At Compete, we hear people ask the same question every year – they want to know if, in 2018 a Pride celebration is still relevant. So this year the question is answered by three Compete writers: Dirk Smith, our gay millennial sports editor who is a fitness coach; Connie Wardman, our ally and adult educator who has both a gay son and grandson; and Ty Nolan, our gay Native American community editor who’s an experienced LGBTQ community counselor. While each has a different set of life experiences and each shares a different piece of the puzzle, they all come to the same conclusion – Pride is still relevant!
Why Pride is Still Relevant
By Dirk Smith
We are living in a “post equality America,” right? Nope. After marriage equality passed in 2015, many people asked why we still need Pride, or gay ghettos, gay games, gay bars or anything else that’s gay-specific. Many Millennials in particular wonder if we’re striving for equality, then what good is it for us to separate ourselves with our own cultural and sports events, bars, neighborhoods and other things.
However, with the country’s current political climate we’re learning that “post equality America” is simply a myth. For all the gay rights we’ve fought for, there are people who are fighting back. Remember the whole transgender bathroom issue not long ago? How about transgender people serving in the military? Did you know several states are succeeding in passing anti-LGBTQ religious freedom laws?
Basically, there are still a lot of people out there who are homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, sexist and racist who will do whatever it takes to strip of us our rights. It is still not entirely safe to be openly LGBTQ+ in America!
Why do we celebrate Pride? It’s more than just an excuse to strip down to our undies and dance around. The history of Pride begins with the 1969 Stonewall Riots that energized a generation of LGBTQ+ activists who decided they weren’t going to stay silent anymore. Hundreds of activist organizations formed and took to the streets to speak out against abusive anti-LGBTQ+ culture, laws, businesses and people.
Have you ever wondered why there’s no celebration of “Straight Pride”? Actually, that occurs every day. By and large, people have never had to fight against police harassment for being straight or for attending a bar and dancing with another person of the opposite sex. Straight people have never had organized systematic campaigns designed to instill fear in the rest of the population that they are pedophiles and perverts; this, despite the fact that the statistical majority of convicted pedophiles, including priests, are overwhelmingly straight.
The LGBTQ+ Rights movement has been a struggle; to name a few, think Anita Bryant’s national homophobic campaign, the AIDS crisis that began in the 80s and continues today, plus a frightening annual rise in the number of transgender individuals killed.
Pride is still important because it reminds us that we must unite as a community to celebrate ourselves and each other. Most importantly, we must come together to continue the fight for our rights as an organized group. Even though we share the same cause, t here is a lot of internal homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism and racism within the LGBTQ+ community. We can’t come together as a community to stand up for what’s right if we don’t take a hard look at ourselves.
Pride is one of the rare opportunities where we can truly come together as a community, letting others know we deserve dignity, inclusion, equality and acceptance just like every other human being – we aren’t going away!
As you can imagine, this is a loaded topic so my Compete colleagues Connie Wardman and Ty Nolan will also be sharing their perspectives on this important question. Stay tuned for the follow ups examining the relevance of Pride on a worldwide scale as well as how it all ties into the relevance of small and large- scale LGBTQ+ sporting events like Gay Games.
Robbie Rogers Reveals Homophobia’s Toll on LGBTQ Athletes
By Connie Wardman
I spoke with Robbie Rogers about the recent release of the trailer for the powerful feature-length documentary, “Alone In The Game” premiering on June 28. In it he, Megan Rapinoe and Gus Kenworthy as well as other collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes and athletic administrators share their feelings of isolation and frustration at being trapped in a long-accepted sports culture of discrimination. Viewing the trailer was a deeply emotional experience and we both confessed to crying over the power of the stories being told.
While he loved playing soccer, Robbie shared that his current life with husband Greg Berlanti and their son, Caleb is wonderful, a life that for years he could never dream of living. Many people wonder why he waited so long to come out. However, he believes it’s such a personal journey that you can’t give advice to someone else about coming out. Calling it a universal truth, he also said that coming out isn’t a big deal if it hasn’t happened to you or someone you love. How true! You become exquisitely vulnerable when you come out; every area of your life is put at risk without knowing what the outcome will be.
When three elite openly LGBTQ athletes like retired Major League Soccer (MLS) champion Rogers, Olympic medalist/pro soccer player Rapinoe and freeskiing Olympic medalist Kenworthy are now open about their sexual orientation, it may still come as a surprise and shock at how deeply they’ve been impacted along the way by playing in environments that are potentially unsafe unless you are closeted. This is the ugly, hidden side of competitive sports few have gotten to see until now.
