Is Pride still relevant? I think it is. Look at the news over the last couple of months – hate-filled discriminatory bathroom bills and rhetoric against transgender individuals; tennis legend Margaret Court comparing them to Nazis. NBA star LeBron James has had his California home covered in racial graffiti. And outrageous public behavior by tennis great Ilie Nastase got him suspended from the French Open for racist remarks about Serena Williams’ baby, public sexual advances to a female tennis coach, verbally assaulting Great Britain’s players followed by two angry run-ins with a reporter who wrote about all of it.
This can’t be written off as an older generation behaving badly. Two Division I schools, Notre Dame and Boston College have refused to sign an NCAA diversity pledge that says a school will commit to focus on “ethnic and racial diversity” in the hiring process. Notre Dame wants to retain control over such important decisions while Boston College contends the pledge doesn’t go far enough. For either objection, the solution is to work within part of a larger group, not to go it alone.
Meaningful progress can’t be made without consistent visibility that carries a positive message speaking to our universal inalienable right as human beings to be treated with equality, dignity and respect. And that is Compete’s mission – “to unite the world through sports.” In this issue you’ll see stories of gay and straight athletes having a great time playing a variety of sports together, you’ll read about WNBA star Layshia Clarendon, a devout Christian who is an outspoken advocate on LGBTQ and racial issues as well as several people who are participating in the seven-day AIDS/LifeCycle’s “Ride to end AIDS.”
People need to see that yes, there are problems with homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism and sexism in sports. But they also need to see that positive changes are happening. So whether you’re playing sports, going to a concert, marching in a parade or just hanging out with friends over Pride, honor and celebrate the past, present and future individuals involved in this crucial movement to gain equality, diversity and inclusion in sports. Pride really is relevant!
Connie Wardman, M.A., SDL
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