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Bi ex-umpire sues Major League Baseball for sexual harassment

Minor League MLB umpire Brandon Cooper claims female ump Gina Quartararo subjected him to harassment and homophobic slurs

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Minor league Arizona Complex League game 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube)

NEW YORK — A fired former umpire is suing Major League Baseball, claiming he was sexually harassed by a female umpire and discriminated against because of his gender and his sexual orientation. 

Brandon Cooper worked in the minor league Arizona Complex League last year, and according to the lawsuit he filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan, he identifies as bisexual. 

“I wanted my umpiring and ability to speak for itself and not to be labeled as ‘Brandon Cooper the bisexual umpire,’” he told Outsports. “I didn’t want to be labeled as something. It has been a passion of mine to simply make it to the Major Leagues.”

But that didn’t happen. Instead of being promoted, he was fired. His suit names MLB and an affiliated entity, PDL Blue, Inc., and alleges he had endured a hostile work environment and wrongful termination and/or retaliation because of gender and sexual orientation under New York State and New York City law.

“Historically the MLB has had a homogenous roster of umpires working in both the minor and major leagues,” Cooper claims in his suit. “Specifically, to date there has never been a woman who has worked in a (regular) season game played in the majors, and most umpires are still Caucasian men. To try to fix its gender and racial diversity issue, defendants have implemented an illegal diversity quota requiring that women be promoted regardless of merit.”

Cooper claims former umpire Ed Rapuano, now an umpire evaluator, and Darren Spagnardi, an umpire development supervisor, told him in January 2023 that MLB had a hiring quota, requiring that at least two women be among 10 new hires.

According to the suit, Cooper was assigned to Spring Training last year and was notified by the senior manager of umpire administration, Dusty Dellinger, that even though he received a high rating in June from former big league umpire Jim Reynolds, now an umpire supervisor, that women and minority candidates had to be hired first. 

Cooper claims that upon learning Cooper was bi, fellow umpire Gina Quartararo insulted him and fellow umpire Kevin Bruno by using homophobic slurs and crude remarks. At that time, Quartararo and Cooper worked on the same umpiring crew and being evaluated for possible promotion to the big leagues.

This season, Quartararo is working as an umpire in the Florida State League, one of nine women who are working as minor league umpires.

Cooper said he notified Dellinger, but instead of taking action against Quartararo, he said MLB ordered Cooper to undergo sensitivity training. According to his lawsuit, he was also accused of violating the minor league anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

Cooper’s suit says he met with MLB senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Billy Bean — who the Los Angeles Blade reported in December is battling cancer. 

The lawsuit says at that meeting, Bean told the umpire that Quartararo claimed she was the victim, as the only female umpire in the ACL. Cooper said he told Bean Quartararo regularly used homophobic slurs and at one point physically shoved him. He also claims that he has video evidence, texts and emails to prove his claim. 

But he said his complaints to Major League Baseball officials were ignored. His lawsuit said MLB passed him over for the playoffs and fired him in October. He said of the 26 umpires hired with Cooper, he was the only one let go.

Through a spokesperson, MLB declined to comment on pending litigation. Quartararo has also not publicly commented on the lawsuit.

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Nuns denounce Harrison Butker’s speech

The Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and the L.A. Chargers join GLAAD, as others come to defense of Kansas City Chiefs kicker

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Photo courtesy of The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.

ATCHISON, Kan. — As anyone who’s ever attended a Catholic-run school knows, the first rule about nuns is, don’t do anything that will draw their ire. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, whose commencement address this month at Benedictine College has been heavily criticized for misogyny and homophobia, has violated that rule by pissing off the pious sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.

“The Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested,” the nuns wrote in a statement posted on Facebook, adding “We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic.”

“Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division,” the nuns wrote. “One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman. We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years. These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.” 

Photo courtesy of The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.

The vast majority of the comments in response to the post expressed gratitude to the sisters for standing up for women. 

