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Gawker: Fox News demoted Shep Smith because he’s gay

Fox News allegedly removed Smith from the prime-time line-up over fears he would come out as gay last year.


Equality is a team sport

Megan Rapinoe, gay news, Washington Blade

Megan Rapinoe finds inspiration in the small actions taken by individuals and communities that help shape a more inclusive environment across America and beyond.

The past 18 months have truly been groundbreaking in the LGBT sports landscape. The likes of Jason Collins, Michael Sam, Derick Gordon, as well as Olympians Sally J Shipard, Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, Caitlin Cahow and Belle Brockhoff have all come out so loudly and so proudly! And understandably the gut reaction is to fixate on that culminating moment, the proverbial, “I am gay.” Looking back to 2012 and the weeks and months leading up to my coming out, it strikes me as important not to lose sight of the culminating factors that made the decision in that moment even possible.

As an athlete, only about 1 percent of what you do is actually seen: the critical pass, the lifting of the trophy or the ball in the back of the net. What is not seen by the public by and large is the incredible journey that goes along with that incredible moment. I will spare you the cheesy details, but the 90 minutes I am out on the pitch is just the icing on a seven-layer cake. And anyone who has ever been lucky enough to play in a championship match knows that it is about much more than just the game, it is actually about everything that has led you to that moment.

Similarly, while coming out remains an individual act of courage, and although LGBT athletes should be recognized and commended for their leadership, I think that it is important to acknowledge and celebrate what makes coming out moments possible. The LGBT sports movement is about more than LGBT athletes — it’s also about what makes it possible for LGBT athletes to come out and be accepted as part of their teams and sports. It is incredibly inspiring to witness historic moments playing out across the major sports leagues, but I continue to be moved by the small and not-so-small actions taken by individuals and communities, shaping a more inclusive environment across America and beyond.

I came out to contribute to the broader cultural shift that reflects growing support for LGBT equality. We need athletes at all levels to continue to come out — to courageously stand in who they are and show that athletic careers survive and thrive when we live openly and authentically. Both through the U.S. national team and the Seattle Reign I have the opportunity to interact with thousands of fans. People older than I am, younger than I am, men, and women have told me, “You’re the reason I came out,” or, “Seeing you live who you are has given me the strength to be true to myself.” These interactions and conversations have given me tremendous perspective regarding how hard it can be to come out and come to terms with your sexual orientation and or gender identity — and how important it is to have support around you, and in the broader culture.

Back in 2012, I was graciously given the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s Board of Directors Award, for becoming one of the few out Olympians at the 2012 London Games. It was overwhelming and humbling to be surrounded by people who do so much to support the LGBT community, especially the youth, day in and day out. In the domain of LGBT activism and advocacy, while perhaps I have been able to serve as a catalyst for courage, ultimately, change happens when family, friends, and society create inclusive and supportive environments where all people, gay, straight, bisexual and transgender stand together for equality.

As a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team that won gold at the 2012 Olympics, we spoke of our success as a victory made possible not only by the players on and off the pitch, but also our coaches, trainers, U.S. Olympic Committee staff, family members, friends and fans.

Change takes courageous LGBT people, but it also takes a lot of courageous people who are not gay, straight or otherwise. The fact of the matter is that everybody in my life is not gay, and yet everybody in my life has played a role in creating a supportive and inclusive environment for me to simply be who I am.

When athletes come out, we need to be sure that we take the opportunity to recognize, appreciate and sustain the critical, cumulative contributions that lead up to those critical moments. My family, Lori Lindsey, and Dan Levy are just a few of the incredible allies who have journeyed with me and continue to inspire and support my advocacy. I’m an Athlete Ally Ambassador because when it comes to ending LGBT discrimination in and beyond sport, the responsibility for creating inclusive environments does not rest solely with members of the LGBT community. Equality is a team sport.

Megan Rapinoe is guest editor of the Washington Blade. She won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics as part of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and plays for the U.S. National Team as well as the Seattle Reign.


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‘Being true to yourself is a beautiful thing’

Megan Rapinoe, gay news, Washington Blade

Megan Rapinoe says women athletes have ‘led the way’ for being out in sports. (Photo by Erica McCaulley; used with permission)

Coming out is something Megan Rapinoe hasn’t regretted for a minute.

The professional soccer player and Olympic gold medalist announced to the world that she’s gay shortly before the 2012 London Olympic Games. She’d been out to her family and team members for years, but decided to come out publicly after a yearlong thought process because concealing a central part of her identity seemed “weird” and “not authentic.”

“It started to feel like something was being omitted purposefully from my life and my public image,” says Rapinoe, a midfielder for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, who prides herself on being open with her personal life. Before coming out, she hated dodging questions about what it was like to have a large LGBT fan base by providing impersonal answers like “Well, yeah, we need diversity in the sport.”

“For me to not be able to say ‘I’m gay, and that’s why it means a lot to me to have my community supporting our team,’ that didn’t feel right to me,” Rapinoe, the 29-year-old guest editor of this sports edition, says.

It is important for professional athletes to come out as gay, Rapinoe says, not only for themselves, but because it helps LGBT fans realize they have someone to identify with on the field or the court. She lauds Michael Sam’s high-profile coming out earlier this year, a move that she calls “courageous.”

