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You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
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8 LGBT Athletes Breaking Barriers
In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL. This landmark wasn’t exactly the triumph LGBT athletes and fans hoped for, however, since the star college player wasn’t picked up until late in the draft, and was eventually cut from both the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys, leaving many to question whether the NFL was a hostile environment toward gay players. While Michael Sam eventually joined a team in the Canadian Football League, it’s hard not to wonder if his sexuality, rather than his athletic ability, kept him off the field.
It’s not just in the NFL that LGBT athletes have had to deal with obstacles. In nearly every professional sport, openly gay athletes are still anomalies, with sexual orientation still presenting hurdles both on and off the field. Luckily, more and more athletes are coming out, increasing LGBT visibility and representation in athletics.
Hopefully these eight athletes will continue breaking down barriers in their sports and beyond, working to make LGBT athletes more visible through their success:
1 | Tom Bosworth
British track and field Olympic hopeful Tom Bosworth recently made headlines for announcing he’s gay, becoming only the second British track and field athlete to come out. Bosworth has been vocal about the negative reactions he’s had to deal with, but has also spoken out about the support he’s received from other high-profile British athletes. Bosworth was inspired to come out by British diver, Tom Daley.
2 | Jason Collins
Jason Collins became the first openly gay NBA player in 2013 when he came out in a Sports Illustrated article. While he’s mostly chosen to keep details of his life and relationships private, Collins has spoken several times about tolerance and acceptance, and even chose the number 98 for his Jersey to commemorate the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. His shirt rose to the top sales spot on NBA.com. Proceeds were donated to two LGBT charities.
3 | Mason Darrow
Princeton offensive lineman Mason Darrow is the only openly gay athlete in college football’s Division 1. OutSports detailed the difficult decision he made to come out, along with the overwhelming support he’s received from his teammates and coaching staff. Darrow even stated that coming out to his teammates was “the best decision [he’s] ever made,” and his story shows that the anti-gay bias in sports may not be as deep as most people assume.
4 | Brittney Griner
While her high-profile domestic dispute and divorce from fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson has made the news recently, it’s hard to deny that Brittney Griner is one of the most high-profile lesbian athletes working today. Along with being the number one draft pick in 2013 and landing an endorsement deal with Nike, Griner led the Phoenix Mercury to its third WNBA championship in September 2014.
5 | Martina Navratilova
Often cited as one of the few superstars to come out at the height of her fame, openly lesbian tennis pro Martina Navratilova spent 332 weeks as the top-ranked singles player and a record 237 weeks in doubles. In addition to her impressive record of Grand Slam wins, Navratilova is also a visible supporter of gay rights, winning HRC’s Equality Award in 2000. Tennis Magazine named her the greatest female tennis player from 1965 to 2005.
6 | Megan Rapinoe
U.S. Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe is the only athlete, male or female, to ever score a Goal Olimpico–scoring a goal directly from a corner kick–in an Olympic soccer match, contributing to the women’s team winning the gold medal in 2012. Rapinoe is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights, supporting the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and receiving the 2013 Board of Directors Award from the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
7 | Adam Rippon
U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon, who came out in October 2015, has been a pro figure skater for 14 years, skating in 3 world championships and winning the U.S. silver medal. While he stated that “being gay is not something that defines [him],” he also called for more openness and normalization of being out as an athlete because it shifts the focus away from speculation on sexual orientation and back to accomplishments and results.
8 | Sarah Vaillancourt
Canadian hockey player Sarah Vaillancourt made the national team at 18, and was a member of the team that won Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010. Early in her career at Harvard University, Vaillancourt came out, boldly stating that if her team had a problem with her sexuality, she would leave, making her a role model of pride and resiliency for both players and spectators. During her years at Harvard she was ranked fourth overall in the NCAA.
The Future for LGBT Athletes
There are plenty of other LGBT athletes out there, but many choose to stay in the closet out of concern that their sexuality will bring backlash from teammates, coaching staff, or even the public. Hopefully, as more high-profile athletes come out, LGBT athletes will be less of a rarity and we can rightfully focus on their abilities and accomplishments instead of worrying, as some NFL representatives did with Michael Sam, about the “distraction” of having a gay player.
What do you think about the current athletic landscape for LGBT athletes? Is there anyone we missed, and do you think professional leagues are doing enough to support and include LGBT players? Let us know what you think!