By Connie Wardman
When you have a cause that burns bright in your heart, when you work to better the culture in which we live, it can be, as the old saying goes, easy to miss the forest for the trees. Sometimes we need to stop and refocus on the forest, on the big picture. It’s only then that we can clearly see just how far we’ve come … and just how far we need to go.
In this issue we have stories from two important LGBT athlete advocates – Wade Davis and Billy Bean. These two formerly closeted professional athletes are using their experiences to build bridges between the worlds of sports and the gay community. They give us that all-important big picture view of the current state of the sports diversity movement.
From his initial experiences as a closeted gay man in the NFL to his coming out in 2012, Wade Davis has become an important LGBT advocate. He has continued to play football with the National Gay Flag Football League while working with at-risk youth in New York at the Hetrick-Martin Institute and the NFL as well as with his You Belong camps. And in his current position as executive director of the You Can Play Project, Wade is making important differences in today’s LGBT sports culture through his conversations on the intersection of race, gender and class.
If you know who Billy Bean is, you know he has a love for baseball that has never dimmed over the years since he retired from MLB. Yet he walked away from the game he loved so people wouldn’t find out he was gay. But his life has come full circle. Now appointed the inclusion ambassador for MLB, he has spent the five weeks of spring training this year talking with players, officials, team personnel and executives about his experiences. Billy is also making important differences in a league ready to again take the lead in inclusion and acceptance.
We also have the touching story of Lauren Hill, the high school senior who dreamed of playing college basketball before her inoperable brain tumor took her life. If you have ever doubted your power to make a difference in our shared world, I hope the stories of these three people will inspire you to help us at Compete as we work to unite the world through sports.
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