Varsity Gay League is more than a kick in the grass
Sports are all about friends, family and empowerment
Every year when he walks out onto the field of Dodger Stadium to play kickball, Will Hackner tears up. Taking the mound to pitch a game of kickball on the home field to one of the most famous and successful teams in Major League Baseball, is a dreamlike honor and culmination of an unlikely journey for the gay man, once a bullied and un-athletic small kid who loved video games.
Hackner, who has been called the godfather of gay kickball, founded the national LGBT sports organization Varsity Gay League, which provides sports and recreation for the LGBT community, after becoming disillusioned by his job in Hollywood and the West Hollywood bar scene.
Now in its tenth year and serving ten cities across the U.S., VGL has serviced over 8,000 players across many sports and all experience levels while pioneering a kickball movement within the LGBT community. With kickball as its anchor sport, the league offers bowling, soccer, tennis, beach volleyball, flag football and dodgeball, among others.
The idea for the league started after Hackner and few friends walked into a West Hollywood bar just as they realized how little any of them wanted to be there. Will was exhausted by the monotonous notion of another night whose success depended on matching with the ever-elusive hot guy essential for a happy ending.
On a whim, the group went to West Hollywood Park to hang out and then began a spontaneous game of tag. They chased each other around the park on the warm summer night while becoming soaked by the sprinklers. Their infectious jubilation recruited strangers passing by to join in on the playful merriment. Will was experiencing a child-like fun that seemed absent from his life.
“The experience reminded me that regardless of our age and the values our community perpetuates – like having to be one of the cool guys at the party with the great bodies to matter – you can be yourself and have fun,” Hackner said.
From that moment, Hackner was emboldened to create a way for people to connect and have fun. Varsity Gay League was an organic evolution of that idea, a way for Hackner to play games and get out of the house; it was not meant to be a business. Starting with capture the flag, other sports like kickball and paintball, and activities like an Easter Egg hunt, soon followed. Through sports, friendships began to form and those friendships created community.
In 2012, Hackner, who had been working as a creative producer for companies like DC Entertainment and Spinmaster, experienced two layoffs in as many years. Hackner decided to take ownership of his life and no longer work at the wavering mercy of others who may or may not share his creative vision. VGL became his business, which in a twist of fate fulfilled his original purpose for working in Hollywood – to entertain and connect with others.
“VGL gives people the opportunity to connect with others and be seen succeeding in an environment that doesn’t adhere to superficial social rules and hierarchy that plague the gay community,” Hackner said. “I get to be a part of a changing paradigm and it gives me purpose.”
Hackner sees this cultural shift slowly envelop each city VGL serves. The league isn’t homogenized and segregated like much of the gay community. People begin to form friendships with someone unexpected. With sports as a uniting activity, no longer are people only connected by having a similar appearance or social status. Hackner believes VGL helps to destroy the superficial social barriers and misrepresentations that for so long segregated the community.
VGL was a gateway into a community that league member Clayton Grey didn’t know existed, much less that he had the athletic skills to be welcomed in.
“Having an outlet to explore my athleticism that I was too nervous or scared to do as a child and teenager, has given me confidence and security in myself as an athlete and as a person,” Grey said. “VGL means I’ll always have a league or a team to belong to, and I’ll always have a community to hang out with.”
“To see that communal switch happen in every VGL city is remarkable,” Hackner said. “When I walk into a bar now, I am not looking for the hot guy to sleep with; I am not looking for a guy to make laugh or try to get drunk and get rejected by. I am looking for my friend; I am looking for someone to play in my league.”
The league community is about more than athletic ability, it about finding a family-like group that allows each person to have the security to grow and try something new. When kickball lover Michael Shutt had three strokes that left him mostly blind and paralyzed on his left side, he spent nine months recovering, which left him feeling isolated. Wanting to be involved in the community as he continued to recover, he signed up to be a captain of a draft league kickball team. Generally, VGL kickball teams are self-formed and players without a team are assigned a team by league managers with the exception of draft league, which occurs once yearly. Draft league teams are formed by captains who draft players based on skill level observed during a day of scrimmages.