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, the NFL player called on female graduates to aspire to be homemakers, like his wife, in his May 11 commencement address. Butker, who has won three Super Bowl rings, made no mention of his own mother, an accomplished physicist

“I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” said Butker.  “It is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” Butker said.

Ever since that remark, along with his comments against abortion, IVF, “dangerous gender ideologies” and his comparison to Pride month as one of the biblical deadly sins, Butker has been hounded by critics and followers on his social media

“I didn’t graduate with an engineering degree and become a Rocket Scientist to cook some dude’s dinner!” said one. “I am Christian and I have a PhD. Thanks to generations of feminists, I was able to study. I was able to have a family. I was able to do both. I was able to have the choice. You should be ashamed,” said another. 

And there was this comment on Butker’s Instagram post captioned, “For the greater glory of God.” 

“Bro…your boss @nfl just agreed with the majority of women….maybe you should stick to the locker room….I mean, you went after women and pride month in one fell swoop…@chiefs can you get a refund and pick up a practice team player? Asking for millions of successful women who can not have children and have jobs outside the home.”

She’s referring to the NFL statement putting distance between the league and Butker’s remarks: “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” said the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane earlier this month. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder reportedly took time to bash Butker from the stage of the band’s Las Vegas concert Saturday night, noting that two of the band members in the opening act, including its lead singer, are women.

“The singer, Jessica, and the keyboard player, Patti, they must not have believed that ‘diabolical lie’ that women should take pride in taking a back seat to their man,” Vedder said, according to Variety. “There should be pride in homemaking if you’re a man or a woman… it’s one of the hardest jobs and you should definitely take pride in it, but you’re going to benefit by giving up your dreams?” said Vedder. “I couldn’t understand the logic, so I’m questioning it in public right now… It’s not a graduation speech.”

The Chiefs’ NFL rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, also mocked Butker in a Sims-style video on X, showing an animated, bearded Chiefs player with his number 7 toiling in the kitchen. It’s a blink or you’ll miss it moment at 2:55. 

GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis was among those who immediately denounced Butker’s comments, calling them “inaccurate, ill-informed and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

But Butker does have his supporters, including the wife and eldest daughter of Kansas City Chiefs CEO. Clark Hunt himself has not commented publicly.

“I’ve always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams,” Tavia Hunt wrote on Instagram, alongside photographs of herself with her children. “I want them to know that they can do whatever they want (that honors God). But I also want them to know that I believe finding a spouse who loves and honors you as or before himself and raising a family together is one of the greatest blessings this world has to offer.”

25-year-old Gracie Hunt, the oldest daughter of Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt, had this to say on FOX & Friends: “Well, I can only speak from my own experience, which is I’ve had the most incredible mom who had the ability to stay home and be with us as kids growing up,” she said. “And I understand that there are many women out there who can’t make that decision. But for me and my life, I know it was really formative and in shaping me and my siblings into who we are.”

 Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones also voiced support for Butker in a post on social media, declaring: “I love you @buttkicker7! My brotha.” 

Actress Patricia Heaton, a conservative Christian anti-abortion activist who TV viewers may remember from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” also weighed-in in support of Butker, in an Instagram video. 

One thing is for sure, if Butker wants to join his teammates at the White House when President Biden invites the Chiefs to celebrate their Super Bowl championship, he will be welcomed despite his disparaging remarks about President Biden. Butker referred to him as “delusional” in his commencement address. 

“What I can say is all of the team, per usual when there is a championship team, gets invited,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on May 17. “I don’t have anything to add on their attendance or how that looks, but the team is always invited. Everyone on the team is invited.”

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Misogynistic & homophobic remarks by NFL player sparks outrage

Those in attendance laughed in support of Butker when he mocked Pride month as he cited a recent article headlined: “‘A step back in time’

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Harrison Butker (Screenshot/YouTube Benedictine College)

ATICHSON, Kan. — Addressing a friendly audience at a private, Catholic liberal arts college, three-time Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker spoke from his heart about his faith and revealed his personal beliefs as a cisgender man about women and the LGBTQ+ community. 

