGBT community, whether it's (former NFL commissioner) Paul Tagliabue's son or people in the Ravens organization who have relatives in the LGBT community. There are a lot of opportunities opening up, but I had nothing scheduled because I had been anticipating playing. I knew there was a possibility that I could be released. I have no regrets. I wouldn't change a single thing. It's been a good ride. If the Ravens call me in training camp, so be it. If not, I'll still be busy with a lot of great things."

Finally, Ayanbadejo thanked his fans in Baltimore and across the country.

"The Ravens have a ton of gay and lesbian fans nationwide and in the city of Baltimore," Ayanbadejo said. "I get a ton of supportive emails and letters. It's pretty cool. We have blue-collar fans, a diverse set of blue-collar fans, a diaspora of great people.”

Vikings Punter to gay players, "You are not a distraction"

Posted by David Zimmerman April 4, 2013 09:38 AM

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(Photo: Minnesota Vikings)


Minnesota Vikings Punter, and staunch lgbt ally, Chris Kluwe has penned a brilliant Op-Ed for CNN regarding the prospect of an NFL player coming out as gay. Kluwe say, among other things that “There are millions of people across America who work with gay co-workers every day, and they handle their business without riotous orgies consuming the work environment. In the extremely unlikely event that a gay player harasses you? We have an HR department. File a complaint, just the way a female employee would if you harassed her.”

He discusses the many reasons that he felt compelled to write the column in the first place, including , “so that coaches, managers, players, owners and fans realize that the first gay player who comes out won't spontaneously cause rainbows to erupt out of everyone's rear.” And because he feels that “it's not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction.”

Kluwe, along with former Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, have been outspoken in their support of the lgbt community and their support for any professional athlete who is gay and is thinking of coming out of the closet.

Kluwe closes his piece with some supportive words of advice for any athlete struggling with hiding his/her sexuality stating, “You are a teammate, a friend, and you do not have to sacrifice who you are for the team to win, no matter what anyone else says.”

See Kluwe’s full column below:

"Don't be a distraction." These words are pounded into every single NFL player's head from the day he enters the league until the day he leaves (and I would imagine it holds true for just about every professional sport).

The same message, over and over and over -- "The team comes first," "Sacrifice your personal goals to win," "Only be judged by what goes on between the lines" -- which is why I find it unsurprising that there are no openly gay athletes in any of the big four professional sports leagues in the U.S.: the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.

The message is pushed on us so hard, in fact, that players run the very real risk of losing their jobs if the team deems them too much of a distraction, and unfortunately it seems gay players feel that being comfortable with who they are has to take second place to keeping their jobs.

This isn't right.

It's not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction. It's not right that our insatiable lust for sports coverage creates an atmosphere where someone would willingly subordinate his life to a backward and bigoted worldview in order to stay employed.
It's not right that we can't just accept someone for who he is.

Why?

Why do people care so much about someone else's sexuality? Why do people give two s***s how someone else lives his life? Why do people have this absolutely idiotic notion that being gay has any sort of effect on how well a player can play football, or basketball, or baseball? Why the f*** do I even have to write this column for a major news organization to talk about something that shouldn't even remotely be a factor in sports?

Well, the reason is simple. I'm writing this because no gay player is currently out, and the first gay player who eventually does come out needs to know that -- despite all the indoctrination from the league about not being a distraction -- if he's the one to take the first step, he will have allies. He will have support. He will have those of us who realize that people's sexuality doesn't define who they are, just as their jobs don't define who they are, and that guys who bring our wives and children to games and team events are no different than those who would bring their husbands and children.

Most importantly, I'm writing this so that coaches, managers, players, owners and fans realize that the first gay player who comes out won't spontaneously cause rainbows to erupt out of everyone's rear.

In professional sports, the players on a team are a team. We eat together. We practice together. We watch film together, and we succeed or fail together. We see each other more than our own families during the season. To think that a gay player is suddenly going to destroy all that because he's out is asinine.

The idea that a gay player will be a distraction needs to change.

Coaches, administrative personnel -- will an openly gay player bring extra attention? Maybe, but guess what -- there's a whole bunch of other crap that happens during the season every year, anything from sexting to arrests to profane letters, and somehow we've managed to find a way through it each time without the entire edifice of football collapsing into ruin.

Instead of looking at an openly gay player as a distraction, ask yourselves -- how much better would that player play if he didn't have to worry about hiding a core part of who he is? How many more sacks would he have, free of that pressure? How many more receptions? How many more rushing yards?

Fans, media -- will an openly gay player be a distraction? Only if you make it one. Only if you insist on denying someone the freedom to live his own life on his own terms, instead of under someone else's control. Stop worrying about who a player dates; worry about his completion percentage, or tackles for loss, or return average. I can promise you, on Sundays the only thing he's worried about is lining up and doing his job to the best of his ability, or else he's going to be cut (just like any of us).
Players -- Those of you worried about a gay teammate checking out your ass in the shower, or hitting on you in the steam room, or bringing too much attention to the team -- I have four simple words for you. Grow the f*** up. This is our job, we are adults, so would you kindly act like one?

