Sunday Scroll: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ history month

You can’t win without gays. It’s science ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Sunday Scroll

From The Gist Team

Good morning!

Welcome to The GIST’s Sunday Scroll, where we dive deep into one timely sports topic.

And welcome to our 900th newsletter! October is LGBTQIA+ History Month, so today we’re digging into the origins of this commemorative month, the athletes who’ve broken cis-heteronormative barriers, and the work still to do.

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Quote of the Day

Quote

You’ll probably see me with the Pride tape on that night anyway.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton

— Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton on his decision to continue using Pride Tape on his hockey stick. After banning Pride warmup jerseys in the offseason, the NHL recently announced that they are also banning the tape.

  • Thankfully, Laughton wants hockey to actually be for everyone. Over his 10-year career, the Flyers forward has been a vocal ally of the LGBTQIA+ community and is a co-founder of the Flyers’ Pride Initiative. We stan.

The Scroll

📚 The history

Source: Bob Conrad/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

LGBTQIA+ History Month was created in 1994 by Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson. Wilson, along with community leaders, sought to teach students about the queer trailblazers so often ignored by textbooks.

  • In 1995, the National Education Association officially voted to include LGBTQIA+ History on its list of commemorative months, and the rest, as they say, is history.

💪 The trailblazers

Source: Paul J. Bereswill/Newsday via Getty Images

One of the first pro athletes to come out was former NFL running back David Kopay. In 1975, three years after retiring from the league, Kopay acknowledged his sexuality in an interview and, two years later, published a book detailing his journey to self-acceptance.

On the tennis court, activist and icon Billie Jean King was horrifically outed when a former lover sued her for palimony in 1981, and legend Martina Navratilova was also outed a few months later by the New York Daily News before she was ready to come out.

  • But a lesser-known trailblazer fought the U.S. Tennis Association in court. After being barred from the 1976 US Open for refusing to take a sex-verifying blood test, trans athlete Renée Richards sued, and, in 1977, the NY Supreme Court ruled that the test was discriminatory and in violation of Richards’ human rights. Serving equality.

Putting the “out” in outfielder is the first openly gay MLB player, Glenn Burke. The former LA Dodger and Oakland A (and inventor of the high five!) came out publicly in 1982, three years after his last MLB appearance.

In more recent history, 2013 saw the first active out athlete in major men’s North American sports when Robbie Rogers took to the MLS pitch for the LA Galaxy.

  • And in men’s hoops, center Jason Collins also came out in 2013 and became the first active openly gay NBA player when he joined the Brooklyn Nets in 2014. That year, he wore number 98 in honor of the late Matthew Shepard, a student who was brutally murdered for his sexuality in 1998.
Together with The GIST & MegEmikoArt

🏳️‍⚧️ Protect Trans Athletes

Source: The GIST

The GIST: In honor of Pride, The GIST teamed up with MegEmikoArt, a trans activist and artist, to create a “Protect Trans Athletes” line, with 50% of profits being donated to the The GenderCool Project.

The why: Under the guise of “protecting women’s sports,” anti-trans policies and proposals aiming to ban trans youth from sports are developing at all levels of the U.S. government. Relegating trans and intersex youth to the sidelines keeps them from experiencing the many benefits playing sports has to offer to children and teens.

The response: A whole roster of athletes have spoken out against bans on trans athletes, including USWNT stars Becky Sauerbrunn and Megan Rapinoe, as well as WNBA icon and Rapinoe’s fiancé Sue Bird, and former USA softball star Jessica Mendoza.

How you can help: Learn more here and proudly rock a “Protect Trans Athletes” tee or tote.

🌈 Loud and proud

Source: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Thanks to those aforementioned trailblazers, some of today’s athletes feel safe to be their true selves on and off the field. WNBA star Layshia Clarendon wrote a memorable 2015 The Players’ Tribune article identifying as non-cisgender, making them the WNBA’s first openly nonbinary athlete.

  • Then, in 2021, Clarendon bravely underwent top surgery and finally felt a “sense of gender euphoria as opposed to gender dysphoria.” Authenticity FTW.

Sadly, there are far fewer openly LGBTQIA+ athletes in men’s leagues than in women’s, but two players — in football and fútbol — recently continued blazing trails.

  • Former Las Vegas Raider Carl Nassib (who’s now retired) became the first openly gay active NFLer in 2021, making the announcement in a video on Instagram.

On the pitch, Blackpool’s Jake Daniels made history in 2022, becoming the U.K.’s first active openly gay player since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

  • “I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do,” he said in the announcement. “And if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant.”
  • Also brilliant? The day after he came out to his family, Daniels scored a whopping four goals in a scrimmage. A weight off his shoulders.

And a few months later, Hampton University defensive back Byron Perkins came out as gay, becoming the first-ever out HBCU football player in the process. Perkins said he hopes his move to live authentically combats stigma and increases support for young Black gay men.

🥊 The fight continues

Source: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Though sports and society have made significant strides toward equality, there’s still a long way to go.

In 2015, a massive international study surveyed nearly 9.5K individuals, both queer and straight, and found that 80% had seen or experienced homophobia in sports, and the same proportion believe queer people are “not at all” to just “moderately” accepted in sporting culture.

  • Even more concerning, 73% believe team sports are not safe for queer youths and 78% question the safety of LGBTQIA+ individuals as mere spectators at sporting events.

And besides still combatting homophobia, there’s also a massive fight around transgender athletes and their access to sports. While a few states are going so far as to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youths, when it comes to sports, 23 states ban trans student-athletes from competing in sports consistent with their gender identity.

As politicians use the idea of “protecting women’s sports” as a pawn in their transphobic arguments, it’s athletes and trans kids who suffer as they’re ostracized from competitive sports spaces.

  • Former UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas drew significant ire for competing according to her identity after transitioning “to be happy, to be true to myself” beginning in 2019.

It’s clear that the next chapter in LGBTQIA+ sports history will require all of us to fight, particularly in protecting trans kids.

  • To echo USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, “show [us] the evidence that trans women are taking everyone’s scholarships, are dominating in every sport, are winning every title. I’m sorry, it’s just not happening. So we need to start from inclusion, period…we can’t start at the opposite. That is cruel.”

The GIST's Picks

Here’s what passed The GIST squad’s vibe check this week:

👂 Who to listen to

Official Angel City FC soccer mom Glennon Doyle. Besides bringing orange slices and explaining “the soccer,” Doyle (who’s married to USWNT legend Abby Wambach) explains that loving someone means also loving their identity. Couldn’t agree more.

❤️ What to support

Nonprofits like The Trevor Project and Athlete Ally and outlets like Outsports, who are doing the work 365 days a year.

👀 Who else to know

The off-field LGBTQIA+ barrier-breakers: Katie Sowers, the first female and the first openly gay coach ever in a Super Bowl, Chris Burns, the first out NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach, and award-winning queer sports journalist Katie Barnes.

Fun and Games

Today's Crossword

The crossword is back after a two-week hiatus! Congratulations Larisa B, Dawson O, and Aimee B for receiving the highest scores in our history of the Solheim Cup crossword. Nice job!

Celebrate LGBTQIA+ awareness month with us and play again today. We will update the leaderboard next week. Good luck!

Play

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