In his 20-minute commencement address at Benedictine College on Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs kicker said LGBTQ+ Pride month events are an example of biblical “deadly sins,” denounced “dangerous gender ideologies” and the “diabolical lies told to women,” declared a woman’s most important title is “homemaker,” and offered his take on abortion, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, as well as President Joe Biden. 

Butker, 28, criticized Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned his devotion to Roman Catholicism, calling him “delusional.” Speaking directly to the men in the audience, the athlete advised them to “be unapologetic in your masculinity,” and to “fight against the cultural emasculation of men.”

The pro football player announced that God had given him a platform to speak and that, “I have no other choice but to embrace it,” he said. 

Those in attendance laughed in support of Butker when he mocked Pride month as he cited a recent article by the Associated Press, headlined: “‘A step back in time’: America’s Catholic Church sees an immense shift toward the old ways.” The article detailed the institution’s shift “toward the old ways” and highlighted Benedictine’s rules that “seem like precepts of a bygone age,” which include “volunteering for 3 a.m. prayers” and “pornography, premarital sex and sunbathing in swimsuits being forbidden.”

“I am certain the reporters at the AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn’t be met with anger but instead met with excitement and pride,” said Butker. “Not the deadly sins sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify him.” Butker went on to say that only by surrendering one’s self to Christ will anyone find happiness. 

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane said in a statement addressing his comments. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, called Butker’s speech “inaccurate, ill-informed and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

“Those with expansive platforms, especially athletes, should use their voices to uplift and expand understand and acceptance in the world,” she said in a statement. “Instead, Butker’s remarks undermine experiences not of his own and reveal him to be one who goes against his own team’s commitment to the Kansas City community, and the NFL’s standards for respect, inclusion and diversity across the league.”

Butker called on religious leaders “to stay in their lane and lead,” and told women their place was in the kitchen and the maternity ward.  

“I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” said Butker, and his words were met with thunderous applause. 

“It is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” Butker said.

The Chiefs did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but someone who handles social media for Kansas City posted on X that Butker doesn’t even live in Kansas City but in a suburb 30 miles outside city limits, in a now-deleted tweet. 

Someone then posted an apology using that account:

And Kansas City’s mayor himself apologized, also on X, saying “A message appeared earlier this evening from a City public account. The message was clearly inappropriate for a public account,” he posted. “The City has correctly apologized for the error, will review account access, and ensure nothing like it is shared in the future from public channels.”: 

Butker’s comments earned him comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale, both in his words and in how his beard appeared similar to one of the Hulu series’ characters. 

You can watch Butker’s commencement address in full here: 

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Engaged lesbian teammates spoil Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut

Connecticut Sun fans saw the powerful duo of Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner lead the home team to victory

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Former college basketball phenom Caitlin Clark at the WNBA Draft Press Conference, April 15, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube WNBA)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The sold-out crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena came to see former college basketball phenom Caitlin Clark in her professional debut, but thanks to two women in love with one another, fans also saw the powerful duo of Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner lead the home team to victory. 

The Connecticut Sun broke the Indiana Fever, 92 to 71, on the league’s regular season opening night.

Clark, the WNBA’s number one draft pick, finished with 20 points on 5-of-15 shooting, 4-of-11 on 3-pointers, 6-of-6 free throws. The 22-year-old also had 3 assists, 2 steals and 10 turnovers. But considering this was her WNBA debut, it was a lousy start: Clark went scoreless in the first quarter and missed her first four shots before finally getting on the board midway through the second period.

The Fever offense was overpowered by Thomas, who led the Sun with 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for her ninth career triple-double, which extends her all-time record to 12 if you include the playoffs. 

“I’m just doing what I do,” said Thomas, in a post-game interview with ESPN on the hardwood. “This is my game.” 

Her fiancée, meanwhile, had 20 points and moved into fifth place on the all-time WNBA scoring list, and Thomas spoke about Bonner following the game. 

“I think she’s underrated,” Thomas told ESPN. “Fifth, all time? I mean, come on! It’s unheard of, and at her age? She’s incredible. She makes it look easy out there.” 