Shutt, who is experienced at kickball but has partial vision, chose a co-captain who has perfect vision but was inexperienced at kickball. The pair drafted a team based on Shutt’s observation of the player’s energy and movement, with his co-captain identifying the player impressing Shutt. Amazingly, their team won the season championship. For Shutt, the season was about so much more than winning.
“I needed to get back out there and get involved to feel normal again,” Shutt said. “I am very lucky, the team supported me as much as I supported them, and that’s the amazing thing about VGL. It’s such a huge community that gives you an instant and invaluable support network.”
Varsity Gay League became the first organization to be allowed to play kickball at Dodger Stadium through its annual sponsorship of the Dodgers’ LGBT night three years ago. VGL continues to expand its corporate and charitable partnerships, celebrating its first year of partnership with the San Francisco Giants this year.
Trans women banned from track & field, intersex athletes restricted
World Athletics’s new edict will take effect on Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31 crushing Olympic hopes for NCAA champion CeCé Telfer
MONACO – The organization that makes the rules for track and field meets around the world declared Thursday it will bar transgender women who have experienced male puberty from competing, a move that was anticipated following a similar trans ban issued last year by the governing body for world swimming.
As the Associated Press noted, at this moment there are zero trans women competing at the elite level of track and field. But the edict, which World Athletics announced will take effect on the Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, is crushing news for one hopeful.
In May 2019, CeCé Telfer won the 400m hurdles at the Division II championships and became the first out trans woman to win an NCAA title. She’s been training ever since for her shot at the Olympics, despite being ruled ineligible for Beijing at the trials in 2021. The Jamaican-American had set a goal of qualifying for Paris in 2024. But the World Athletics ban ends that dream.
Telfer tweeted Thursday, “It feels as though the world stopped moving.”
It feels as though the world stopped moving…— CeCe Telfer (@CeceTelfer) March 23, 2023
Another ruling by the group will likely mean no shot at the Olympics for another Black woman athlete, two-time gold medalist Caster Semenya. The South African track icon is not transgender, but because of her higher than typical testosterone levels, she has been barred from competing in her signature event, the 800m. World Athletics took that from her around the same time Telfer made history, in May 2019.
The group issued an eligibility ruling that prohibits female athletes like Semenya who have Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) from competing in women’s events, from the 400m to one mile (1600m), unless they reduce their testosterone levels. So, Semenya chose to run in longer events than she did previously. She finished 13th in her qualifying heat at 5,000 meters at world championships last year as she worked to adapt to longer distances, in preparation for Paris.
“I’m in the adaptation phase, and my body is starting to fit with it. I’m just enjoying myself at the moment, and things will fall into place at the right time,” the South African runner told the AP.
That time may now never come. On Thursday, World Athletics announced athletes who have DSD will have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment and maintain a testosterone level of below 2.5nmol/L for 24 months, in order to be eligible to compete in any event in the female category.
Semenya vowed following the 2019 ruling that she would never again take any testosterone suppressing medication, terming the rules discriminatory and unfair.
This new rule could impact not only Semenya but also as many as a dozen other elite runners, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. Among them, Olympic 200-meter silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia, who won a silver medal in Tokyo two years ago but didn’t compete last year because of an injury. Mboma has not publicly stated whether she would be willing to undergo hormone therapy.
Like Semenya, Olympic 800-meter silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi has said she will not undergo hormone suppression.
Even though Niyonsaba, Mboma and Semenya are not transgender like Telfer and former Connecticut high school track athletes Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller — who have been targeted in federal court by opponents of inclusion — there is one thing all these women have in common: They are all women of color, and all targeted for being too fast because of their natural gifts.
Chicago Blackhawks: No Pride jerseys over Russian concerns
Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, & there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country
CHICAGO – The National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks franchise have opted to not wear the team’s Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against the Vancouver Canucks based on security concerns over the recently expanded Russian law prohibiting mention of LGBTQ+ rights in Russia the Associated Press, (AP) reported.
According to the AP, the decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.
Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country the AP noted.
The team has participated in the LGBTQ themed part of the ‘Hockey is for everyone‘ campaign and has in previous years set aside recognition for the LGBTQ+ community in Pride night celebrations.
The Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver because of security concerns. https://t.co/33idpM8BDD— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) March 23, 2023
While the team will forgo the jerseys, the AP noted that DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.
The decision by the team has sparked outage including Outsports editor Cyd Zeigler, who noted on Twitter that the NHL has an inclusion problem as the Chicago team joins the New York Rangers, who opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their Pride night this past January despite previously advertising that plan. The Rangers’ Pride Night was held 10 days after Ivan Provorov, the alternate captain for the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, opted out of participating in the team’s Pride Night charity event before the game Tuesday, claiming a religious exemption based on his Russian Orthodox faith.
San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer didn’t take part in the Sharks Pride Night wearing Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community, telling multiple media outlets that support of the LGBTQ+ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.
Wow! that's insane. The #Blackhawks had no problem supporting Ukraine – with whom Russia is AT WAR -for a game.— Cyd Zeigler (@CydZeigler) March 23, 2023
But rainbows on Pride Night? "Oh what will Russia think??!?! We better not!"
The @NHL has a very serious LGBT-inclusion problem on its hands.https://t.co/qVAig47zeM https://t.co/QTjZulo8wa
Los Angeles Rams are hosting preliminary Cheerleader Auditions
The Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders are known for their commitment to community service and performances during Rams home games at SoFi Stadium
AGOURA HILLS – The Los Angeles Rams are hosting preliminary Cheerleader Auditions for the 2023 season starting on Sunday, April 2. During the preliminaries, candidates will participate in an “Across the Floor” round that will consist of a combination of movements and exercises before candidates are selected to advance to the Semi-finals.
As part of the Semi-final round, candidates will learn a choreographed routine and perform in front of a panel of judges.
Candidates interested in auditioning must be 18 or older by Sunday, April 2 and must register online at therams.com/auditions by Friday, March 31 at 3:00 p.m. PT.
The finalists will be announced on the Rams website the following day on Monday, April 3 at 4:00 p.m. PT at therams.com/cheerleaders. Final auditions will take place on Sunday, April 16 at the team’s practice facility at Cal Lutheran University.
The Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders are known for their commitment to community service and performances during Rams home games at SoFi Stadium. The Rams Cheerleaders pride themselves on representing the best of Los Angeles and the Rams organization. Since 2016, the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders have provided more than 1,700 hours of community service in the Southern California region.
In addition, the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders travel internationally to represent the Rams and engage with fans in the team’s international marketing areas including Mexico and Australia, as well as military bases in other countries for NFL Pro Tours. For more information, please visit www.therams.com/cheerleaders.
MMA fighter Jeff Molina comes out as bi after being outed
“TLDR: im bi. Not the way I wanted to do this but the chance to do it when I was ready was taken from me” – Jeff Molina
OLATHE, Ks. – UFC bantamweight Jeff Molina, who goes by “El Jefe” in the octagon, came out as bisexual Friday in a tweet that revealed he had been outed by someone who shared a video of him being intimate with another man.
“Welp.. this fucking sucks,” he wrote. “TLDR: im bi. Not the way I wanted to do this but the chance to do it when I was ready was taken from me.”
In the moving and very personal post, Molina explained that “I’ve dated girls my whole life and suppressed feelings I had throughout high school being on the wrestling team, throughout college pursuing MMA, and even after making part of the dream happen and getting into the UFC.” Molina has been a part of UFC since 2020.
👇👇👇 pic.twitter.com/zho13QHXeT— Jeff Molina (@jmolina_125) March 17, 2023
Last Pride Month, Molina showed his support for the LGBTQ+ community by wearing rainbow shorts during a fight, and was the only one to do so. He found himself on the receiving end of anti-gay backlash for that.
“I just thought in 2022 people would be a little more open-minded and not pieces of shit. But I guess I was wrong,” Molina said at a post-match news conference last June.