There are millions of people across America who work with gay co-workers every day, and they handle their business without riotous orgies consuming the work environment. In the extremely unlikely event that a gay player harasses you? We have an HR department. File a complaint, just the way a female employee would if you harassed her. If the media want to ask you about a gay teammate? He's a teammate, and you're focused on winning -- together. As a team.

And finally, to the gay player who does eventually come out, whoever that brave individual happens to be -- will you have to deal with media attention, with heightened scrutiny? Yes. Despite everything Brendon, Scott, myself, and all your other allies do, despite all the articles we write and interviews we give, despite the growing acceptance across this entire country, there are going to be people who insist on looking at you through the lens of your sexuality, and not at your skills as a football player. But you know what? All of us understand the truth.

You are a teammate, a friend, and you do not have to sacrifice who you are for the team to win, no matter what anyone else says.

You are not a distraction.


Gronk OK with gay teammate

Posted by David Zimmerman March 29, 2013 08:51 AM

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New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski , in an interview with ESPN Radio on Wednesday, said he would accept a gay teammate saying “If that’s How they are, that’s how they are.”

In the interview with Stephen A. Smith and RyenRuocco, Gronkowski said, "You've got to accept the player. Everyone has their own ways to live their life and as long as he's respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, I'll respect him back.”

"If he's being a great teammate and he's a guy on the field doing a great job, well then you've got nothing to complain about. He's another teammate and another friend."

As a follow up Gronkowski was asked if he thought other players in the NFL feel the same way he does. "I'm not really sure," he replied. "I never went around asking players on my team or in the NFL, 'Hey, what would you think if someone on our team is gay? How would you take it?' I never thought of that, and never asked anyone that and never tried to find out if there is [a gay player] on the team.

"If someone is on my team and they are a great teammate and a great player on the field, helping the team win -- that's all you've got to ask for."

The interview comes on the heels of a report this week from Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com in which Freeman states that a current NFL player is “strongly considering” coming out publicly in the next few months. Freeman bases conclusion on a series of interviews that he has had with several current and former NFL players.

According to Freeman's report the player is not worried about the reaction from inside the locker room but is more concerned about the reaction from outside of the locker room…from the public.

From Freeman's article:

This player's true concern, I'm told, is not the reaction inside an NFL locker room but outside of it. The player fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out. My sources will not say who this alleged player is.


NY Attorney General warns NFL regarding 'sexual orientation' questions

Posted by David Zimmerman March 14, 2013 03:06 PM


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released a letter sent by his office to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding an investigation on whether possible draft picks were asked about their sexual orientation during the league's combine, which is illegal in New York.

In the letter, Schneiderman requests that the league:

Issue a public statement clarifying its position "that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players is a violation of state, local, and in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated."

"Memorialize this commitment in a written policy" and distribute the policy throughout the League.

Advise NFL prospects to contact League officials if they have ever been asked questions about their sexual orientation.

Schneiderman asked Commissioner Goodell to contact him by Wednesday to schedule a meeting on the matter.

In a statement by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, the league revealed that it is already looking into the matter. "Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws," the NFL said in its recent statement. "It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."

NFL executives asking college prospects if they "like girls"

Posted by David Zimmerman February 27, 2013 08:17 AM

According to one college football senior NFL teams have taken to asking college prospects about their sexual orientation at this year’s pro football combine. Top college players attend the combine in order to highlight their skills for NFL executives. During the combine players go through a series of drills to test their athleticism in addition to spending time interviewing with team personnel.

One prospect, Nick Kasa, a player from the University of Colorado, told ESPN radio that several teams had asked him questions such as “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “Do you like girls?” Said Kasa, “it was just kind of weird.”

Many who follow the NFL, including Mike Florio of NBC Sports feel that the questioning is directly related to the rampant rumors surrounding Notre Dame star Manti T’eo. "Here's the elephant in the room for the teams and it shouldn't matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL," said Florio. "Teams want to know whether Manti Te'o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it's a different world. It shouldn't be that way."

Rumors of T’eo being gay have been front and center since it was learned that he took part in a hoax in which his girlfriend of three years, Lennay Kekua, was found to be a fictional character and not, in fact, a real person.

Fox Sports Jason Whitlock penned an article yesterday in which he implored NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose brother is gay, to take a stronger stand against homophobia in the league.