Bonner, 36, passed former Phoenix Mercury teammate — and ex-wife Candice Dupree — who finished her career with 6,895 points and last week was named head coach at Tennessee State University.  Bonner did so on a layup in the middle of the third quarter. She now has 6,901 points, and, after a timeout, raised her hands before the crowd to acknowledge the accomplishment.

Thomas, 32, has been dating Bonner since the COVID lockdowns of 2020, when they spent time together in the WNBA “bubble,” as the Los Angeles Blade reported following their engagement in July 2023. 

Bonner, the mother of twin girls with Dupree, also was a major reason for Clark’s early offensive struggles, hounding the guard who before this was the NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader. 

Earlier in the game, Clark managed a steal around the foul line and drove the length of the court before sinking the ball. She later added two free throws and hit a 3-pointer with 29.9 seconds left in the first half. Clark finished the opening 20 minutes with seven points, sinking two of her seven shot attempts. The Fever trailed 49-39 at the break. 

Late in the third quarter, the Fever staged a comeback and closed within six points, with the score 63-57, thanks to two free throws by Clark. But Indiana never got closer the rest of this first game of the season.

DiJonai Carrington and Tyasha Harris each added 16 points for the Sun, who finished the 2023 regular season with a 27–13 record and were the third seed in the 2023 WNBA Playoffs. 

Those 27 wins were the most in franchise history. Unfortunately, they lost 81–92 to the New York Liberty in a must-win game four of the semifinal series to end their season. 

Last month, team president Jennifer Rizzotti accepted the Team Leadership Award at the Connecticut Voice Magazine Honors Gala in Hartford, Conn. She accepted this award on behalf of the Connecticut Sun as the organization continues to lead efforts in DEI and supporting creative and inclusive spaces for those in the LGBTQ+, underrepresented and underserved communities.

Jennifer Rizzotti accepted the Team Leadership Award at the Connecticut Voice Magazine Honors Gala in Hartford, Conn. (Photo: Dawn Ennis/CT Voice)

Next up for the Sun: The Washington Mystics visit Uncasville on Friday, while the Fever host the Liberty on Thursday.

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Out lesbian basketball star Candace Parker tells fans: ‘I’m retiring’

After winning three championships with LA Sparks, Chicago Sky & Las Vegas Aces over 16 seasons, Parker says she’s not returning to the game

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Candace Parker (Screenshot/YouTube Las Vegas Aces)

LAS VEGAS — Just three months ago, it seemed as if three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker would play one more season with the Las Vegas Aces. But this week, the married mom of two — with a third child due this monthannounced on Instagram that she has played her last game as a professional basketball player. 

“I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it. The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time,” Parker wrote. “My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it. I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love. What now was to be my last game, I walked off the court with my daughter. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her.”

That was July 2023. Parker then underwent surgery for a foot injury that caused her to miss the second half of the 2023 season — her tenth surgery in her stellar 16-year career with the WNBA. And it was the outcome of that surgery that Parker says prompted her to decide to not return to the hardwood. “This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t cooperating,” she wrote, adding that she can’t continue “playing in pain.”

“It’s no fun hearing ‘she isn’t the same’ when I know why,” said Parker in her post. “It’s no fun accepting the fact you need surgery AGAIN.”

Parker has two nicknames: “Ace,” which seemed most appropriate in her time with the Aces, and “Can do,” a play on her first name and short for “can do anything,” which pretty much sums up her post-retirement plans. 

“This is the beginning…I’m attacking business, private equity, ownership (I will own both a NBA & WNBA team), broadcasting, production, boardrooms, beach volleyball, dominoes (sorry babe it’s going to get more real) with the same intensity & focus I did basketball.” 

But all that is In addition to expecting a baby this month with her wife and former teammate Anna Petrakova. Parker made it clear that “being a wife & mom still remains priority #1.”