An original AT&T AUDIENCE® Network documentary, it also includes powerful commentary from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, former ESPN President John Skipper, former NBA center Jason Collins, former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, NFL draftee Michael Sam, trans triathlete Chris Mosier, journalist LZ Granderson and a number of younger LGBTQ athletes who are still facing prejudice and exclusion based on their sexual orientation.
The creative brainchild of David McFarland (also the documentary’s director and executive producer), it reveals that since Robbie’s retirement from MLS there are currently no openly LGBTQ athletes in the five major U.S. professional team sports in spite of the progress that has been made in sports since Collins shared his powerful 2013 coming out announcement in Sports Illustrated.
Interviewed by McFarland not long before his retirement from pro sports, Robbie says that to him, this whole experience “just felt right,” that McFarland was making a deeply positive impact for all LGBTQ athletes who continue to want to be included, accepted in the game they love and treated like everyone else. I couldn’t agree more – there could be no more powerful argument than this documentary that Pride is more relevant than ever!
“Alone In The Game” will premiere on Thursday, June 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on AUDIENCE on DirecTV NOW and DirecTV Ch. 239. You can also watch via streaming services on DIRECTV NOW, DIRECTV, and AT&T U-verse Apps. To watch the documentary trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aolQEcFp_QA&feature=youtu.be
The Importance of Recognizing Gender Fluidity
By Ty Nolan
Do you remember when ten percent was tossed around when discussing gay issues? Well if you do, you’re probably older than today’s average Millennial. That designation originated with Alfred Kinsey’s seminal work in human sexuality. But it was never an accurate figure; it tried to average out gay, lesbian, and bisexual experiences in the subjects Kinsey interviewed more than half a century ago. He didn’t even have a category for transgender reality.
Less known, however, was that Kinsey found it was so common for men to report having same-sex relations as adolescents that he didn’t bother to count them until they had more than three encounters to the point of orgasm after the age of 16. Even then he ended up reporting only 37 percent of men had sex with same-gender partners in their lifetime.
In the 21st century researchers have gotten better with surveying youth. They’re finding evolving concepts of gender that move beyond binary measurements of male or female. Just so, a recent survey found 48 percent of Generation Z (those between the ages of 13-20) self-reported as being “exclusively heterosexual.” This compares to 65 percent of Millennials (those between the ages of 21-34). The American study is very similar to the United Kingdom’s research showing 49 percent of those between the ages of 18-24 stating they’re “not 100 percent heterosexual.”
Western society has a long history of being uncomfortable with the idea of bisexuality, hence the continuing need for Pride. But with the concept of gender fluidity, sexual orientation can become delightfully complex and confusing. For example, if you’re sexually engaged with someone who doesn’t identify as male or female, is a “homosexual” act even possible? It’s a brave new (and exciting) world, friends!
In honor of PRIDE MONTH, a new documentary called “Alone in the Game” is coming out, telling the stories of many prominent LGBTQ+ athletes in sport. Watch the trailer here!
Professional Sports Teams Celebrating Pride
Here are some professional sports teams celebrating Pride Nights in June. Hopefully you’ll get to enjoy some of them in person.
WNBA Pride Events by Dates:
Los Angeles Sparks – June 6
Indiana Fever – June 9
Washington Mystics – June 9
Connecticut Sun – June 10
Dallas Wings – June 16
Phoenix Mercury – June 16
Minnesota Lynx – June 17
Atlanta Dream – June 23
New York Liberty – June 23
Seattle Storm – June 23
San Antonio Stars – June 30
Chicago Sky – July 8
MLB Pride Events by Dates:
San Diego Padres, April 27
Colorado Rockies, June 1
Washington Nationals, June 5
Boston Red Sox, June 7
Cincinnati Reds, June 8
Los Angeles Dodgers, June 8
Oakland Athletics, June 8
Pittsburgh Pirates, July 8
Tampa Bay Rays, June 8
Toronto Blue Jays, June 8
Chicago Cubs, June 10 & Aug. 26
Seattle Mariners, June 16
Milwaukee Brewers, June 21
San Francisco Giants, June 21
Atlanta Braves, June 22
Baltimore Orioles, June 27
Philadelphia Phillies, June 28
Arizona Diamondbacks, June 29
Minnesota Twins, July 9
New York Mets, Aug. 4
St. Louis Cardinals, Aug. 17
Chicago White Sox, TBA
Kansas City Royals Pride Night is a grassroots event; Date July 22.