From Whitlock:

Let’s be honest. I think it’s reasonable to assume that 15 percent of NFL players are gay and/or bisexual. Generally speaking, they’re forced to conceal their sexuality out of fear of being ostracized and potentially released from the team. They need to be set free, released from the grip of the most hostile work environment in America. Is there a more homophobic work setting than a football locker room? I can’t think of one.
There’s a terrific opportunity here for Goodell. He can make the NFL a zero-tolerance zone for homophobia. He can use the weight of his office and the power he wields because of the player-conduct policy to go after players and organizations that tolerate any form of sexuality discrimination. He could send a clear message the NFL commissioner is a friend to gays and will take every possible action to ensure they’re treated fairly. Goodell can create an environment that entices a closeted gay player to come out and be the hero/role model gay kids, parents of gay children and overgrown idiots need.

How can he accomplish all of this? He can start by partnering with gay-rights activists and establishing an oversight committee that investigates, monitors and trains NFL teams in issues related to anti-gay workplace hostility. He can then begin treating offenders with the same heavy hand he uses on players for illegal hits and off-field incidents.


Tim Tebow cancels appearance at anti-gay church

Posted by Jim Lopata February 21, 2013 12:05 PM

The Advocate is reporting that popular, Christian quarterback Tim Tebow, is tweeting that he is withdrawing from speaking at First Baptist Church of Dallas, which has a history of using anti-LGBT rhetoric.

According the report, Tebow tweeted:

"While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, ... due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!"

More at www.advocate.com.

A quarterback comes out as gay in a USA Network drama

Posted by Jim Lopata February 20, 2013 12:00 PM

Tonight, USA Network's Necessary Roughness imagines what it would be like to have a professional football player come as gay.

From the press release:

On Wednesday, Feb 20, tune in to see the emotional and provocative second half of USA Network's 'Necessary Roughness' at 10/9c as the team tackles their quarter's coming out. The fear, anticipation, support and relief will resonate with viewers who have faced this milestone and give strength to others faced with their own coming out ­not to mention the current fervor over the iron-clad closet of professional sports.

A trailer can be accessed here: http://usanet.tv/NR216cl1

More at www.usanetwork.com/series/necessaryroughness.

U.S. Mens National Soccer player comes out

Posted by David Zimmerman February 15, 2013 02:45 PM

Robbie Rogers, a player on the U.S. National Mens Soccer team, and former player for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, has penned an open letter on his website announcing that he is gay.

Rogers, 25, also announced his retirement from the sport:

The Next Chapter…

Things are never what they seem… My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.

For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams.

Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?

Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.

I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.

Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.

President Obama supports U.S. bid for Gay Games 2018

Posted by Jim Lopata February 13, 2013 12:16 PM

President Barack Obama is officially supporting Orlando, Florida's bid to host the 2018 Gay Games.

Watermarkonline.com is posting an image of the letter that the Orlando organizing committee received from the White House.

Excerpts include:

I am pleased to voice my support for the City of Orlando's bid to host the Gay Games 2018.

As President of the United States, I am committed to advancing equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, both in America and around the world.

According to Outsports.com, this is believed to be the first such kind of support for a gay athletic games event from a U.S. president.

No other U.S. cities are bidding to host the 2018 Games. The 2014 Gay Games are to be held in Cleveland.

Curt Schilling "I played with some (gay teammates)"

Posted by David Zimmerman February 7, 2013 09:05 AM

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(Photo courtesy of CBS News)

In the wake of several anti-gay proclamations last week by professional athletes, most notably San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has taken to twitter to air his thoughts.

Last week Schilling sent out two rapid fire tweets. From @gehrig38 (Schilling's twitter name):

Also, I've never understood this 'issue' with gay players? Who cares? I know I played with some, their sexual orientation never had much to

That tweet was quickly followed by:

To do with how they hit with RISP, or pitched in late and close situations, why the hell would what they do in the bedroom ever matter?

Last week Culliver, in a pre-Super Bowl interview stated "I don't do the gay guys man, I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do." In response to a question regarding the possibility of gay players on the 49ers.

Culliver later apologized for his statements and will begin sensitivity training before starting volunteer work The Trevor Project.

“He’s so passionate about youth and people being comfortable with who they are and accepted by all,” Culliver's spokesman told NESN. “He’s excited to learn. The plan is with The Trevor Project, and their concerns are that he is genuine about his words.”

The man behind the Manti Te'o hoax claims to be a "recovering homosexual"

Posted by David Zimmerman January 31, 2013 04:10 PM

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man accused of inventing a fake girl as part of an elaborate hoax played on Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o is now claiming to be a “recovering homosexual.”

Tuiasosopo allegedly impersonated a female named Lennay Kekua and embarked on a three year relationship with Te’o which resulted in Te’o referring to Kekua as his “girlfriend” on many occasions.

Appearing on the Dr. Phil show Tuiasosopo was asked if he is gay. "I asked him, straight up, was this a romantic relationship with you?" said Dr. Phil "And he says, 'yes.' I then said, are you then, therefore, gay? He says, 'Well, when you put it that way, yes.' And then, he caught himself and said, 'I am confused.'"