Parker hadn’t publicly acknowledged she and Petrakova had married in 2019 until their second wedding anniversary in December 2021, which is also when she revealed to the world via a post on Instagram they were expecting their first child together. Airr Larry Petrakov Parker was born in February 2022. Parker’s oldest, Lailaa Nicole Williams, was born in 2009 when she was with the Sparks, during her first marriage. 

The couple announced Petrakova was expecting in a post on their fourth wedding anniversary last December. 

Parker, 38, is the only player in WNBA history to have been part of three championship teams. In January 2023, she left the Chicago Sky for Vegas after two years back in her native Illinois. The 6’4 forward/center was a legendary member of the Lady Vols who went on to play for the Los Angeles Sparks for 13 seasons, winning her first WNBA championship. 

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Olympic study: Trans athletes may be at a disadvantage in sports

In a study backed by the IOC, researchers studied 75 trans & cisgender athletes, comparing strength, power & aerobic capacity

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Courtesy of the International Olympic Committee

LONDON — A ground-breaking study, partly funded by the International Olympic Committee, found that transgender athletes could actually be disadvantaged in some competitive sports, contrary to claims by transphobic pundits, politicians and right-wing media.

Scientists found significant differences between trans women and male athletes who were not transgender, aka cisgender men, and noted how similar they were to cis women. 

“These differences underscore the inadequacy of using cisgender male athletes as proxies for transgender women athletes,” said the researchers. 

Their work was published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The researchers tested 23 trans women, 12 trans men, 21 cis women and 19 cis men. The trans athletes had all undergone more than one year of cross-sex hormone therapy. Those tests included cardiovascular, strength and lower-body power exercises. 

According to the research, trans women performed worse than cis women and cis men in certain cardiovascular tests and had less lower-body strength. But the bone density of the trans women was found to be similar to that of the cis female athletes. The trans women athletes also had decreased lung function compared to the cis women. 

Right now, laws on the books in 24 states across the U.S. ban trans student-athletes from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

But the study’s authors concluded that their research indicates trans athletes could be disadvantaged, prompting them to warn sports governing bodies including the IOC that banning trans women from women’s sports should not be done without thorough research.

A “long-term longitudinal study” is now needed, the researchers say.

“The main takeaway message is the requirement of international federations… to treat trans women very differently to cis men,” lead researcher Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis told Outsports. “It follows that research comparing biological men to biological women is almost irrelevant in this debate, and evidence from such comparisons should not be used to inform policy as is the case by many ‘armchair professors’ advocating the default ban position.”

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2024 Music City Open Disc Golf Pro Tour suspends over threats

“This threat is a perfect example of what happens when extreme views are tolerated in a community- Hate and violence have no place anywhere”

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Natalie Ryan during 2022 Disc Golf Pro Tour. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Ryan)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Out transgender professional disc golfer Natalie Ryan faced a greater hazard last weekend than anything on the course: A threat of violence.

“I’ve dealt with threats to myself through my career, but today was different,” Ryan wrote in an Instagram post on April 20. “Today someone called in a threat of violence against myself and potentially the other players, staff, and spectators. Play was suspended today because of this person.”

According to the Disc Golf Pro Tour, the event was paused after receiving that threat of violence, which specifically targeted Ryan, highlighting the security challenges faced by transgender athletes.

“A call came into the event site stating there would be a threat of potential violence against a competitor at this weekend’s tournament,” noted the DGPT, prompting immediate action to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators. 

“April 20, 2024: Earlier this morning, the Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) temporarily suspended competition and spectating at the 2024 Music City Open due to a threat of potential violence against a competitor at this weekend’s tournament. 

“The type of threat was unspecified and made no specific mention of harm to any other person but rose to the level at which tour staff began initiating safety protocols. Metro police were immediately contacted and responded to the scene to assess the situation. The player in question was also notified, as were their cardmates.

“Based on preliminary guidance from Metro police and in the interest of safety for players, staff, volunteers, spectators, and vendors, the DGPT suspended the competition and removed all individuals from the area while the situation was assessed.

“After assessing the situation with Metro police and local tournament staff, additional security measures were deployed on-site, and play resumed at 11:00 AM CT.”