Jeff Molina goes *off* about the negative comments he received for wearing UFC's pride month shorts.— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) June 5, 2022
"I just thought in 2022 people would be a little more open-minded and not pieces of sh*t. But I guess I was wrong."#UFCVegas56 | Full video: https://t.co/mOxnqIFGCb pic.twitter.com/aKeVUUeXyg
After coming out on Friday, he added: “At the end of the day I know my character, morals, and who I am as a person. As much as I’m getting hated/shitted on I’m getting an equal amount of support & it means a fuck ton.”
In fact, Molina received immediate support from fellow MMA fighters Chris Curtis and from fans with huge numbers of followers.
The real ones don't care man. Be happy with you and the rest will fall into place. Glad you can finally get it off ya chest. Fuck the haters— Chris Curtis The Action Man (@Actionman513) March 17, 2023
Saddens me that you weren’t able to do this on your own terms, horrible thing for that person to do, but you know who you are and I’m sure this will resonate with someone going through the same thing in the MMA space. Thanks for even sharing.— MS (@UFC_Obsessed) March 17, 2023
In his coming out tweet, Molina explained why he had waited until now, and in doing so, had some harsh words for anti-LGBTQ fans of MMA: “The thought of my buddies, teammates, and ppl I look up to looking at me different let alone treating me different for something I can’t control was something I couldn’t fathom. In a sport like this where a majority of the fans being the homophobic cocksuckers they are I didn’t see myself doing this during this part of my career.”
Molina said he wanted to be known for his skills and his dedication to his sport and not as “the ‘bi UFC fighter’ that I’m sure would just be translated to ‘gay UFC fighter.’”
And he had this to add: “To the awful disturbed person that decided to post this…I hope it was worth it,” Molina wrote.
Currently, Molina’s record is 11-2, but he is under suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission for allegedly betting on a UFC fight, according to CNN.
While he waits for the investigation to conclude, Molina is spending his time watching MMA fights and enjoying Starbucks, which he tweeted and was subsequently ribbed for his choice of beverage.
I could be riding a Harley while eating pussy and still be getting called a fruit 🤷♂️— Jeff Molina (@jmolina_125) March 18, 2023
Put this out gay trailblazer’s supportive coach in your bracket
Nate Oats is coaching the Crimson Tide & on the other side will be Kevin Willard, who is not just a seasoned coach, but a strong LGBTQ+ ally
BIRMINGHAM, Al. – When the 8th seeded Maryland Terrapins tipoff against No. 1 Alabama tonight in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, it’s not just the players on the hardwood who will be working hard for the win.
Nate Oats will be coaching the Crimson Tide less than an hour from their home court as he sideline strategizes. And on the other side will be Kevin Willard, who is not just a seasoned coach, but a strong LGBTQ+ ally.
Willard was Derrick Gordon’s coach at Seton Hall when he transferred from UMass in 2015, a year after he came out as the first out gay Division I Men’s basketball in the NCAA.
Gordon has credited Willard for creating a comfortable environment, after he “bumped heads” with former UMass coach Derek Kellogg during his two seasons with the Minutemen. In contrast, he said he instantly connected with Willard, and told his teammates and Willard following his final season at Seton Hall that he wished he had another year of eligibility remaining. He’s said he considered Willard the best coach he’d ever played for.
“He just made it comfortable for me,” Gordon told Glenn Clark Radio in an interview broadcast on March 22, 2022. “He said, ‘You know what, we’re more focused on who you are as a person and a basketball player and what you bring to the team.’ He voiced that over and over again. When I went on my visit, I just felt even more comfortable, met a couple of the guys. They made me feel right at home as well, so it was kind of like an easy decision. Coach Willard’s awesome. He’s an amazing guy.”
If you don’t believe Gordon, ask the West Virginia Mountaineers, who lost to the Terrapins in the first round last week 67-65. Maryland’s win “took the paint off the floor at Legacy Arena” in Birmingham, Ala., as Brendan Quinn wrote in The Athletic. He described Willard’s style of coaching this way:
“Willard paced the sideline, as he does. The man is intense. Doesn’t suffer fools. Serious stuff. No BS. Black eyes screwed deep in a bald head, no pupils. He regards things sideways, incredulous toward anyone who doesn’t come correct. It’s his whole thing. If Guy Ritchie cast a college basketball coach, it’d be Willard.”