Tuiasosopo went on to say, “You’ve heard of recovering drug addicts? It takes a lot of courage to stand and say that. To recover from homosexuality and this type of thing. Not only that, coming back to your real life, as hard as a task as that is I’m going to do all that I can to live right.”

According to excerpts released from the show Tuiasosopo also discussed his “confused” sexual identity and said that he "fell deeply, romantically in love" Te’o over the course of their relationship.

Tuiasosopo also stated that Te’o played absolutely no part in the hoax and was unaware that Kekua was not, in fact, a real female.


Super Bowl bound 49er says gay players not welcome on the team

Posted by David Zimmerman January 30, 2013 08:50 PM

(Update -- after posting this article Chris Culliver, through the San Francisco 49er public relations staff, has issued the following apology, "The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.")


The Human Rights Campaign is condemning comments by San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver in which he says gay players wouldn’t be welcome on his team. The homophobic remarks stand in stark contrast to the numerous NFL players who advocate for equality – including Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight ally who will take the field against Culliver this Sunday.

Culliver made the remarks during a Super Bowl media day interview yesterday, telling a radio host: "I don't do the gay guys man. I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do….Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man.”

49er head coach Jim Harbaugh is on record as saying a gay player would be welcome on the team.

“Chris Culliver’s comments represent the height of ignorance and the type of homophobic banter that professional athletes rarely use anymore,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Chris Culliver’s irrational rant against LGBT people is reprehensible, and the fact that he is about to face off in the Super Bowl against Brendon Ayanbadejo – a steadfast ally for our community – only exacerbates how unacceptable his comments are. Culliver should recognize how far most of his fellow athletes have come on this issue and apologize immediately.”

The Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo is one of the most prominent voices in the NFL advocating for equality – he donated a good deal of his time to the recent successful push for marriage equality in Maryland. Chris Kluwe, with the Minnesota Vikings, is another NFL player who has spoken out frequently for LGBT Americans.

In addition to facing off against Ayanbadejo this weekend, Culliver’s comments also may not sit well with many of his own teammates on the 49ers. The 49ers were the first NFL team to film an ‘It Gets The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – is condemning comments by San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver in which he says gay players wouldn’t be welcome on his team. The homophobic remarks stand in stark contrast to the numerous NFL players who advocate for equality – including Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight ally who will take the field against Culliver this Sunday.

In addition to facing off against Ayanbadejo this weekend, Culliver’s comments also may not sit well with many of his own teammates on the 49ers. The 49ers were the first NFL team to film an ‘It Gets Better’ video aimed at LGBT youth.

Gay players and marriage equality take center stage at the Super Bowl

Posted by David Zimmerman January 25, 2013 07:50 AM

Count Jim Harbaugh, Coach of the Super Bowl bound San Francisco 49ers among those in professional sports who would welcome a gay player on his team.

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle’s IPad 49ers magazine Harbaugh stated “I ask all players to play through their own personality and be who they are. What you ask of a player is to be a great teammate and be a good player. My expectations would be the same. Personally, there’s no discrimination in my heart.”

Harbaugh went on to say that he would treat the player the same as any other player.

Most players on the 49ers echoed the sentiments of their coach.

“At the end of the day, we are all family in this locker room, and we accept each player for whoever they are,” said linebacker Larry Grant. “Whatever makes you happy, do it,” cornerback Tarell Brown said. “I just feel like, you shouldn’t hide it. At the end of the day don’t be embarrassed with what you are, or what you do. If you are that way, that’s you.”

The 49ers are the only NFL team to have produced a video for the It Gets Better Project. In the video several members of the team deliver the following message:

There’s nothing easy about being young. About being yourself. About being an individual. Every day brings different changes and challenges that define who you are. But something you should never experiences is being bullied, intimidated or being pressured into being someone or something you are not. The San Francisco 49ers are proud to join It Gets Better.org to let all LGBT teens know that It Gets Better. Believe in yourself, set goals for yourself. Look to the future and it will get better.

You can see the video HERE


Not to be outdone, the Baltimore Ravens also have a representative playing in the game that is speaking about lgbt related issues. Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, an ardent supported of marriage equality, is looking to use his platform in front of the massive press corps covering the game to advance the cause. Ayanbadejo recently emailed several marriage equality supports asking, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”

“It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone. And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there,” Ayanbadejo recently told the New York Times. “I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society. Discrimination was never allowed" he continued.

In 2009, Ayanbadejo,in a blog post for Huffington Post, wrote, "If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can't a loving same sex couple tie the knot? The divorce rate in America is currently 50 percent. I am willing to bet that same sex marriages have a higher success rate than heterosexual marriages."

