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How a gravity-defying straight man practices allyship and tricks

All in all, James Crutcher can sum up his way of thinking in one sentence: “Just be a nice human being”

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Photo courtesy of James Crutcher

SALT LAKE CITY – You have to see it to believe it. James Crutcher, 21, leaps high into the air, seemingly defying the laws of physics as he flips and spins more times than the human brain can fully comprehend in a video shared to his over 19,000 followers on Instagram.

Crutcher practices ‘Tricking,’ a training discipline that combines the kicks, flips and twists of both martial arts and gymnastics, and since he was young, it was his dream to be the best. “Not in the world,” he told the Blade. “But if I walked into a gym, the competitive side of me wanted to be the best one in that gym.”

Unlike most people the Blade profiles, Crutcher isn’t gay. He’s not bisexual or Trans. In fact, he is not part of the LGBTQ+ community at all. “I’m straight,” he said. 

Photo courtesy of James Crutcher

But that’s not to say he doesn’t contribute to the LGBTQ+ community in a meaningful way. 

LGBTQ+ allies have long played an essential role in the queer rights movement and the overall well-being of people in the community. According to Jean-Marie Navetta, director of Learning and Inclusion at national LGBTQ+ nonprofit PFLAG, allies hold “tremendous” power. 

“We can set the direction; we can show up; we can tell our stories; we can say what needs to happen. But we unfortunately can’t do it alone,” she said. 

Navetta added there are countless examples of communities working alongside their allies to move legislation social change along – from military service to marriage equality to Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. “It takes more than us,” she said. 

“The whole idea is that if we can bring people from our community together with our allies, we can educate people, we can change perceptions, we can reach people who may not be listening when we speak sometimes,” Navetta said, adding: “When allies are speaking, it tells the biggest, scariest truth of all, which is inclusion is for all of us.”

According to Navetta, the biggest part of being a strong ally is knowing that “ally is a verb, not a title you get to give yourself. It’s something that you do every day.” In the eyes of Navetta and PFLAG, a good ally must: ​​Commit to learning more, face the barriers that keep you from being active and acknowledge that allyship means action.

“It is more than just putting a sticker on your car; it’s more than showing up at Pride in June,” she said. “It is about that year round commitment to those conversations and it doesn’t have to be activist work.”

Crutcher considers himself to be one of these people. “It’s not just about being tolerant,” he said. “But it’s mainly being supportive and making people feel comfortable.” 

Born in Boise, Idaho, Crutcher said he “definitely” heard “negative and hateful” comments toward queer people growing up. “I always thought ‘why do you actually carry this much hate?'” he said. “We’re all just people just living life? Why not just be nice? I never understood it.”

LGBTQ+ rights in Boise, the capital and largest city in Idaho, have largely improved over the last decade. In 2012, as Crutcher was growing up, the city received a 26 out of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organization, in its Municipal Equality Index (MEI). Last year, the city received a 77 from the organization – a significant improvement but far from perfect. 

However, Crutcher, who now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, said he went to a high school that was, by and large, supportive with “a lot” of LGBTQ+ people. “I think that’s where a lot of me supporting people came from,” he said, adding that many of his closest friends were in the community.

Still, there were moments when Crutcher would have to step in and stick up for one of his friends. None, in particular, stuck out to him, but he did say his general philosophy was “just don’t be a dick.”

Crutcher’s move to Salt Lake City was a fairly recent one, spontaneously submitting an application about two and a half years ago for his current job at Woodward Park City, a state-of-the-art action sports hub, according to its website. Crutcher and his roommate decided, “Hey, we’re going to put in an application, thinking if we get the job, we get the job. If not, it is no big deal,” he said.

“We got the job,” he added. “And then we’re like,’ Oh, we got a week to move to Utah.’ And then did it.”

Crutcher coaches kids at Woodward Park City who want to learn the complex, challenging craft he taught himself years ago. 

He first remembers developing the itch to trick watching the Olympics with his grandparents growing up, especially gymnastics. 

Photo courtesy of James Crutcher

“It always fascinated me how people were able to just flip it, especially when it was like double flips,” Crutcher said. “It just blew my mind.”

He made learning gravity-defying tricks his mission from then on, starting by back-flipping down hills in elementary school. “That’s kind of where the addiction started,” he said. 

“I never had a coach growing up,” Crutcher said. “It was just watching YouTube videos and trying to copy it. I got frustrated all the time with that because stuff wouldn’t click for me. I wouldn’t understand what I was doing. So it always fascinated me how coaches are able to help students learn.” 

But much like tricking itself, Crutcher turned what fascinated him into something he excels at – and he couldn’t be happier. 

“I love watching kids learn a new skill and just the joy on their face when they learn it because I remember when I was learning these new skills and how happy I was,” he said. “Seeing that I was able to provide that for them just makes it worth it.”