Gordon told Glenn Clark Radio that he particularly recalled the kind of support Willard gave him in one practice early in his Seton Hall career, according to Press Box Online.
“I remember a particular situation that happened in practice — came down the court and I was wide open and I didn’t shoot it,” Gordon said in the 2022 interview. “[Willard] stopped practice and he said, ‘You’re not at [UMass] anymore. I trust you. I believe in you. Shoot the ball.’ Ever since then, my confidence was through the roof, especially dealing with I had to deal with when I was at UMass with that coach to playing under Coach Willard and him telling me that specifically, he just let me play my game.”
Last July, Gordon posted on Instagram that after playing a few seasons in Europe for Cyprus and Germany, “I decided to end my career as a professional athlete.”
Gordon is now 31, and he told his followers he is working on a book about his life “on and off the court,” in hopes he might “help gay young people, student athletes in particular and others who are struggling to pursue careers in professional sports or any career paths they chose without fear or shame.”
Since Christmas, he’s been sharing posts that include photos with his boyfriend, actor Scott Backman of Los Angeles, including one from last week, captioned: “Every time we’re together, it’s like falling in love all over again.”
Vermont Christian school banned from state sports for anti-trans
The Mid-Vermont Christian School basketball team forfeited a tournament game rather than compete with a transgender student-athlete
QUECHEE, Vt. – A Christian school that chose to forfeit a girls’ basketball tournament game rather than play against a team with a transgender player has been banned from Vermont school sporting events, VTDigger reports.
The Vermont Principals’ Association, which oversees school athletics in the state, said Mid-Vermont Christian School in Quechee, Vt. will no longer be eligible to participate in any sports or any other sponsored activities.
Members of the Vermont Principals’ Association executive committee decided at a meeting Monday “that policies have been violated at the school level and thus there is an immediate determination of ineligibility for Mid-Vermont Christian in VPA sanctioned activities and tournaments going forward,” according to a statement posted online.
Specifically, the private religious school violated the organization’s anti-discrimination and gender identity policies, the organization told the school in its letter of ineligibility. Those policies allow athletes to play on teams that are “consistent with their gender identity” and prohibit discrimination “based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender.”
As the Los Angeles Blade reported, Mid Vermont Christian School head of school Vicky Fogg issued a statement last month, defending their decision to forfeit. “We believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players,” said. “Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general.”
MVCS’s decision made headlines around the world, with opponents of transgender inclusion hailing the school for standing up for cisgender girls and women, and LGBTQ+ rights advocates and allies labeling the school transphobic and bigoted.
Administrators at the school did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
Vermont Christian school refuses to play against “a biological male”
Vermont girls team forfeits playoff to avoid competing against trans student despite law allowing trans females to play on girls’ sports teams
DORSET, Vt. – The Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont, won its first playoff game this week but not because of how the girls on the 5th seeded high school basketball team played, because they didn’t get to play. Their opponent, the 12th seeded Mid Vermont Christian School, forfeited the game because it refuses to have its girls compete against a team with a transgender girl on its roster.
“We believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players,” MVCS head of school Vicky Fogg wrote in an emailed statement, published by the Bennington Banner. “Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general.”
“Biological male” is a weaponized term of oppression coined during the North Carolina bathroom bill era, according to Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ & HIV Project.
Strangio and Gabriel Arkles, former senior counsel at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund co-wrote a post on aclu.org debunking four myths about trans athletes using the expertise of doctors, academics, and sports experts, including Dr. Joshua D. Safer and coach and sports policy expert Helen Carroll.
MVCS did not respond to an email from the Los Angeles Blade, requesting comment by press time, and it’s not clear whether the decision to forfeit was made by the administration, the players, their coaches or the families of players, or all of the above.
Long Trail also has not responded to our request for comment, but Lauren Thomas, the assistant executive director for the Vermont Principals’ Association, told the Vermont Digger MVCS informed her it would not compete in the state’s Division IV tournament but did not elaborate on its decision.
“This is the first time where a school has expressed that they were withdrawing over those concerns,” said Thomas. “We have transgender athletes in various sports, not just basketball, not just in team sports. We have individuals. So, we have students that are participating as they are.”
