Collegiate wrestling star and current coach at Columbia University (and GLAAD media-trained ally) Hudson Taylor was on MSNBC yesterday with anchor Thomas Roberts, discussing his Athlete Ally project, and the Athlete Ally pledge:
I pledge to lead my athletic community toward respecting and welcoming all persons, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Beginning right now, I will do my part to promote the best of athletics by making all players feel respected on and off the field.
Athlete Ally encourages athletes, coaches, parents, fans and other members of the sports community to respect all individuals involved in sports, regardless of perceived or actual sexual-orientation or gender identity or expression. By working to create inclusive atmospheres in locker rooms and on courts and fields across the country, people like Hudson are opening doors for people like 17-year-old Emma DeIsohn, a senior basketball player at an all-girls Catholic school in Southern California, who tells her heartwarming and encouraging story of coming out to her teammates at OutSports this week.
Walking into that gym that next day was beyond nerve-wracking. I picked up a ball, just like every other day, and started form-shooting. As I was lining up my elbow, one of my other teammates made a remark about my feet (I am extremely pigeon-toed, and had become used to the gentle abuse). However, the next voice I heard was (team captain) Mary-Kate, verbally assaulting my other teammate for attacking my feet, even going as far to call me "awesome." Never had I been so obviously stuck up for -- she gave me an affirming nod, and kept on shooting.
As we wrote earlier this year, the world of athletics can sometimes seem like a hostile place for people who are LGBT, or even LGBT-friendly, but it doesn't have to be. People like Hudson and Emma should inspire us all to work for inclusion and respect wherever we see intolerance. More than 1,800 people have signed the Athlete Ally pledge - let's make that number continue to rise.