Last week, Jason Collins became the first openly gay player in the four major male sports in America. Like literally thousands of others, Green Bay Packers alum LeRoy Butler (inventor of the Lambeau Leap) tweeted his support in four words: "Congrats to Jason Collins."
Those four words got him disinvited from a speaking engagement at an unnamed Wisconsin church. The topic of the planned speech? Bullying. F'real.
Well. I tweeted Mr. Butler that he'd be welcome at my church. Which I knew to be true, because I'm on the vestry (board of directors) and I know my church is loving and welcoming. And then I got to thinking ... why leave it at a tweet? So ... google google google, click click click, email email, and I'm proud to say St Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Madison, WI has picked up the slack for our less welcoming brothers and sisters in the faith, and Mr Butler will deliver his speech to the youth of our community.
We're working on pinning down a date, but right now it's leaning toward June 30.
The biggest challenge is financial. The other church gave Mr. Butler the opportunity to keep the engagement -- and the $8,500 speaking fee -- if he would simply remove the tweet, apologize, and ask God for forgiveness. Mr. Butler said no, and walked away from that revenue in order to do the right thing. No, he probably doesn't need the money, but he's been retired from football for 12 years and this is how he makes his living now, with 6 or 7 of these kinds of speeches a year. So it only makes sense that we want to make things right, entirely, and cover the fee he left on the table, and maybe come up with some extra to donate to his anti-bullying foundation. We are confident we'll be able to secure sponsors to cover much or most of that, but every little bit helps. We've already gotten everything from a hand-written note from Minnesota with a $20 bill tucked in it to an enthusiastic pledge of $500.
One of my favorite parts of this is that we've really irked some conservatives. If you'd like to help us really piss em off, maybe think about throwing a few bucks our way? Just click the donate button at the bottom of the page.