Vermont law allows transgender female students to play on girls’ sports teams. Among the goals of the VPA’s Activities Standards Committee is to provide “proactive talk tracks for transgender athletes.”
“We already had the policy in place,” Thomas said. “The policy is not new, it’s not reactionary. It’s been out there for a while. People are aware of it.”
According to Thomas, other schools have sought advice before but until now never refused to allow its students to compete because of this issue.
“I have received calls (from schools) asking for best practices and how to go forward knowing they were going to play a team with a transgender female on it,” Thomas said. “We just supported our stance and our best practices through our inclusivity statement.”
In January, Mid Vermont Christian School submitted a letter to Vermont’s Agency of Education acknowledging the school still wants to receive public tuition funding while also declaring it reserved the right not to follow all of Vermont’s anti-discrimination laws.
“As a religious organization, the school has a statutory and constitutional right to make decisions based on its religious beliefs, including hiring and disciplining employees, associating with others, and in its admissions, conduct and operations policies and procedures,” Fogg wrote in the Jan. 4th letter. “By signing this form, the Mid Vermont Christian School does not waive any such rights.”
Fogg also wrote in its January statement that regarding state laws that conflict with the school’s beliefs, “including on marriage and sexuality, the school has not included that language in its handbook or online, nor can it affirm that particular aspect of the Vermont Public Accommodations Act.”
Trans woman powerlifter wins landmark lawsuit
USA Powerlifting has previously argued that they ban transgender women from participating due to “fairness”
ST. PAUL, Mn. – In a huge victory for transgender athletes, a judge in Minnesota ruled a national sports body illegally discriminated against a trans woman and ordered USA Powerlifting to immediately stop barring trans athletes from competing according to their gender identity.
Ramsey County District Judge Patrick Diamond also ordered USAPL to revise its discriminatory policies within two weeks, to allow trans women to compete with cisgender women athletes.
JayCee Cooper has been fighting for her right to compete since 2018, when she was barred from competing like any other woman powerlifter, because she’s trans. Then in 2019, USAPL instituted a new policy banning all trans women from participating in its women’s powerlifting competitions.
“I jumped through every hoop, cleared every hurdle to be able to compete with USA Powerlifting, but was met with a retroactive ban on trans athletes,” said Cooper in a statement.
Cooper filed a discrimination complaint in June 2019, and in 2021 sued USAPL and Powerlifting Minnesota, claiming they violated Minnesota’s Human Rights Act. That law, passed in 1993, was based on an earlier Minneapolis statute and made Minnesota the first state in the country to ban discrimination against transgender people. On Monday, Judge Diamond issued summary judgment.
“Trans athletes across the country deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else,” said Cooper. “We deserve equitable opportunities to compete in the sports we love. I am thrilled that this ruling recognizes our rights and our humanity and hopefully opens doors for transgender athletes everywhere to participate fully in sports.”
“Trans women belong in women’s sports here in Minnesota,” said Jess Braverman, legal director of Minnesota-based Gender Justice. “As someone who participates in women’s sports myself, I could not be happier about this outcome. I am so proud of JayCee. Other sports organizations should take notice because this ruling is not at all limited to powerlifting. Hopefully this will encourage more organizations to do the right thing and welcome trans athletes to compete as their authentic selves.”
The Los Angeles Blade reached out to USAPL for a comment but did not receive a response as of press time.
As NPR reported, USA Powerlifting has previously argued that they ban transgender women from participating due to “fairness.” The policy as described on the organization’s website says: “USA Powerlifting is not a fit for every athlete and for every medical condition or situation.”
The organization had argued transgender women have developmental advantages, “including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue.”
But as PinkNews reported in January, a new study commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport found trans women do not have any advantages over any other women, when competing in elite sport.
Brittney Griner’s return to WNBA action will be in Los Angeles
The free agent who spent 10 months in a Russian prison signed a one year contract with the Phoenix Mercury
PHOENIX — For the first time since 2021, Brittney Griner will be back on the hardwood for the Phoenix Mercury when the WNBA season kicks off in May. But it won’t be at home. Her first game is on the road, facing the Los Angeles Sparks.
