I am so thrilled and honored to announce that I am officially part of Athlete Ally, a growing organization that is committed to bringing about equality in sports through sports.
As is the case in the rest of the world, homophobia is widespread in sports, and the folks at Athlete Ally have decided to make that end. It is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization founded by wrestler Hudson Taylor, who witnessed the homophobic slurs and decided to take a stand. Together with a growing number of collegiate and professional Ambassadors, Athlete Ally hopes to educate and bring about a message of respect and equality in sports worldwide.
This came to my awareness via Twitter (social media at its best!) after seeing the announcement of 18 National Women’s Soccer League players who were named as Athlete Ally Ambassadors a few weeks ago. As you’re no doubt aware (unless you’ve been living under a rock and/or don’t know be but at all, I’m kind of a big fan of the US women’s soccer team, and women’s soccer in general. So to see these women, some of whom are gay, some of whom are straight, step up and become more vocal in this cause made me want to do the same.
I expressed interest to Athlete Ally and was immediate embraced. Brian Healey, the Pro Ambassador coordinator and social media guru, was incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic, which just made my own passion for this all the more!
With a little encouragement by my oldest brother David, who is gay (and wonderful, by the way), I wrote a truthful response to a few questions and BAM.
Being a development-level athlete training hard to break onto the National Team, I often don’t get an opportunity to represent my ideals and my sport at the same time, or if I do, I’ve been too afraid to. Athlete Ally is giving me a great cause with which to start having more confidence in myself. I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter the level of athlete when a chance like this comes along. When it comes to equality, everyone deserves a chance to be treated like everyone else, and if I have the platform to support that, then I’m going to take full advantage.
There are things in the blog post that I’ve never told more than a few people, and it was certainly a struggle to make it known to perhaps thousands or tens of thousands of people. But a friend reminded me of something: there was probably someone out in the world who was struggling with the same things I am. Perhaps my speaking out about it would empower them to do the same, or at least help them accept things better.
I’m now in shockingly new territory: I’ve never been a part of something that reaches so many people. I’ve never been in a true media spotlight. And while this might not reach as many people like it would if I had done an interview with NBC or a major media network, my joining Athlete Ally puts me smack in the middle of one of the biggest campaigns in the century. I am aware that I’m going to get abuse from some about what I said in the blog post. Indeed, I’ve already seen a scoff of a comment (I know, I know…I’m not supposed to read the comments section. It just makes one mad) about my choice of words, but you know what? I’m proud of myself for saying it. And I know that I’ll be supported by my new team with Athlete Ally.
I’m so honored to be standing up against homophobia next to incredible athletes like Megan Rapinoe, who came out just prior to the 2012 London Olympics, Heather O’Reilly (who may just be the most hilarious pride Ally ever), Andy Roddick, Yogi Berra and so many other athletes. It’s humbling and invigorating at the same time.
It’s a particularly important time to be joining Athlete Ally with the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi fast approaching. Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws have been the subject of much controversy leading up to the Games, and as such, athletes and the IOC will have a tremendous platform to try and make a change. While I may or may not be at the Games , it is crucial for the message of equality to continue to be spread. It might not be the easiest nor safest route, but I believe it is the right thing to do.
Development athlete, Olympic athlete, youth athlete, gay, straight, bisexual. It doesn’t matter, really. Athlete Ally wants anyone and everyone to take a stand. As Kenneth Faried is quoted on Athlete Ally’s homepage: “Sports knows no sexual orientation.”