And finally, readers of sports illustrated will get a little surprise when they open the current issue. The magazine will feature a photo (below) taken at Hi Tops, a gay sports bar in San Francisco, showing two men kissing to celebrate the 49ers win that sent the team to the Super Bowl.

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(Sports Illustrated)

Is Manti Te'o gay?

Posted by David Zimmerman January 18, 2013 08:44 AM


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Did Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o take part in an elaborate hoax, which included having a girlfriend who didn’t actually exist, to hide the fact that he is gay?

That’s one of the many questions being asked these days as journalists, sports fans, and the general public struggle to come up with an explanation for Te’o’s behavior. Te’o told his heartbreaking story of the passing of his grandmother and girlfriend within hours of one another. He said that he and Lennay Kekua had met online several years ago and that she had died of leukemia shortly after his grandmother had also passed away.

A recent article on the website Deadspin has revealed that Kekua never existed. From Deadspin:

There was no Lennay Kekua. Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te’o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te’o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te’o every night on the telephone. She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te’o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te’o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral. Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te’o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest. Lennay Kekua’s last words to Manti Te’o were not “I love you.”

Reports have now surfaced that Te’o’s friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was the person behind Kekua’s fake twitter account and that Te’o and Tuiasosopo had seen each other as recently as November when Notre Dame played USC in Southern California.

Here is Te’o’s take on the entire incident, “this is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”

Concludes Cyd Ziegler of Outsports.com:

I personally don’t know (whether Te’o is gay). But it seems to be the question everyone is asking. If he is, I hope he finds strength and acceptance; The vast majority of his friends, teammates and fans will support him whole-heartedly. If he’s not, I hope he can answer some questions, because people want to know why on earth he would concoct this totally fabricated story — including eight-hour phone calls — if they never happened. I can certainly understand why people think this might be pointing to his sexual orientation. There has never been a publicly out NFL player. There has never been a publicly out Div. 1 football player. But we know they’re out there. And if they were out there and wanted to hide their sexual orientation — or a relationship with another man — a fictitious girlfriend is a good way to do it.

Boston PrideSports Awards Gala announces 2013 nominees

Posted by David Zimmerman January 4, 2013 08:33 AM

The Boston PrideSports Awards organizing committee has announced the 2013 award nominees. Winners will be announced at the Gala which will take place at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Saturday night, January 26th.

And the nominees are:

Inspiring Athlete Award

Steve Harrington – Boston Gay Basketball League
Bryan Innocenti – Tennis4All
Michael Kloc – Ironsides Rugby Football Club

Spirit Award

David Bolivar – Boston Pride Hockey
Marc Davino – Boston Gay Basketball League
Luciano Grubissich – Boston Ironsides Rugby Football Club
Richard Moore – FLAG Flag Football
John Natale – Boston Strikers Soccer Club
Caros Terra – Tennis4All
Rob Silliman – Beantown South Bowling League

Sportsmanship Award

Kiwi Diaz – Boston Ironsides Rugby Club
Cliff Gibbons – Tennis4All
Brad Mayeux – Boston Gay Basketball League
Robert Saurer – FLAG Flag Football

Organizational Awards

Jay Biethan – Liquid Assets New England Swim Team
Alexander Cerone – Boston Ironsides Rugby Football League
Jake Culley - Monday Night Bowling League
Rick Doyon – Cambridge Boston Volleyball Association
Craig Haas – FLAG Flag Football
Dave Hodges – Beantown Soft-Tip Dart League
Troy Liston – Boston Strikers Soccer Club
Elaine Otte – Beantown Softball League
Bob Quist – Boston Gay Basketball League
Rob Silliman – Beantown South Bowling League
Rudy Vargas – Boston Pride Hockey
Chris Wood – Tennis4All


Winners will be announced at the Gala on January 26th. Join local, out, sports columnist Steve Buckley and hundreds of local athletes and friends for a great night of food, fun, and dancing. The event is open to everyone and tickets are only $60. For more information and to purchase tickets CLICK HERE or visit BostonSpiritMagazine.com

NU welcomes gay jocks

Posted by Jim Lopata December 8, 2012 10:01 AM

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Northeastern hockey player Kelly Wallace. (photo: courtesy Northeastern University)

The Northeastern University Huskies are taking the lead in making it clear that out athletes are more than welcome

Note: the following story first appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

By Erik Borg

Gay athletes are used to being singled out. When it’s in a good way, it comes as a pleasant surprise. Northeastern Athletics Director Peter Roby recently made it clear just exactly what the athletics department at one of Boston’s largest universities thinks of them:

“If you are a young LGBT athlete looking for a place to play, we invite you to consider Northeastern University,” he proclaimed in a statement echoing support for a student-athlete-led initiative to take a stand on GLBT equality in sports.

His statement, at once bold in its significance and understated in its delivery, is likely the closest any university has come to using a stance of openness and acceptance toward sexual orientation as a tool for recruiting in athletics.

