There have been so many of these lists in the previous weeks. I've read several on this topic alone, and the great thing is that they all agree that 2012 was a truly banner year - to use a sports metaphor - for the elevation of this conversation into the public consciousness.
This happened thanks to the groundwork laid by the advocates who have been working towards LGBT inclusion for decades - people like Helen Carrol from NCLR, Pat Griffin from GLSEN's Changing the Game initiative, Robert Brigham, pioneering wrestler-turned-writer, and far too many others to name.
While those names have remained at the forefront of the conversation, they have been joined in the last several years by a new generation of advocates.
OutSports founders Cyd Zeigler and Jim Buzinsky, Athlete Ally's Hudson Taylor, You Can Play creator Patrick Burke, basketball player and inspiring lecturer Kye Allums, Pat's colleagues Nevin Caple from Changing the Game, British rugby champ StandUp Foundation founder Ben Cohen, GO! Athletes Executive Director Anna Aagenes, and again - far too many others to name.
These LGBT advocates have also been joined by the voices of LGBT people and allies from within the world of professional sports, like Chris Kluwe, Brendan Ayanbadejo, Rick Welts, Steve Buckley, Jared Max, and you know what, you guys didn't come here to read a bunch of text.
This is my list of what I consider to have been the ten most memorable LGBT sports moments of 2012, in what I think is the order in which they occurred, except at the very end.
You Can Play Project Launches
An extraordinary gathering of players from the NHL participated in "The Faceoff" - the first video released by the You Can Play Project, led by Patrick Burke. Never before had so many active professional athletes lent their voices to a singular vision of LGBT inclusion. This sent an incredibly powerful message - not just to the LGBT community, but to fellow pro athletes.
MLS Suspends Colin Clark
In the first of a handful of incidents this year of athletes using anti-gay language, Major League Soccer became the first pro sports league to suspend a player solely for using anti-gay language. More importantly however, Clark himself recognized the impact that anti-gay slurs can have on others - saying "I intend to never use those words again in any context. There is no excuse for them. What I said does not properly represent who I am or what I believe. I made a mistake that I truly regret."
Retired NFL Player Wade Davis Comes Out
Davis, a cornerback who played with Tennessee Titans, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Washington Redskins, spoke first with Outsports and SB Nation about being a gay athlete. In the months since, Davis has been a powerful voice for LGBT inclusion - and has given encouragement to LGBT athletes around the world.
Nike Hosts First-Ever LGBT Sports Summit
This was an incredible experience to have been a part of - sitting at the same table (or tables) with all the advocates mentioned above and others like GLSEN's Robert McGarry, Campus Pride's Shane Windmeyer, and I'm going to get in trouble if I keep naming names because inevitably I'll miss one, and allow me to simply say that every single person at the summit, without exception, added significantly to the discussion, and is a key part of moving our culture forward.
Yunel Escobar Suspended for Writing Anti-Gay Slur on Eye-Black
Just like with Colin Clark, the importance of this event was not the suspension Escobar received, it was the conversation that followed. Toronto's sports media made a powerful statement, almost uniformly rallying behind the city's LGBT community. The Blue Jays donated Escobar's salary for the three games he was suspended to GLAAD's and YCP's efforts to make sports a safer space for
LGBT fans and athletes. And Escobar himself - after his initial press conference, during which he still didn't quite get the importance of using that slur - seems to now truly understand the influence he has as a professional athlete, and has expressed support for the LGBT community.
World Class Boxer Orlando Cruz Comes Out
Easily the highest-profile male athlete to have come out while still competing, Olympian featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz instantly became a role model for millions this year. He told USA Today "I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."
All Major American Pro Sports Leagues Go Purple for #SpiritDay
For so long, sports has been simply accepted by our culture at large as a "safe space" (pardon the misuse of the expression) for casual homophobia. By definition, that meant that the world of sports was an unsafe space for LGBT people and their allies. This year, sports fans around the country and around the world saw that this wall of exclusion was well on its way to coming down. I am extremely proud and grateful that GLAAD has been able to play some role in all of these moments.
Allright, you got me. I only had nine. So I'm going to cheat here, and end with one that was incredibly important to me on a personal level as a sports fan - but this one won't really fit with the others.
Also, you might not want to continue if you're a Rangers or Angels fan.
(are they gone?)
2012 Oakland Athletics win American League West
Ending on a totally personal note - my daughter was born in December, and I spent many a night this Spring, Summer, and early Autumn parked in front of the TV with her, trying to get her to fall asleep. Or more accurately, fall back asleep. So I'd like to personally thank the Oakland A's, whom I've been following since the days of Dave Stewart and Terry Steinbach, for giving me the most fun I've ever had watching a baseball season unfold.
Zeigler's book covers treatment of LGBTQ athletes, touching on bullying and hazing that has surrounded, and continues to surround, LGBTQ athletes, specifically in high school and college, while weaving in stories of LGBT athletes and allies such as Michael Irvin, Fallon Fox, and Michael Sam, among others.
GLAAD and Interscope Records today released “Hands,” a musical tribute to the victims of Orlando, featuring Mary J Blige, Jason Derulo, Tyler Glenn, Selena Gomez, Halsey, Ty Herndon, Imagine Dragons, Juanes, Adam Lambert, Mary Lambert, Jennifer Lopez, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Kacey Musgraves, MNEK, Alex Newell, P!nk, Prince Royce, Nate Ruess, RuPaul, Troye Sivan, Jussie Smollett, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, and Meghan Trainor. The tribute will be made available in the U.S. at iTunes exclusively.