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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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Trailblazing Scots pro soccer athlete comes Out and inspires others

Murray, 30, came out during an interview posted on the website of his club, saying “the weight of the world is now off my shoulders”

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Screenshot/YouTube

EDINBURGH – Two weeks after making headlines as the first-ever senior Scottish pro soccer player to come out as gay, Zander Murray is revealing the impact his courageous decision has had on at least one closeted player. Murray tweeted a message he received that shows the difference an athlete coming out can make. 

“I just wanted to tell you that you’ve been a massive inspiration for me to come out to teammates and family,” the anonymous player told Murray, according to the tweet. 

“As a young footballer I find it difficult to be myself as it is but being gay and keeping it secret was so challenging. It felt amazing when I told my teammates, they were super supportive.” 

Murray shared the message with a heart emoji and the words: “Makes it all worthwhile young man.”

Murray, 30, came out during an interview posted on the website of his club, the Gala Fairydean Rovers, on September 16, explaining “the weight of the world is now off my shoulders.”

Screenshot/YouTube

As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Jake Daniels of Blackpool came out as gay in May, the first U.K. male pro soccer player to come out in more than 30 years. Justin Fashanu was the first in Britain men’s soccer to come out back in 1990. Homophobic and racist media reports drove Fashanu to suicide eight years later. 

Reaction to Murray’s coming out last month has been “incredible,” he’s told reporters. One of those reaching out to congratulate him was Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley. The U.K. diver sent him a DM, Murray told a British interviewer. 

“He messaged me while I was on my way back from football training in a car with four boys. I had tears in my eyes seeing his direct message, and I messaged him back.

“I said, ‘Look I am in a car on the way back from football with four boys and I’ve got tears in my eyes and I don’t even care.’”

Prior to coming out, Murray had been “living in fear 24/7,” he told Sky Sports. “I can’t explain it. You’re hiding your phone in case you get messages from friends, constantly double-checking if you have a team night out, you’re cautious with what you’re saying.

“It’s very hard, especially for myself, I’m a character in that dressing room. I’m not quiet in that dressing room, I like to have the banter and to get stuck in, so very challenging.”

But Murray said he couldn’t have decided to come out “at a better time, at a better club.” So why now? He posted the answer on Instagram with several bullet points, including:

  • “Gay male footballers in the UK need role models. 
  • Majority are terrified to come out to friends/family/teammates (trust me a few have reached out already!).”

STV Weekend News Sunday, September 18, 2022 Zander Murray

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Gay men stand up to Qatar & denounce its death penalty

In advance of World Cup: “I’m a man and I love men,” a representative of soccer fans told Qatar’s ambassador

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Dr. Nasser Mohamed/Instagram

FRANKFURT, Germany – Gay men are blowing the whistle now, two months before the World Cup, demanding the host nation of Qatar change its anti-LGBTQ ways.

The Middle Eastern country where Islam is the state religion will welcome soccer players, coaches and fans from all around the planet, beginning Nov. 20, for matches that will pit nation against nation.

Qatar has promised to welcome LGBTQ foreigners, even as its own people are tortured and put to death for being who they are. 

On Monday, Qatar’s ambassador to Germany got an earful from one of those men at a human rights conference in Frankfurt, hosted by the German Football Association, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Fan representative Dario Minden spoke in English directly to Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, about who he is and who he loves, Minden told him to “abolish the death penalty” for homosexuality. 

“I’m a man and I love men. I do — please don’t be shocked — have sex with other men. This is normal,” Minden told Al Thani. “So, please get used to it, or stay out of football. Because the most important rule in football is, football is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re lesbian, if you’re gay. It’s for everyone. For the boys. For the girls. And for everyone in between. 

“So, abolish the death penalty. Abolish all of the penalties regarding sexual and gender identity,” he said. 

Although organizers promised Al Thani an opportunity to respond, the Associated Press reports that portion of the conference was closed to the public and the news media and was not televised. 

Earlier, Al Thani reportedly complained to those assembled that the issue of human rights was a distraction from the World Cup, even though the event was titled, “Sport and Human Rights.” 

“We all care about human rights,” said Al Thani. “But I would have enjoyed (it) more if I saw some concentration not only on just one subject, but the enjoyment of football and the football effect on people around the world.” 

More than five-thousand miles away in San Francisco, a gay Qatari physician has organized a petition to tell the land of his birth: Love Is Not A Crime. 

Dr. Nasser Mohamed decided to come out in 2010 following a visit to the U.S., and spent his residency in Connecticut before moving to California in 2015. 

Mohamed wrote in an op-ed published by Outsports last month that he has spent the last decade caring for the LGBTQ community in outpatient settings and growing as an activist. 

“Being an LGBT person is a criminal offense in the legal system in Qatarm as is sex between two men. There are state-sponsored conversion-therapy practices, and LGBT-affirming psychotherapy is not offered.” He wrote how law enforcement uses media and chat rooms to find, jail and punish people for being LGBTQ. 

“Visibility of the local LGBT community in Qatar, and the exposure of their treatment, are absolutely essential,” Mohamed wrote. “I am doing my part by speaking up.”

Editor’s note: Find out about Mohamed’s petition by clicking here. He is also raising money through a GoFundMe account to provide him with funding for his activism as well as security and protection.

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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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