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On Monday, April 16, I was proud to be involved in a panel discussion at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law on the subject of “Homophobia in sports and developments in policies at the institutional level.”
The two panelists were phenomenal: Professor Erin Buzuvis, from the Western New England University School of Law (and co-founder of the Title IX Blog), and Brian Kitts, a co-founder of You Can Play.
The event was well attended by law students, faculty, and alumni.
For those that were unable to attend, the event was recorded and the video is now available online. I parsed the video into segments based on the topic of discussion for your convenience.
You can view the entire event (just over an hour) with one simple click by viewing this YouTube playlist or you can watch individual segments based on the subject you’re interested in by viewing the embedded videos below.
Yesterday and today at 12:01 a.m. showcased two significant points for the history of the LGBT community: (1) yesterday, Chaz Bono competed as a proud and open transgender man on the ABC hit show, “Dancing with the Stars” [video posted below] and (2) at 12:01 a.m. this morning, the repeal of the discriminatory law “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became effective, allowing full and open service for gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the armed forces.
If following numerous LGBT news outlets and bloggers on Twitter is any indication, the outpouring of support from the LGBT community of Chaz Bono has been incredible. The number of #TeamChaz and #ProBono—I especially like that one—hashtags that have popped up, as well those passing along the information to vote for Chaz, has been overwhelming.
That the entire LGBT community is behind Chaz is especially significant with openly gay contestant Carson Kressley—most known for his role in the show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”—also in the competition. Understandably, and I agree entirely, the LGBT community recognizes that the success of Chaz in the competition—and the increased visibility for the transgender community and the discussions in the media that will follow—is more important than the success of an openly gay contestant.
Watch Chaz’s performance here:
Just a few hours after Chaz’s performance aired, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell became effective. In recognizing and celebrating the repeal, the Army’s repeal letter, filled will supporting and affirming language, was passed around the internet. The story of a Navy officer marrying his partner of 11 years just after midnight became well-known, and the video of a service member coming out live was shared on YouTube. The Advocate announced that it is “Time to Celebrate!” and listed events planned around the country.
With repeal of DADT, universities backed away from varying stances in opposition of military presence. Harvard and Yale both decided to reinstate their ROTC programs. Vermont Law School decided to allow military recruiters on campus.
Allowing the military to have full access to the campuses as a reward for repealing DADT sends the message that full and open service for the LGB community is alone satisfactory. Unfortunately, this leaves the transgender community behind and forced to remain in the closet (presenting as the gender matching their biological sex at birth rather than their true gender identity).
This bothers me. It splinters the community. While the LGB are happily celebrating, there is no less incentive or motivation (or even leverage) to seek the same equality and open service for the transgender community.
Several countries (Spain, New Zealand, and some others) already allow open service and support the transgender community. As far as I know, despite the typical fears announced by those opposed to the LGBT community, integration of the transgender communities in these militaries has been without incident.
All I ask, is that in this time of celebrating the repeal of DADT, we do not forget the discrimination that continues against the transgender community. We much continue to fight for their right to serve openly and proudly for this country.
A Facebook group was set up to recognize the continued discrimination, in light of repeal, calling today “a bittersweet day.” I encourage you to “attend” the event and honor their request to recognize the continued discrimination with a moment of silence as you celebrate the great news of DADT repeal.
Go Chaz! And let’s keep fighting for the equality of all under the broad LGBT (and all other letters) community.
I know I’ve been lax with the posting lately, and unfortunately, I don’t have much time to comment here. But this is a big step that is worth making an actual post about rather than merely posting it on Facebook or Twitter (which, by the way, you should be following on both for more regular and quick updates!)
Anyway, several MLB teams have created It Gets Better videos. The video, shown below, is included on the MLB.com YouTube channel as from the Mariners. But most notably, it includes a message from all of the professional Seattle teams.
The Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle Sounders (MLS), and the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) joined the Mariners with players represented in the video.