“Threats of violence at DGPT events are utterly unacceptable and are treated with the utmost seriousness by our entire staff,” said Jeff Spring, DGPT CEO and Tour Director. “We have deployed additional security resources to enhance the safety measures in place for all individuals on-site.” Spring said those resources remained in place for the entirety of the weekend tournament. 

“I want to thank local law enforcement and the local tournament staff for their prompt and professional response,” continued Spring. “Furthermore, I want to assure players, spectators, partners, and fans that we are continuing to practice vigilance. We are in continued communication with both the Metro and Nashville police departments, who continue to investigate the situation, and we will continue to coordinate and cooperate with both entities in full.”

Ryan’s post on April 20 framed the threat as a result of intolerance. 

“This threat is a perfect example of what happens when extreme views are tolerated in a community,” she wrote. “Tolerating and including folks with extreme views, like today’s caller, breed these threats. Continuing to use language that makes these people feel comfortable and valid will only make our situation worse. When I ask people to ‘speak up,’ these threats are why it is so important. I hope we can all come together after this and actually try to make sure ALL players, staff, and spectators are safe while we enjoy our sport.”

After play resumed, Ryan finished 15th at 13-over par. Estonian Kristin Tattar won the tournament, continuing her dominance on the tour the last two years, 

Throw Sport, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group within the sport also issued a statement.

“It is one thing to disagree, and for something as new to public debate as trans women competing against cis women, it is understandable that people will disagree,” the group stated. “What is more important than whether you disagree is how you do so. Hate and violence have no place anywhere. Everyone deserves better — do better.”

But that message wasn’t clear to one male competitor, who was penalized for lateness. Austin Hanmum used his social media platform to not only blast tour officials but to reveal his transphobia. “AI get stroked today for being 12 seconds late but PDGA is still allowing dudes to play FPO,” Hanmum posted on X. “Get your priorities and shit together @PDGA”

Ryan responded on Instagram, saying Hanmum used :the exact language that led to the threat being made in the first place.” She challenged PDGA to take action: “If you’re serious about everyone’s safety then this needs to end now.”

Ryan followed-up with good news about her success on the disc golf links on Saturday: “I made the cut at the 2024 Champions Cup! I thought I had no shot after being +5 through the first four holes but I was able to focus up and take down a bunch of clutch birdies coming down the stretch. The past few weeks have been wildly stressful for me both with disc golf related things and a few personal problems that have been tiring me out before I even get to the course. I’m currently sitting T15th. I’m hoping I can keep the good play going, ignore the stressors holding me back and play my best! Speak up! Show up!”

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NBA referees required to wear logo of anti-queer airline Emirates

Emirates airline logo patches adorn uniforms worn by gay ref Bill Kennedy and trans nonbinary ref Che Flores

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Emirates A380 Economy Class. (Photo Credit: Emirates)

NEW YORK — Although the national airline of Dubai announced a new global marketing partnership with the National Basketball Association back on February 8, it’s only now that some have noticed that for the first time, commercial patches promoting Emirates are now prominently displayed on every NBA referee’s uniform. 

That includes out gay NBA ref, Bill Kennedy, who publicly came out in 2015 a week after he ejected a player for hurling homophobic slurs during a game. And the Emirates logo is also part of the uniform worn by the first trans nonbinary NBA referee, Che Flores. 

Out NBA referee Bill Kennedy. (Screenshot/YouTube CBS Sports)

As of press time, neither Kennedy nor Flores have commented on the sponsorship. Kennedy is in his 26th season with the NBA; for Flores, this is their third season. As Sportico reported in February, “financial terms of the tie-up have not been disclosed.” 

But as Outsports noted last weekend, that presumably lucrative contract the NBA signed with Emirates puts the league in cahoots with the Emirate of Dubai, which is one of seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, or U.A.E., where homosexuality is illegal, and punished by death, according to Equaldex. Gender transitions are illegal there, too, and nonbinary identity is not legally recognized. There are no LGBTQ+ protections from discrimination whatsoever, adoption by gay couples is illegal, LGBTQ+ citizens cannot serve in the military or donate blood, and conversion therapy is perfectly legal. 