“James is incredibly passionate and driven with his tumbling, tricking and coaching,” said Morgan McNeil, 32, the progression assistant manager at Woodward Park City. “You can feel the energy he brings to the floor when he’s working on his own skills, as well as when he sees the opportunity to coach others to achieve their goals.”

Crutcher did say that he occasionally has to keep his competitive side at bay when he is coaching. “I’m jealous of them,” he said. “At their age, I wasn’t able to do a quarter of the things that they can do.”

Given its strong Mormon influence, some may be surprised to hear that Salt Lake City has one of the highest LGBTQ+ populations in the country. According to a 2015 Gallup study, 4.7% of people who reside in the city self-identify as LGBTQ+, which is more than the 4.6% of people who identified as queer in Los Angeles. 

People “don’t realize what a gay-affirming and gay-friendly city Salt Lake has become,” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune at the time. 

In addition, the city scored a perfect 100 on the HRC’s 2021 MEI. 

Surrounding Utah is more of a mixed bag. The state earned a “fair” score, 15.25 out of 42.5, from the LGBTQ+ research nonprofit the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). 

Still, Crutcher and his friends, some of whom are queer, haven’t run into any problems in the city. 

“I know Utah is Mormon-ville,” Crutcher said. “I mean, I’m not Mormon, so it’s kind of nice sometimes. On Sundays, nobody’s out doing anything, so you have the whole place to yourself.”

Crutcher is not an activist. He isn’t well versed in LGBTQ+ issues or the politics of being queer. He can’t fully comprehend what it feels like to come out and live openly. But he does know how to listen, learn and stand up for people. 

Photo courtesy of James Crutcher

All in all, he can sum up his way of thinking in one sentence: “Just be a nice human being.”

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Tom Brady’s new out gay teammate: Carl Nassib returns to Tampa

Carl Nassib returns to Florida as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly sign the NFL free agent to a one-year deal

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Carl Nassib speaks publicly for first time since coming out as gay in August 2021 (Screenshot/YouTube KUVV Fox 5 Las Vegas)

TAMPA – Carl Nassib, who made headlines in June 2021 when he became the NFL’s first out gay active player, reportedly has signed a one-year contract with his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

The 29-year-old defensive end was released by the Las Vegas Raiders in March, and became a free agent. NFL sources said that was due to his contracted salary amount—$7.75 million—and not any reflection on his sexual orientation.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news with a tweet

When Nassib came out last summer, he announced he was donating $100K to The Trevor Project, and for Pride Month this year he made a new pledge to help LGBTQ youth. He promised to match donations to The Trevor Project, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.

Will Bucs quarterback Tom Brady welcome Nassib? As Outsports reported, he’s never made any comments about playing with someone gay. Brady’s former Patriots teammate Ryan O’Callaghan recalled that before he came out in 2017, following his retirement, there was one time that he missed the team bus and Brady gave him a ride in his car to that day’s practice.

O’Callaghan told Outsports he believes Brady would have “absolutely” accepted him if he had come out at that time.

“Being married to a super model I’m sure he’s met a few gay people in his life,” said O’Callaghan. Brady wed Brazilian fashion model Gisele Bündchen in 2009.

Legendary Boston sports columnist Steve Buckley of The Athletic came out as gay in 2011 while at the Boston Herald. He told Outsports Brady has always been friendly and cooperative, even after Buckley came out.

This is the second time around at Raymond James Stadium for Nassib. He played for the Bucs for two seasons prior to joining the Raiders in 2020. His NFL career began in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns. 

As Jason Owens reported for Yahoo! Sports, Nassib was far more productive in Tampa as a part-time starter, recording 6.5 sacks in 2018 and six sacks in 2019. The NFL’s website shows he played just 242 defensive snaps and earned 1.5 sacks last season. 

In 86 games including 37 starts, Nassib’s recorded 22 career sacks, 164 tackles, 53 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles.

In addition to Brady, Nassib’s new teammates are Akiem Hicks and William Gholston at defensive end and outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Given that the Bucs finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last season with 47, Nassib will be expected to improve Tampa Bay’s chances when their season begins Sept. 11 in Dallas.

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The voice of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, legendary Vin Scully has died

“The game is the thing, not me,” he told The LA Times in 1998. “I am just a conduit for the game. I am the guy between the expert & the fan. I am not the expert”

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Courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – The iconic phrase “It’s time for Dodgers baseball” voiced by Vin Scully, ringing out at the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers for over 60 years was termed  “the heartbeat of the Dodgers,” by the team as it sadly announced the legendary broadcaster’s passing at age 94 Tuesday.