Roby calls it “just doing the right thing.”

In July, more than 50 Northeastern student-athletes, coaches, and administrators came together to film a video for You Can Play, an organization that promotes quality, respect, and safety in sports regardless of sexual orientation. Northeastern’s video was the first by an entire collegiate athletics department and one of more than 20 by professional and collegiate athletes and organizations throughout the United States and Canada. Their message in the video is simple.

FULL ENTRY

Doc Rivers discusses John Amaechi and gay players in the NBA

Posted by David Zimmerman October 29, 2012 07:06 AM

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Glen 'Doc' Rivers is about to begin his ninth season as head coach of the Boston Celtics. During that time he has seen his share of ups and downs and has handled them all with a sense of class that has restored the time honored tradition of Celtic Pride to its rightful perch in the NBA. Rivers led the Celtics to first place finishes in the Atlantic Conference for the past five years, advanced the team to the NBA Finals twice, and won the championship in 2008.

Rivers lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife Kristen and their four children. His oldest son Jeremiah plays basketball for Indiana University, while his daughter Callie played volleyball for the University of Florida. Rivers' younger son, Austin, played basketball for one year at Duke University before being drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in June of this year.

Recently Rivers sat down with Boston Spirit magazine to discuss former NBA player John Amaechi, the prospect of a gay player in the NBA, dealing with racial prejudice, and more.


Boston Spirit: You were one of the first people to come out and stand behind John Amaechi when he came out. Did you have to think about that at all? Were you worried what people might think?

Doc Rivers: No, I could care less what people thought and I didn't worry about it at all. It's not one of those things where we had to have a front office discussion. It's funny, I actually think someone in the front office wanted to have a discussion and I said 'For What? And that's how I felt about it. It was easy for me. John's a great, great guy.

BS: Was it a surprise to you when John came out?

DR: No, not really. Sexual orientation is always talked about in locker rooms just like everywhere. I was happy that he came out. It wasn't a surprise to me that he came out because he hadn't shared it — but he had, if you know what I mean. It probably was a surprise for others.

BS: Was it a surprise for his teammates?

DR: I would say it was about half and half. Later on I got some calls from some of his teammates. Some of them brought it up and some didn't some said they were surprised and some said they weren't surprised at all. What I was happiest about is that you could tell it wasn't a big deal for them. Obviously he was a bit removed because he made the announcement when he wasn't playing for us, it was later, but not one guy made a bad comment. It really wasn't a big deal.

BS: Is that your only experience during your time playing and coaching basketball with ‘the gay issue?’

DR: It's the only experience as far as someone coming out.

BS: ESPN asked some ‘experts’ recently which league would be the worst at handling a gay player and the NBA was the pick. Do you think that’s the case?

DR: I think the NBA might have been named as worst, and I don’t think it should be, because the NBA has always had an image problem, because people know who you are. They see you, the players are in shorts and tank tops, everyone sees your face and there’s only twelve of us. When you have people with baseball hats on, and helmets, you don’t really get to see them. People know us and I think that might be why the NBA got picked. I think the reaction by all the sports would be about the same. I don't think one would be better or worse than the other. Hockey has its ethics code; baseball has its own clubhouse rules, and football does too. I personally think people are more open-minded than they get credit for. I've always believed that. I remember when I was playing for the Knicks and I was doing something on Imus [the Don Imus radio program] — I think I was injured at the time — he asked me if there were any gays in basketball and I said "yeah, absolutely." The next day I got a call from the league and said "Did you say that?" and I said, "Listen guys, it’s a ratio, just look at the numbers." It was an obvious answer, it was easy.

BS: David Stern and Charles Barkley have both said that the NBA is ready for an openly gay player. In your opinion, is the league ready?

DR: I think it is. I think it would depend on the team but even with a bad team, I think it would be a story for about a week and then it would go away. It would really help if it were a good player [laughing]. If you're a bad player the team doesn't care what your sexual orientation is, and if you’re a good player the team doesn't really care what your sexual orientation is — that’s the bottom line.

BS: How about the players on the current Celtics, do they talk about a topic like this?

DR: Sexual topics come up all the time. Honestly, I try and stay out of the locker room, but I've heard them talk about everything. They argue about things. They laugh about things. And they laugh about every orientation. That’s what people do in locker rooms. But at the end of the day I think they would handle it great.

BS: Shaun Thornton of the Bruins told me that if one of the Bruins came out, he would fully support that player and he felt the rest of the team would too. He compared the team to a family. Do you feel the same thing would happen with your team?

DR: Absolutely. They would support him first, and then harass him second [laughing] — in a locker room fun way, not in a bad way. He would get razzed just like his teammates would get razzed. There would be no difference or change. I think it would be a one week story at home. Eventually one of the players would get upset because every time you go to a road game, the road reporter who hadn’t had a chance to ask the question would want to ask it and the player would finally say, "I'm done with this'" and that’s what would happen.

