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4 Reasons April was Amazing for Gay Acceptance in Sports

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4) Nike to Gay Players on Coming Out: Just Do It, We’ll Support You

In a sporting world where money talks, the fear has always been that an openly gay player — while supported by members of their teams and coaching staff — might lose out on sponsors and thus render them unpalatable for selection. Few companies display open hostility toward openly LGBT players but, without explicit statements advocating for gay players to come out, the idea has persisted. But not anymore.

Former Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts, who came out in a New York Times piece in 2011, revealed that prior to his coming out, he informed Nike representatives in order to give them adequate time to prepare for subsequent media attention. Welts, now president of the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors, said in a phone interview with Bloomburg at the beginning of April: “They made it clear to me Nike would embrace it.”

Welts then went on to say, “The player who does it [comes out], they’re going to be amazed at the additional opportunities that are put on the table, not the ones that are taken off.”

And, indeed, Welts’ assertion seems to be on the money.

While Brittney Griner might not have made big headlines for affirming her identity, she is making headlines for being the latest Nike sponsor signing, becoming the first openly gay Nike endorsed player.

So what’s making the difference?

Sponsors getting behind LGBT athletes is certainly a strong factor. Also, vocal straight allies from within the sporting sphere such as former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, have all contributed to setting a new standard in respectful and openly positive discourse surrounding LGBT players, and even wider issues like marriage equality.

Also, there is now a concerted effort among sports governing bodies to tackle issues surrounding anti-LGBT bias and gay inclusion, with the National Hockey League (NHL)’s continued involvement with the gay-affirming You Can Play Project, and the National Football League meeting with LGBT groups to open a dialogue about discrimination.

Now that Jason Collins has come out, a watershed moment by any standard, the conversation around LGBT athletes looks set to change forever, and what a way to round out a largely very positive month for gay inclusion in sports.


Related Reading:

NBA is First Professional Sports League to Address Anti-Gay Discrimination

NFL Players Ready to Welcome Gay Teammates

12 People We Are Grateful Came Out in 2012

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5:08AM PDT on May 7, 2013


3:25AM PDT on May 6, 2013

Thanks Steve.

4:01PM PDT on May 4, 2013

A SHOWER of green stars to Lyn B, who quietly and truthfully expresses the WHY so many of you ''Christians"" whine about when you insist that same-sex couples are ''jamming their lifestyle down our throats!"

3:58PM PDT on May 4, 2013

When the bible bangers stop insisting that the entire world must live by their hypocritical rules...that's when!

3:11PM PDT on May 4, 2013

When will the time for sexual preference not become a major media event?

3:48AM PDT on May 4, 2013

Good for Nike! Really! It's good to see players feeling that they can be who they really are without fear.

And Carol M, it WASN'T "made known that Tim Tebow is an Xian" he flouted it on the playing field. Rubbed in it everyone's face in inappropriate ways DURING the game. So get over it. No one asked Tebow to hide that he was Xian, they just expected him not to turn his religion into game-time theater.

1:22AM PDT on May 3, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

12:51AM PDT on May 3, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

12:16AM PDT on May 3, 2013

Additionally, and I've posted this before, it's also all the little things straight people take for granted like being able to walk hand in hand with your partner possibly also along with your child/children without being beaten up or killed for doing so.

We come out so we can have the same types of pictures on our desks/walls at work; pictures of us on vacation with our partner or our partner and our children or dogs or whatever!
So we can safely come to the holiday party with our significant other/partner/husband/wife.
So we can get married if we love that deeply.
So we can have a family if that's what we truly want.
So we can have equal rights when it comes to the law.
So we can be in a hospital and NOT have our life partner denied the right to see me, to help me, to love me. To have that same partner be able to make life/death decisions instead of strangers or worse, family who Hate me!
So we can go to a restaurant, a sporting event and again NOT DIE or be beaten up for doing so.
And yes, it's STILL that dangerous for all of us, LGBTQ's, JUST depending on who we sit next to, what city/state/country we live in.
And I'm not talking even talking about PDA's (public displays of affection). I'm just saying holding hands. Now mind you, ALL of us LGBTQ's have to put up with hetereosexual PDA's ALL THE TIME! Sometimes some of the grossest stuff imaginable!

None of us want to "flaunt" our sex lives. What we want is equality.

12:11AM PDT on May 3, 2013

This post is in response to "why must sexual preferences be shared".
I have shared most of this before but obviously it bears repeating.

I agree that we shouldn't have to tell or share all of our "business" although that's EXACTLY what Everyone does anyway, currently via social media. BUT the reality is that if people stay silent, nothing changes.

The point of celebrating people with high visibility (actors, athletes, politicians, etc) coming out is that it helps to put a face to the label, to the idea or concept. It helps humanize the label.
It starts to show that although someone says that they don't know anyone that's gay or bi or fill in the blank, that, Yes, they Do know someone and maybe today that someone is only on the tv but that may make them realize that they Do know someone in "real" life.

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