This year there have been many history-making moments within sports for the LGBT community. Take a look at some of the highlights below:
Robbie Rogers made history when he came out in his personal blog, he also announced his retirement from the game at the same time. Rogers became the latest American male pro team athlete to come out and stop playing his sport.
The 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins became the first out gay active male pro-athlete in the history of America's major leagues. The article was written by Collins and published in Sports Illustrated. In his article, Collins revealed that he has worn the number 98 on his uniform in memory of the year Matthew Shepard was killed. Thanks to Collins' toughness and longevity, nearly every active player in the NBA has either played with or against him at some point in their careers. And thanks to his courage, every single one of those players has learned a new definition of what it means to be gay. As of recenlty, Jason Collins remains as a free-agent.
Robbie Rogers reutned to the game of MLS when he signed with the LA Galazy. Rogers became the second male pro team athlete in the US to be out while actively playing. He was also the first ever to set foot on the field during the league's season. The reaction to Roger's announcement in February was overwhelmingly positive, and the reception he recieved whi his new team was perhaps more important because there wasn't much of one at all.
A new chapter in sports history occurred as the Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame unveiled its first class of inductees in Chicago. Inductees included famed MLB umpire Dave Pallone, tennis stars Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, NBA's Jason Collins, as well as straight athlete-activists Ben Cohen and Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Robbie Ross, a pitcher with the Texas Rangers, and his wife, Brittany, appeared in a NOH8 campaign photo shoot. The NOH8 campaign looks to end homophobia and promote marriage equality through a photographic silent protest. The photos show subjects with duct tape covering their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silencesd. The significance of Ross and his wife posing in such photo is that they couple wanted to openly display their religous beliefs all while showing their support for the LGBT community. Through their religous beliefs, he and his wife believe that as Christians they should love everyone and express love to everyone. The couple felt that participating in the NOH8 campaign would be the best way to convey their beliefs and show their support. Other athletes and sport administrators have joined the movement; Baltimore Ravens linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo, former U.S. Junior Men's Champion Nicholas LaRoche, and NBA Executive Rick Welts are only to name a few. College and University athletic programs have also taken the intiative to start the conversation about LGBT issues in sports.
Dereck Schell became the first openly gay NCAA Division II basketball player at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Playing a sport and being an athlete has always been in his family. Being brought up in the sports world, Schell knew the stigmas and stereotypes that are embedded in the culture. He knew that there are certain standards of masculinity that were to be held in sports, and he has always strived to live up to them; such viewpoints though conflicted withhis feelings. Not only was Dereck Schell able to be true to who he is, he also has support. The support from his family took time, but they are loving and accepting of who he is. He has high hopes that his story will help many generations to follow. Schells hopes that his story will help other young LGBT athletes and students to realize their true worth and to see that they are perfect the way they are.
On October 17, 2013, the MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA, NHL, NFL, UFC, and WWE all joined GLAAD for Spirit Day. These major professional sports leagues and entertainment organizations are all going purple for Spirit Day for the second year in a row! They all showed their supoort for LGBT youth everywhere in a united stand against bullying. Pro-sports leagues weren't the only ones who are pro-LGBT youth. Individual athletes Kye Allums, jason Collins, Brittney Griner, and WWE Superstar Darren Young were all among this year's Sprit Day ambassadors.
Portland Trailblazers took their team name to another level by aligning themselves with Oregon United for Marriage and supporting marriage equality. Along with the Timbers and Thornes, Portland's professional men's and women's soccer teams respectively, are the first professional sports teams to endorse gay marriage.
On October 19, the Florida Panthers hosted an event at the BT&T center for LGBT players and fans. The Panthers team is one of the first teams to incorporate a new "You Can Play" project which was introduced by the NFL. The You Can Play project was co-founded by NFL Director of Player Safety Patrick Burke. The mission behind the project is that is an athlete has the skill and can play, then they can play; they look to eliminate homophobia in sport through inclusion.
Nike has kicked equality in sports into high gear with their #BeTrue campaign. The #BeTrue line of gear launched early in 2013 had all proceeds donated to the LGBT Sports Coalition. The Coalition works to eradicate bias against LGBT people in sports. The donation culminated last month at $200,000 making it the largest gift to an LGBT cause in Nike's hisotry. The generous funds will help benefit projects that create LGBT-inclusive climates for athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans in schools, colleges, recreational, and professional sports. Thanks to Nike and its #BeTrue supporters, sports teams, leagues, players, and fans will continue to create an equal playing field from the little leagues all the way up to the majors.
The Los Angeles Dodgers spread their armsout wide towelcome more than just theie opponents and regular fans on a Friday night. For the first time in the team's history, LGBT Night Out was celebrated and hosted at Dodger Stadium. This event specifically welcomed LGBT fans to the crowd. The team also brought a few familiar faces in the gay culture to the field for a pre-game ceremony. Amber Riley, from Glee, Lance Bass, former 'N Sync, Billy Bean, former Dodger outfielder, and Jason Collins, were are a part of the celebretory night. Hosting the LGBT Night OUT event was trailblazing for the LGBT community.
A new website, www.transathlete.com, was launched by Chris Mosier. He is not only the founder of the site but is also an athlete, coach and educator. The site will serves as a resouce for students, atheltes, coaches, and administrators to find infomration about trans* inclusion in athletics at various levels of play. It also provides a break down of information into easy-to-reference areas to help you find what you need.
Michael Drougas, a Virginia high school state tennis champ, comes out on Twitter. Only his closest friends and family knew he was gay. In his letter, he talked about the misconceptions and stereotypes that exist pertaining to what it means to be gay. He hopes to shatter such misconceptions. Perople have known him as a great tennis player and he wants to keep it that way. He wants other athletes or high school students to be able to say "hey, that kid is like me".
You Can Play, an advocacy organization dedicated to building bridges between the LGBT community and the world of athletics launched it's "High Five" initiative which will work to create meaningful connections between LGBT youth and leaders within the professional sports community. Team sports in th U.S. are one area in which have stayed rigidly exclusive of openly gay and transgender players. You Can Play hopes to change that by engaging LGBT youth and sports professionals in direct dialgue around inclusion, creating safe spaces, and teamwork. The You Can Play Project has officially partnered with the NHL and MLS, in addition to a strong relatinoship with teh NFL. YCP proves to be a vital resource to ensure safe spaces for everyone.
British Olympic diver Tom Daley came out in a video he posted on YouTube.
Our soccer player Robbie Rogers launches Beyond "It", an anti-discrimination campaign whose sole purpose is to create fundraising platforms inspired by their human-centered philosophy and mission to fund initiatives that move the world beyond "it". The "it" being labels and stereotypes that limit people's value and worth. Beyond "It" hopes to stand behind forward thinkng initiatives that will take a stand against all forms of human discrimination. The first big public push will be the widespread distribution of a magnetic green bar designed to be worn on a shirt that Rogers hopes athletes will wear at the Sochi Olympics as an act of protest against Russia's anti-LGBT laws.
The way in which sports fans have reacted has proved that the progress we've made in the world of sports over the last few years is real, tangible and truly historic.
(Editor's note: This post was originally published by SDGLN content partner GLAAD.)