“I’m sure there are plenty of gay men and women out there who love football but maybe didn’t always feel welcome,” she says. “Now they can go support one of their own. I think that’s really special.”

But Rapinoe admits that for men, sports are still “hetero-dominated,” and being honest about sexual orientation is difficult. That toxic climate won’t change, she says, until homophobia in sports is finally considered unacceptable.

“The fact that we’re even still having this conversation about, ‘Is Michael Sam gonna be good for the locker room?’ is absurd to me. In 2014 there are incredibly larger problems people should really worry about,” she says. “If nobody ever comes out, then I don’t think that any of these issues we’re fighting for ever get solved or become better.”

Rapinoe has enjoyed considerable time in the limelight as a top player for the Women’s National Team at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and the 2012 Olympics. There’s more work to do, she says, before women’s sports earn the same level of visibility as men’s.

She’s been particularly vocal about FIFA’s decision to permit Canada to use mostly turf fields for the upcoming 2015 Women’s World Cup, quoted in SB Nation as calling the decision “a slap in the face to women’s football.”

Going forward, she hopes to see more funding and exposure for women’s sports. But she’s proud of steps that have already been made by ESPN, for example, which “stuck their neck out” on broadcasting women’s soccer despite skepticism about whether it would be popular. (It was, Rapinoe points out.)

“Men’s sports is ingrained in the culture of the country,” she says. “They are multi-billion dollar industries and it’s already in the media. But women’s teams still need that initial funding and willingness to hedge your bets that it’s going to be something that’s popular.”

In recent years, Rapinoe has emerged not only as a star player but also as an activist through groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and its “Change the Game” campaign, geared toward preventing anti-LGBT bullying in sports and physical education programs.

Growing up, Rapinoe never had role models of her own because fewer women in sports were openly gay. For her, being someone others look up to is an honor, not a burden.

“I don’t feel like just because I’m a soccer player and I’m out I have to be a role model. It’s something that really means a lot to me,” she says, recalling countless times where she’s connected with fans expressing their gratitude for being out and proud.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” she says. “It just reaffirms over and over how right I was to come out and say, ‘This is who I am and I’m totally fucking proud of it.’”

And despite potential blowback, she makes her advice clear for closeted LGBT athletes contemplating coming out: “Do it.”

“It’s one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. You rarely find when a person comes out that they regret it,” she says. “Being true to yourself is a really beautiful thing.”


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Cartoon: Ellen Page comes out

Ellen Page, Human Rights Campaign, Juno, coming out, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

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Importance of openly gay elected officials

Jim Graham, Washington, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade, gay elected

Gay D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Like so many others, I have gone through many stages as a gay man. Knowing who I am, and being comfortable with all that, has taken time. I have gone from denying my sexuality and marrying a woman (who I loved then and still do to this day), to divorce. What followed were awkward personal times working in the U.S. Senate where there was then zero tolerance for being gay.

But when I became the volunteer President of Whitman-Walker Clinic on April 1, 1981, I came out of the closet with a roar — for a time everyone (whether they liked it or not) had to be told by me that I was gay. Those were my “Billboard Years.” More change followed after 16 years as head of the Clinic. I became more “right sized.” Being gay was a key part but only one part of my make-up. When I ran for D.C. Council in 1998, I ran on that basis and got elected, and re-elected ever since.

With all that in mind, I was struck by a recent suggestion by a Blade columnist that it wouldn’t matter if the D.C. Council went from its current two gay members to none at all.

It’s amazing that a gay columnist for a gay newspaper would suggest that not having gay elected leaders is of no significance! Harvey Milk must be turning over in his grave.

I have never campaigned just as a “gay man.” Had I done so, I would never have won. When I was first elected in 1998, Ward One was 71 percent minority population — 46 percent black and 25 percent Latino. I ran against an incumbent, African-American male, well known for his leadership in D.C. and in the national Civil Rights Movement.  In 1998, one out of every four Ward 1 residents were living in poverty. My record at Whitman-Walker demonstrated a commitment to all people as well as poor people –especially those living with HIV and AIDS, from the earliest days of the pandemic.

Why do people vote a particular way? The reasons are limitless, and surely sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, are all part of it. “Identity politics” is hardly dead. It matters — sometimes positive, sometimes negative — that a candidate is gay. It can make a big difference.

My sexual orientation informs what I do and say. But being gay is only part of who I am. I work every day to integrate all aspects of my life.

Yet to suggest as the columnist did “that LGBT residents are fully integrated into the fabric of local life” — and that “sexual orientation of elected officials is inconsequential” is just plain wrong. LGBT candidates bring a unique experience to government.

For example, I was just honored by the DC Center for my work on a recently passed bill establishing an LGBTQ homeless services program with 10 beds for these kids only.

Would that have passed without the energetic support of a gay Council member? Maybe, maybe not. But the DC Center surely thought it made a positive difference.

And why else does the Victory Fund endorse openly gay and lesbian candidates?  It’s not because — as the columnist suggested — “that the gay community is fully integrated into our different communities.” It’s because that having one of our own at the table counts.

But that is just the start. I, along with hundreds of other out LGBT elected officials, cannot win without earning the trust of our communities to stand with them and fight for everyone.