It’s been this way in the U.A.E. for generations, but despite that, the NBA appeared all too happy to jump in bed with bigots. 

“Emirates is a world-class airline that shares our commitment to engaging fans around the world in new and creative ways,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum in a statement released by Emirates on Feb. 8.  “As basketball continues to be recognized as the fastest growing sport globally, this collaboration will showcase the excitement of the NBA to the millions of people who fly Emirates every year.”

When asked about the U.A.E’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws last year by the StarTribune, Tatum said: “The values of the NBA go with us wherever we go. It doesn’t mean that we agree with all the laws and policies in the more than 200 countries and territories where we do business. We don’t. But what we make sure is whenever we do an event in a particular market, that the values of the NBA, that those travel with us: the values of diversity, inclusion and of equity.”

Emirates does tout its support of women and “gender equality in the workplace” on its website.

The head of Emirates used the word “pride” to describe his feelings about the deal, without a trace of irony.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum inspecting a Emirates A380 Economy Class. (Photo Credit: Emirates)

“We are proud to establish a global marketing partnership with the National Basketball Association to become its Official Global Airline Partner,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Group Chairman and Chief Executive. “This collaboration will also see Emirates become the league’s first referee jersey patch partner and the inaugural title partner of the NBA Cup.  With basketball’s popularity around the world, we are excited to work with one of the most globally recognized and prestigious professional leagues.  The NBA is a valuable addition to our sponsorship portfolio as it allows us to connect with a vast global fanbase, including in the U.S., where the game is an integral part of the country’s sport culture.”

The airline itself is controlled by the Dubai government’s principal investment arm. Emirates is already partnered with eight soccer teams, and owns Arsenal FC’s stadium naming and front-of-shirt rights. The airline also sponsors three of tennis’ four Grand Slam events, as well as one of cycling’s top teams — UAE Team. Added together, Emirates is a sponsor across 24 international sports properties, according to Sportico

While both the WNBA and NBA have long been advocates of the LGBTQ+ community, this new partnership appears to put Emirates above any other allyship, according to the airline’s own statement. For example, the NBA changed the name of its 2025 NBA In-Season Tournament to the Emirates NBA Cup. Emirates signage appeared throughout Gainbridge Fieldhouse at the All-Star Game in Indianapolis, and was seen by fans in 214 countries and territories in 60 languages on television, digital media and social media. And there’s more, according to the Emirates press release: 

“The sponsorship will also allow Emirates to enjoy a presence at other marquee league events, including as a partner of NBA Crossover – an immersive fan event at NBA All-Star – and as the presenting partner of the NBA Finals Legacy Project, which features the dedication of new NBA Cares Live, Learn, or Play Centers in each NBA Finals team market.  Emirates branding will also be visible through virtual in-arena signage and on top of the backboard during nationally televised NBA games, beginning with the 2024 NBA All-Star Game.

“Fans will have the opportunity to watch NBA content on all Emirates flights via the airline’s inflight entertainment system, including long-form documentaries, player profiles, interviews and more.

“The marketing partnership will also allow basketball fans to purchase a wide range of official NBA merchandise, including basketballs, sportswear and vintage collectibles, with co-branded collaborations to follow later this year.  The merchandise will be sold at the official Emirates Store at Emirates’ Headquarters in Dubai and online at www.emirates.store, which delivers worldwide.  Emirates Skywards members can also redeem Miles to purchase items from the exciting range.”

Kennedy, Flores and every other NBA ref have been wearing the Emirates patch since the NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis on Feb. 18, broadcast live around the world. The patches promote an airline operated by a country where being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary is punishable by death. 

Yet they’re only now being noticed. 

Closeted referees have to wear them, too. And starting in 2025, so will refs working in the WNBA, a league that openly welcomes out LGBTQ+ coaches and players. Even the NBA’s minor league refs will be required to wear those Emirates patches later this year.

The Blade has reached out to the NBA, WNBA and Emirates for comment.

