Amateur gay footballer Adam will be one of 10 hunky New York Gay Football League bachelors on the auction block Nov. 8. Proceeds benefit housing for homeless gay and trans youth in New York City. More info here.
Big news on the LGBT rights front that seems to have slipped under the radar. The new collective bargaining agreement for the National Football League has successfully added the language "sexual orientation" to their non-discrimination policy.
Previous iterations of the agreement included protections for race, religion and other attributes but none for sexual orientation.
It seems to be a rather overlooked story this far, props to Pete Olsen at Wide Rights for bringing it to light:
While the public focused on the major financial issues resolved in the new NFL collective bargaining agreement—revenue sharing, the salary cap, and a rookie wage scale—one change was the most newsworthy in my view: adding “sexual orientation” to the list of classifications protected from discrimination.
The language from the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement Article VII, Player Security, reads :Section 1. No Discrimination: There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.
The new language in the 2011 CBA, now moved to Article 49, reads:Section 1. No Discrimination: There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.
Can we thank the heroes of Prop 8 battle? Perhaps, more after the fold.
Author Pete Olsen doesn't have any information on who is responsible for championing this inclusion but does speculate if it could be New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft a longtime LGBT ally.
But the smoking gun is found, in my opinion, in his second guess: Prop 8 challenge champions Ted Olson and David Boies again squared off from opposite sides of the NFL bargaining table. (Boies with the owners and Olson with the players). It seems apparent both attorneys personally would have been in agreement about the inclusion.
Whoever it was, it is welcome news.
It is something of a head-scratcher that America has yet to see the coming out of an LGBT active-roster athlete in the NFL, MLB, NBA or the NHL.
But not so strange when one considers that any given player may not feel fully confident that the league will cover his back if he takes such a major step. It can be fine to secure the support of your immediate team and management, as say, Arizona Suns President and CEO Rick Welts did prior to coming out, but what happens if you get traded to a less friendly team and environment? You could be living in Hell.
Now such a player has assurances to expect his performance on the field will be the standard by which he is judged, regardless who he plays for or where, and redress options if not.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association convention in Philadelphia last month.
One of the more interesting and informative panel discussions I attended was The Out Field: Gay Sports Revolution. It was moderated by ESPN's LZ Granderson, and included panelists Steve Buckley, Jemele Hill, Joanna Lohman, Jeff McMillan, Brian Sims, Hudson Taylor. (As an aside, I saw Jared Max there and he really is dreamy!)
The panelists, all well familiar with the professional sports world, felt confident that, in aggregate, a coming out would ultimately prove to be as anti-climatic as DADT repeal turned out to be. The fans, the game, the teams were ready. The panelists' confidence in the maturity and professionals of the players was absolutely unqualified. They, in fact, felt the stereotype of pro athletes as regressive, aggressive, stupid meatheads was not at all an accurate picture of the men they interviewed daily for their work. They all expressed great respect for the majority of the players.
That discrimination protection has arrived (and without being prompted by a lawsuit) is an excellent confirmation of these journalists' instincts of the temptature of the atmosphere in the pro sports world.
Consider too, we're seeing many pro teams stepping up to film "It Gets Better" videos. One can also look at the recent very lop-sided debate over marriage equality, which ironically culminated with perennial NHL rouge player and LGBT ally Sean Avery emerging looking like a hero. (Select observation to opponents on Twitter: "You might check yourself when Sean Avery stands on the moral high ground.")
The discrimination protection is in place, will a player avail himself of it?
The stage is set. Will a player soon step into the spotlight?
Hopefully, in the near future we'll have an LGBT role model in the pro sports world. We're a big step closer to the day.