Griner, who regained her freedom in December 2022 in a prisoner swap between Russia and the United States, signed a one year contract on Saturday worth $165,100, according to ESPN.
The 32-year-old missed the entire 2022 season following her arrest in Moscow one year ago. Russian authorities said she broke their law by packing vape canisters with cabbabis oil in her luggage. In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony for drug smuggling, and that sentence was upheld upon appeal in October.
“Following a sham trial and the unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner, Moscow is transferring her from a prison in Moscow to a remote penal colony,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken back in November. “It is another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention.”
After months of negotiations and protests led by her wife, Cherelle, and advocacy groups including the National LGBTQ Task Force, the WNBA star was exchanged in the United Arab Emirates for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. He had served 10 years of a 25-year-sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist group. Russia balked at the Biden administration’s request to secure the release of businessman and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is still serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for spying.
As ESPN reported, Griner will be playing her 10th season since first being drafted by the Mercury in 2013. Her last year on the court was one of the best of her career, in which she averaged 20.5 points, 1.9 blocks, 2.7 assists, and career-highs with 9.5 rebounds per game, 2.4 offensive rebounds and a .846 free throw percentage.
The Mercury open their 2023 season against the Sparks at the Crypto.com Arena on May 19. The team’s first home game is May 21 when Phoenix hosts the Chicago Sky.
GLAAD re-teams with NFL for ‘A Night of Pride’
Out bi NFL player RK Russell joins music and Hollywood stars in Phoenix Wednesday night, Feb. 8, at the Sheraton Downtown
NEW YORK – Even if you’re not into “sportsball” or don’t have plans to watch the Super Bowl next Sunday, there’s a super queer party in the works in Phoenix that will put some glitter on the gridiron.
GLAAD is once again teaming-up with the National Football league for a star-studded event that will spotlight LGBTQ+ inclusion in professional sports. It also highlights the NFL’s commitment to LGBTQ+ NFL players, coaches and league personnel and out LGBTQ+ NFL Legends, like R.K. Russell.
The former defensive end and free agent came out as bisexual in 2019, and was part of last year’s A Night of Pride with GLAAD and the NFL, ahead of Super Bowl LVI. He’ll be joined by another out football player, Byron Perkins, the Hampton University defensive back and Chicago native who last year became the first player at any of the nation’s 101 HBCUs to come out as gay.
This year’s spectacular takes place Wednesday night, Feb. 8, at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix, and features a performance by recording artist and LGBTQ+ ally Betty Who.
Also on hand: Tempest DuJour and Joey Jay of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Lance Bass, G Flip, Mynx DiMilo, Justine Lindsay, Meredith Marks of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City and Braunwyn Windham-Burke of The Real Housewives of Orange County, Big Brother Winner Taylor Hale, Shaun T, Justin Sutherland of Top Chef, Paige Mobley, Asher Grodman, Liz Jenkins and content creators Ashley & Malori.
The invite list also includes State Rep. Daniel Hernandez (D-Ariz.), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Tim Ellis, the league’s EVP & CMO as well as GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, among others.
In addition to the celebrities, famous names, music and cocktails, GLAAD is promoting the event’s panel discussions on the power of visibility and representation as well as the power and the promise of the next generation of NFL active players. The evening will also feature a panel discussion moderated by Yahoo!’s senior reporter Daniel Artavia about how professional sports can drive LGBTQ+ acceptance forward and help combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, including amateur and student athletes.
The red carpet rolls out at 6 p.m. MST, followed by panels and performances at 7 p.m.
The league has made big strides toward greater acceptance since Michael Sam made headlines when he came out as gay before the NFL Draft nine years ago this month, in Feb. 2014.
More than a dozen retired NFL players have come out as LGBTQ+, including Ryan O’Callahan, who took part in last year’s GLAAD/NFL event. But it wasn’t until June 2021 that an active NFL player, Carl Nassib, came out as gay, and found almost universal acceptance and support. Nassib was with the Raiders at that time and had a one-year contract to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His future in the NFL is unknown.
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