BS: You’ve played on and coached a lot of professional basketball teams over a number of years. How has the culture, as it relates to gay issues, changed (or not changed)? Any examples?

DR: Well, thinking in the world has changed and so if it’s changed in the world, it's changed in the locker room. I've always thought that sports is the leader, not the follower. For example, when you think of racial divisions, sports led the way, long before the active community. The reason is that we’re part of a team, and when you're part of a team that is trying to win, [teammates] don’t care what color you are; they don't care if you’re green. They just want to win. I remember in the ‘60’s, the high school I went to had a big racial riot and the thing that brought everyone together was the Proviso East basketball team that won the state title in Illinois, and all of a sudden, instead of having the state police split the road so the whites could walk on one side and the blacks on the other — they literally did that, it was on 60 Minutes — all of a sudden everybody was embraced because the team was mixed. I think that happens a lot in sports.

BS: What has shaped your way of thinking on this whole topic? Did you have any particular influences?

DR: You know, I am interracially married. I’m open minded, I've always been open minded. I don't think there was one thing that influenced me. My father was a cop, my mother worked on an assembly line. I don't like anyone that is prejudiced. I dealt with it growing up in Chicago. I don’t think you should be judged by anything except for your actions and what you do. That’s just the way I was brought up. Look, there are going to be people who hate in everything. There are people who hate me for being an awful coach or for being black or being whatever. That’s just the way it is. Like Bill Cosby said, he had the number one show on television for five or six years and he got 100,000 hate letters a year. So it goes to show, you’re not going to please everyone.


Boston Spirit magazine is New England's premier lgbt magazine. Click Here for a free subscription.

MassEquality calls on the New England Patriots to produce an It Gets Better video

Posted by David Zimmerman October 22, 2012 01:48 PM


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In response to an October 10th tweet from New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, MassEquality has called on Spikes, and the New England Patriots team, to produce an It Gets Better video. MassEquality's Executive Director Karen Sufredini, pointing out in a statement that the tweet took place in the middle of National Anti-Bullying Month, noted the need to focus on "continued action to make all people, particularly young people, feel safer."

She goes on to say;

For too long anti-LGBT putdowns—whether they are made on the playground or on social media—have been simply laughed off. But bullying is not a joke. In Massachusetts, which as the first state in the nation to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples is seen as a beacon of equality for the rest of the nation, one-third of Massachusetts gay, lesbian, and bisexual students report that they’ve experienced bullying.

LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and eight times more likely to when their families reject them; up to 40 percent of our unaccompanied homeless youth population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the vast majority of them are living alone on the streets because their families have, in fact, rejected them. Gay and bisexual men represent four out of 10 new diagnoses of HIV, and the state Department of Public Health reports that the mere fact of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Massachusetts results in higher stress and poorer health outcomes.

Failing to take seriously offensive remarks by public figures is one of the reasons why we see statistics like those. If Brandon Spikes is serious about the fact that he was joking, then let him prove it by making an 'It Gets Better' video. In fact, we like to see the New England Patriots join the Boston Red Sox in making an 'It Gets Better' video. That would send a tremendous message to Pats fans everywhere that there is no place for bullying on the sports field or off.

While quite a few professional sports teams have produced It Gets Better video’s, so far the only Boston based professional team to do so is the Boston Red Sox.

Professional gay boxer wins first fight since coming out.

Posted by David Zimmerman October 20, 2012 10:20 AM


Orlando Cruz, highlighted in a recent Boston Spirit blog post (see below) as the first active professional boxer to come out as a gay man, made history again last night. Cruz, the World Boxing Organization's fourth ranked featherweight became the first openly gay boxer to step into the ring and, fittingly, he won.

Cruz won a unanimous decision again Jorge Pazos in Kissimmee Florida.

"That was my moment, my opportunity, my event, and I won," said Cruz. "I was very happy that they respect me. That's what I want — them to see me as a boxer, as an athlete and as a man in every sense of the word," he continued.

###########################

For the first time in the history of professional boxing, an active fighter has come out as gay. Featherweight Orlando Cruz, a 2000 Puerto Rican Olympian with a professional record of 18 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw, released a statement yesterday in which he called himself “a proud gay man.”

From the statement:

"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."

"I don't want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always bring his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life."

"I want to thank my family, especially my mom, who's my inspiration and my best reason to continue to live and my brother and my sister. I want to thank my friends for their love and support. And I also want to thank my team for believing in me and being so supportive not only in this decision, but throughout my career. I am and will always be a proud Puerto Rican gay man."

Cruz’s next fight is scheduled for October 19th , against Jorge Pazos, in Kissimmee, Florida.

Boston Spirit magazine, New England’s premier LGBT magazine, is published six times per year. For a free subscription click here.

