Compete Network Feature Stories

Yes, Virginia, There ARE Gay Athletes

Featured in our May/June PRIDE Issue!

The modern Pride movement began 50 years ago with a riot – a spontaneous six-day uprising at a New York City bar in 1969 by the most marginalized members of society – gay people of color. Led by Drag Queens, transvestites, prostitutes and homeless youth, they unintentionally laid the groundwork for the sports diversity movement to emerge.

This issue celebrates how the sports diversity movement has grown over the last 50 years. It hasn’t been an easy road for LGBTQ+ athletes to claim their right to just be who they are – ignorance, pride and prejudice don’t easily give up their privileges!

But it stimulated the growth of important sports organizations and advocacy groups. And while we can only cover a small fraction of them here, we will continue to cover their stories – they’re the many threads weaving the path of progress.

We also honor the late Patricia Nell Warren, the powerful lesbian activist, athlete and writer. While the Stonewall Riots provided initial energy for the gay community to be seen and heard, her most famous book, “The Front Runner” was the booster rocket that blew open the door for LGBTQ+ athletes worldwide.

Visibility equals normalcy. As professional athletes have come out, it’s provided the much-needed visibility showing people that the LGBTQ+ athletes they rooted for are just like straight ones. You can see the important domino effect as the number of out pro athletes has increased.

Thanks to all these people and organizations, it has gotten better. It has enabled us to say, “Yes, Virginia, there ARE gay athletes … and they’re just like you and me.”

By Connie Wardman

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