“We have lost an icon,” said Dodger President & CEO Stan Kasten. “The Dodgers’ Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever. I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time. Vin will be truly missed.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his condolences Tuesday evening after the news broke of Scully’s death. In a statement the Governor said:

“Vin Scully was a master of his craft. A native son of New York, his unmistakable voice will forever be synonymous with Los Angeles.

When the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn in 1958, Vin came with them. For more than six decades, he provided the soundtrack for generations of baseball fans. He was a master storyteller whose calls had an unparalleled musical quality that was a source of comfort for millions.

Over his remarkable career, Vin consistently demonstrated the remarkable ability to improvise poetry, a true artist whose love for the game rang through every Dodgers broadcast. He was quite simply the greatest of all time, and will be sorely missed not just by his family and friends but by millions of baseball fans.”

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers

LA’s hometown station KTLA 5 reported that Vincent Edward Scully was born on Nov. 29, 1927, in Bronx, New York. He began his legendary career at Fordham University, where he worked on the school paper and for the college radio station.

He latched onto the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s and followed the team to the West Coast where he would become synonymous with Dodgers baseball for the next 67 season.

Scully retired from calling Dodgers games after the 2016 season, eight years after announcing his original plans to step away from the game he loved.

He was a MLB Hall of Fame inductee in the 1980s, becoming one of only a handful of announcers to receive the honor. In 2016 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Earlier this year, he was awarded the Baseball Digest lifetime achievement award.

California U.S. Senator Alex Padilla remembered the Dodger broadcaster in a statement:

“Angela and I join Los Angeles—and baseball fans around the world—in mourning the passing of Vin Scully. From Opening Day to the World Series and every inning in between, for generations of fans, Vin Scully’s voice meant it was time for Dodger baseball. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1980s, I spent many evenings dreaming of playing baseball in the major leagues while Vin’s voice narrated the action.

“Vin’s unparalleled storytelling and love of sports allowed him to transcend baseball. Many fans recall Vin’s unique calls on some of the most memorable football games and golf tournaments of the 20th Century.

“While he became a legend for his talents behind the microphone, he will be remembered best for his decency beyond the broadcast booth. A few years ago, as California’s Secretary of State, I had the opportunity to introduce Angela and our boys to Vin at a voter registration event before the game. He was incredibly gracious to my family, as he was to all fans. He always made time for fans—regardless of age or occupation—whenever and wherever he met them. Vin Scully was truly an ambassador for the Dodgers, Los Angeles, and the entire sport of baseball. Our hearts go out to the entire Scully family.”

In a Facebook post, Out Dodgers executive Erik Braverman expressed his sadness at the passage of the team’s legendary broadcaster:

From KTLA:

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The LA Sparks donate shoes to homeless youth honoring Brittney Griner

The shoe drive was originally an initiative by Griner to help those in need in the Phoenix metropolitan area

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Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes (Photo Credit: WNBA/LA Sparks)

HOLLYWOOD – Led by Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes, the WNBA championship team’s executive staff donated dozens of pairs of shoes to Covenant House California for children experiencing homelessness this past Monday.

The shoes were donated, in part, to honor WNBA Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner who currently remains detained in Russia.

The shoes were collected throughout the WNBA season in collaboration with Griner’s team, the Phoenix Mercury, and her annual Heart and Sole Shoe Drive. As the Mercury visited all 12 cities with WNBA teams, people were encouraged to bring new or lightly used shoes to be donated to local causes. The nonprofit HavASole also contributed to the shoe drive.

The shoe drive was originally an initiative by Griner to help those in need in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes (Photo Credit: WNBA/LA Sparks)

As Griner remains detained in Russia, the drive was expanded throughout the league in her honor. The local shoe drive was held in Los Angeles on July 4 when the Sparks and Mercury faced off in the Crypto.com arena, KTLA reported.

Covenant House California (CHC) is a non-profit youth shelter that provides sanctuary and support for youth experiencing homelessness, ages 18-24. In their mission statement the organization notes: “We believe that no young person deserves to be homeless; that every young person in California deserves shelter, food, clothing, education … and most importantly, to be loved.”

CHC provides a full continuum of services to meet the physical, emotional, educational, vocational, and spiritual well-being of young people, in order to provide them with the best chance for success in independence.

(Photo Credit: WNBA/LA Sparks)

Officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February detained Griner — a Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist after customs inspectors allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage. The State Department has determined that Russia “wrongfully detained” her.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor, but there was no intent,” Griner told a Moscow judge during the second hearing in her trial, according to the New York Times. “I didn’t want to break the law.”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner earlier this month and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood delivered a letter from the president to the WNBA star in answer to a letter Griner had written to Biden pleading for his assistance in gaining her freedom.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken after Brittney Griner’s guilty plea reiterated the Biden administration remains committed to securing her release.

“We will not relent until Brittney, Paul Whelan, and all other wrongfully detained Americans are reunited with their loved ones,” tweeted Blinken.

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