What a Week! Colin Powell, NFL Rookies, a Gay Cricketer, and Target's Gone Gay

Posted by David Zimmerman May 24, 2012 07:52 AM

What a week so far. Typically most of the blog posts do their ‘week in review’ posts on a Friday but we just couldn’t wait. Here’s a little rundown of some highlights from this week so far:

Former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell supports marriage equality. Powell made the remarks in an interview taped for CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. In talking with Blitzer, Powell cited his LGBT friends and their committed relationships as a driving force in his support.

Colin Powell is the latest in a string of leaders within the African-American community to support marriage equality – joining Russell Simmons, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Jay-Z. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows African-American support for marriage equality at 59 percent – an all-time high. The poll also found support for marriage equality nationwide at 53 percent – the latest in a series of national polls to show a majority of Americans supporting the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry.

Powell’s support also is indicative of increasing support for marriage equality among fair-minded Republicans. An NBC News/WSJ poll released yesterday showed support for marriage equality at nearly 50 percent among Republicans under the age of 35.

Moving on....

For all of you international sports fans, England cricket player Steven Davies became the first professional cricketer to come out. Davis, 24, said in a recent interview "I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public." He went on to say “This is the right time for me…I feel it is right to be out in the open about my sexuality. If more people do it, the more acceptable it will become. That must be a good thing. To speak out is a massive relief for me, but if I can just help one person to deal with their sexuality then that's all I care about."

In keeping with the sports theme, Outsports.com recently attended a series of National Football League rookie events and found that a great many ‘soon to be’, current, and former NFL players would have no problem with a gay teammate. And one former professional player, Ahman Green, went so far as to open up about his gay brother and lesbian sister. It’s a very interesting article in which the common theme seemed to be ‘as long as a person can play and help the team win, that’s all that matters’

Oh, and finally, Target (yes, THAT Target, the recipient of an lgbt boycott for some questionable campaign donations) has launched an lgbt T-Shirt line, several of which were designed by rockstar Gwen Stefani.

So, what have we learned?
1. Colin Powell is in favor of marriage equality
2. England has its first publicly out professional cricket player
3. Many of the NFL’s incoming rookies would have no problem with a gay teammate, and
4. Target has launched an lgbt T-Shirt line

All in all, not a bad week

The Bruins’ Shawn Thornton Talks About What If A Teammate Was Gay

Posted by Jim Lopata April 11, 2012 04:04 PM

Thornton_Shawn_2010-11Head_Credit Steve Babineau-NHLI via Getty Images_a.jpg
Bruins' Shawn Thornton (photo credit: Steve Babineau)

In an exclusive interview, the bruising six-foot-two-inch, 217-pound left winger tells what it might be like if one of his fellow hockey players came out

By David Zimmerman

Shawn Thornton loves Boston.

Boston loves Shawn Thornton.

That has been the case since the day Thornton arrived in town to play for our Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. 

Thornton, 34, is a bruising six-foot-two-inch, 217-pound, left winger for the Bruins who throws punches as hard as his slap shot. In fact, more than a few unfortunate opponents would argue that the punches are actually much harder. He is known as the team’s ‘enforcer,’ the player assigned to protect his teammates and often fights to do so.

You wouldn’t necessarily think that Thornton, the enforcer from a “blue collar, industrial town about 20 minutes outside of Toronto” would be first in line for a sit-down with an LGBT publication like Boston Spirit. You would be wrong. Thornton met with Boston Spirit recently for an exclusive one-on-one interview.

Boston Spirit: What do you think would happen if one of your teammates announced he was gay?

FULL ENTRY

What Does Tom Brady Think of Gay Marriage?

Posted by Jim Lopata January 13, 2012 09:22 AM

He's never made a public statement on the issue. What do you think?

By James A. Lopata

What does Tom Brady think of gay marriage?

Boston Spirit magazine placed a request to his press peeps for a statement from him awhile ago. 

Nothing yet.

You’d think it’d be a slam-dunk — or, perhaps, an easy field goal — for the most popular athlete in Massachusetts — the first state to legalize equal marriage — to simply say “I do” when asked if he believes a gay person should be allowed to marry whomever he or she loves.

If it’s not that easy for him to say he does, well, then, that got us wondering — hmmm ... what if he doesn’t support gay marriage?

Ouch, that would really hurt.

It’s true that the world of professional team sports has been the last vanguard for mainstream acceptance of LGBT issues.

No major national football, baseball, basketball, or hockey player has ever come out as gay while still on active roster. Perhaps there is still a fear of upsetting fans.

Brady's reticence is understandable.

The truth is that so many of us LGBTs love Tom so much, that, honestly, we’d really rather not know if he doesn’t love us quite the same way back.

Like a junior high crush, we’re too afraid to ask and know the truth. We’d rather live in the twinkling possibility that he does.

FULL ENTRY
About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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