It’s hard to imagine that less than two years ago it was illegal in most states for same-sex couples to marry. While I know there is still a long way to go in securing equal rights for every LGBTQ individual, I’d like to take a moment and celebrate what has been achieved.
One of my early role models within the LGBTQ community was certainly Brian Sims. For those few of you who might not be familiar with Brian, he came out as gay to his college football team in 2000 and still was a regional All-American and team captain of the Bloomsburg University team. By coming out, he was the first openly gay football captain in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
But that is only part of Brian’s story. He went on to earn his J.D. degree from the Michigan School of Law. As an LGBTQ advocate, he has served as president of Equality Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia and served on the faculty of the Center for Progressive Leadership. He has also served as a member of the national campaign board of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
I was fortunate to interview Brian before he announced his bid to run for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. During the interview he told me off the record that he was thinking of running and I was hopeful then that he would follow through and win a seat in his Philadelphia legislative district.
Eventually Brian did announce his intention to run and won the election. In 2013 he was sworn in as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He became the first openly gay legislator elected in the state’s history.
Even though I do not live in Pennsylvania (though our editor-in-chief hails from Beaver Falls), Brian has made an impact outside his state’s border. He has made a name for himself by being a strong advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBTQ equality. It is because of voices and actions like his that the United States government legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.
So, yes, we have come a long way. But we have a long way to go. Brian is the perfect example of how sports and love can go together to make life better for the LGBTQ community. Let’s follow Brian’s lead.
Eric Carlyle, S.D.L.
— Rep. Brian Sims (@RepSims) January 17, 2017