NFL’s Brendon Ayanbadejo edits Washington Blade’s sport issue
by Joe Siegel
A recent all-sports issue of the Washington Blade had a special guest editor, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.
The issue featured news and commentary from leading sports figures, including lesbian tennis player Martina Navratilova, gay footballer Wade Davis and University of Maryland wrestler and Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor, among others.
Blade Editor Kevin Naff came up with the concept of an issue dedicated to sports with a focus on LGBT athletes.
“I’m a big sports fan and professional sports remain a largely closeted area of American life,” Naff said. “The message was simple: To tell LGBT stories, which is the common denominator in all the stories we do. LGBT voices have been largely invisible in professional sports for too long. It’s time to crack open one of the last closets in public life. We need to tell those stories and encourage more athletes, coaches and fans to come out.”
The Blade team approached Ayanbadejo after the Ravens won the Super Bowl earlier this year.
“He’s been the most visible straight ally in professional sports since 2009, so he was an easy and obvious choice,” Naff said.
For Ayanbadejo, the fight against LGBT discrimination is very similar to the struggles faced by people of color in the United States.
“President Lincoln died for what he believed in — that every man is created equal just as stated in the Constitution,” Ayanbadejo wrote in the special issue. “But 150 years later in 2013, we continue to fight for the same things we fought for in the Civil War — the civil rights and equal rights of every single American man, woman and child. We will continue to spread our message of love, freedom and equality not only in the United States but worldwide.”
Ayanbadejo believes he has a responsibility as a public figure to promote the cause of LGBT equality: “As an athlete I realize that I have the ability to traverse the territory between sport and entertainment. I would much rather improve people’s lives than entertain, so I chose to start voicing my views on issues that resonated with me and my personal life. The Super Bowl was witnessed by more than a billion eyes and ears. The timing couldn’t have been better, even though I have been publicly campaigning for equality since 2009. What was a grassroots movement is now one of the most relevant topics in America and around the world.”
Response to the issue has been favorable, according to Naff. “The sports issue was covered by USA Today, BET, the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and many other outlets. Some were surprised that a straight Super Bowl champ would edit a gay newspaper; others were surprised that the Blade was devoting so much ink to non-political news. But all the feedback was positive.”
Naff added that the Blade hopes to make the sports issue an annual event with a different guest editor each year.
Equality Forum offers LGBT media ways of covering LGBT History Month
by Joe Siegel
Thirty-one prominent LGBT icons – one for every day of the month – are being profiled in honor of LGBT History Month in October.
Philadelphia-based Equality Forum, an international LGBT civil rights organization with an educational focus, has devoted a website for the purpose of honoring activists, entertainers and other prominent LGBT people.
The website http://www.lgbthistorymonth.comincludes free video and print content for all 31 icons. The site also includes ideas for LGBT media. They include embedding the LGBT History Month videos on your website, tying in stories about the LGBT icons with “local icons” in your readership area, downloading high-resolution photos of all the icons, and exploring local angles of all the 31 icons by using the site’s “icon search” function. There are also detailed biographies and bibliographies of each icon. Visitors to the site can also access the list of LGBT icons dating back to 2006.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is highlight the remarkable resources available through icon search,” Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin explained. “There are over 150 tags or categories. This is year eight [of the project], so there are 248 icons are now in the database.”
In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.
Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association and other national organizations. In 2006, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month.
The nominations were reviewed by LGBT History Month 2013 Co-Chairs George Chauncey, Yale University’s Samuel Knight Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department; Jennifer Brier, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Don Romesburg, Assistant Professor, Sonoma State University. Professors Brier and Romesburg are co-chairs of the Committee on LGBT History at the American Historical Association.
This year’s icons include CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas, historian Martin Duberman, playwright Edward Albee, film historian Vito Russo, Holocaust survivor Gad Beck, transgender hero Gwen Araujo, South African activist Zackie Achmat, and actors Nathan Lane and George Takei.
IN THE NEWS