The Seahawks and their wide receiver Mike Williams become the first from the NFL to join the campaign. Big news! (Follow him on Twitter @BigMikeWill17 and say thank you!)
The message also specifically mentions the LGBT community, which is appreciated as a couple of the team videos have merely used generic “anyone who is bullied” language.
Check it out:
The San Francisco Giants released their It Gets Better video today through the MLB on YouTube. (Transcript below the embedded video.)
The video begins:
“Hi, I’m Barry Zito of the world champion San Francisco Giants. We all know how difficult life can be as a teenager.”
The video continues with other team members continuing the script:
“We’ve all been there and have had to deal with the pressure to fit in and be accepted by our peers. It’s particularly challenging for LGB(T) teens who face adversity and intolerance in their daily lives.
“We speak for the entire Giants organization when we say that there is no place in society for hatred and bullying against anyone.
“There is no place for children and teenagers to feel isolated or like they have to end their own lives.
“To all the kids who are struggling—and we know it may seem hopeless right now—but please know, you have an amazing future in front of you and an entire community in your corner.
“We promise you, it gets better.”
The final product, which is amazing, I must add, all began when a simple fan started a petition for the team to make the video. I can’t thank him enough for doing so, for the Giants for recording the message, and for MLB for promoting the video through their own distribution channels.
Several other petitions are going for other professional teams, and I encourage you to sign them all as you see them!
Gareth Thomas has spent the past couple weeks gracing the American soil with his presence, first with a visit to the San Francisco bay area for New Years and then most recently to Los Angeles for business: appearing on The Ellen Show, filming an “It Gets Better” video, doing interviews with Outsports and The Advocate Magazine, and meeting with the production team for the movie currently in development about his life, to be played by Mickey Rourke.
(And no, I’m not a stalker; I just follow his Twitter and keep up with these things.)
Here are his various appearances with my commentary, as usual.
The Ellen Show
Gareth tells about how he became an expert at playing the straight guy and an amazing story of coming out to his parents: they popped champagne 3 weeks after he told them to celebrate the start of the rest of his life.
The most compelling part of the interview, from my perspective, is his view on the power of sports and athletes coming out (around 4:30 in the video). Although he properly recognizes that every athlete has an individual situation so he will not offer a broad proclamation that they should come out, he does say, “The power and the influence that sports people or famous sports people on have on the world in general – children and on adults – is such an amazing thing. If they come out and show such a positive story and such a positive message, it changes the world. It really does. Sport is something that can change the world.”
It Gets Better
This video from Gareth is one of my favorite in the It Gets Better series. He is so honest and open in the video talking about how the stereotype of being gay did not match with growing up in the masculine world of rugby, how he has felt like a fraud, how marrying his wife may have ruined her life too, and his own thoughts growing up wishing he could just die to escape having to tell the truth.
My favorite bits:
Thomas (at 2:18): “So I realized, if I couldn’t do this – if I couldn’t die – then I had to start living. And by start living, I had to start telling the truth.”
Thomas (at 3:18): “I always thought I was born to play rugby. Rugby was in my blood; rugby was who I was. But what I realized, it’s not what you do when you’re here; it’s the legacy you leave behind. So I decided to stand up for the rights for the people who are in the same position that I was in, and to try and show people that it does get better.”
Outsports Interview and Article
The boys at Outsports sat down with Gareth for an interview passing on questions from their readers. While you may not get these questions from more traditional news sources, they did confirm that he is in fact single – a question he says he has been asked millions of times – and got him to lift up his shirt to show a tattoo on his abs and reveal some black underwear that Ellen gave him. You can see that for yourself.
In the interview and also in a follow-up article, he mentions that a few American college football players have contacted him about being in the closet and pursuing sports instead of being open. Thomas also answers many of the questions people have about Mickey Rourke playing the part, as Rourke is 20 some odd years older. Gareth’s response: “I don’t give a fuck about that. He’s the perfect person to play me.”