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WNBA star Brittney Griner & wife Cherelle expecting first child

“Can’t believe we’re less than three months away from meeting our favorite human being,” the WNBA star shared with Instagram followers

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Cherelle & Brittney Griner are expecting their first child in July. The couple shared the news on Instagram. (Photo Credit: Brittney Griner/Instagram)

PHOENIX — One year after returning to the WNBA after her release from a Russian gulag and declaring, “I’m never playing overseas again,” Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner and her wife announced they have something even bigger coming up this summer. 

Cherelle, 31, and Brittney, 33, are expecting their first child in July. The couple shared the news with their 715K followers on Instagram

“Can’t believe we’re less than three months away from meeting our favorite human being,” the caption read, with the hashtag, #BabyGrinerComingSoon and #July2024.

Griner returned to the U.S. in December 2022 in a prisoner swap, more than nine months after being arrested in Moscow for possession of vape cartridges containing prescription cannabis.

In April 2023, at her first news conference following her release, the two-time Olympic gold medalist made only one exception to her vow to never play overseas again: To return to the Summer Olympic Games, which will be played in Paris starting in July, the same month “Baby Griner” is due. “The only time I would want to would be to represent the USA,” she said last year. 

Given that the unrestricted free agent is on the roster of both Team USA and her WNBA team, it’s not immediately clear where Griner will be when their first child arrives. 

The Griners purchased their “forever home” in Phoenix just last year. “Phoenix is home,” Griner said at the Mercury’s end-of-season media day, according to ESPN. “Me and my wife literally just got a place. This is it.”

As the Los Angeles Blade reported last December, Griner is working with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts — like Griner, an out, married lesbian — on an ESPN television documentary as well as a television series for ABC about her life story. Cherelle is executive producer of these projects. 

Next month, Griner’s tell-all memoir of her Russian incarceration will be published by Penguin Random House. It’s titled Coming Home, and the hardcover hits bookstores on May 7.

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Applause & criticism for Coach Staley’s trans-inclusive stance

“If you’re a woman, you should play. If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports… you should be able to play”

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South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News Today)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — If not for a conservative transphobic blogger, this moment should be a celebration of NCAA women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and the women of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

On Sunday, they concluded their undefeated season with a decisive win and a championship title. But when Staley faced reporters before that big game, Outkick’s Dan Zakheske asked her an irrelevant, clickbait question about transgender women in sports, referring to them as “biological males.” 

Staley could have ignored the question, or stated she had no opinion, but instead the legendary coach offered a crystal clear endorsement of trans women competing in women’s sports, something outlawed in her home state of South Carolina for girls in kindergarten through college. 

“I’m of the opinion,” said Staley, “If you’re a woman, you should play. If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play. That’s my opinion.”

Zakheske clearly wasn’t satisfied with that declaration of allyship and Staley swiftly cut him off. 

“You want me to go deeper?” she asked. 

“Do you think transgender women should be able to participate,” he started to say, when the coach stole the ball and took it downtown on a fastbreak. “That’s the question you want to ask? I’ll give you that. Yes. Yes. So, now the barnstormer people are going to flood my timeline and be a distraction to me on one of the biggest days of our game, and I’m okay with that. I really am.” 

Staley is herself a Hall of Fame player a leading voice for diversity. 

Reaction to her comments were swift, from LGBTQ+ rights organizations, athletes and inclusion opponents. 

“Coach Staley simply spoke the truth that trans women are women and should play if they want,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, in a post on Instagram. “All of us can take a page from Coach Staley’s playbook as a sports leader and as a person of high integrity guided by faith, compassion and common sense.” 

A White House pool reporter revealed President Biden called Coach Staley Sunday evening to congratulate her and the Gamecocks on their championship win. But it’s not clear if she and the president, an outspoken supporter of transgender rights, discussed her remarks on trans athletes. 

A number of Black leaders in the LGBTQ+ movement applauded Staley for taking a stand. 

“Coach Staley has always been a trailblazer, but she’s also shown that true leadership is about advancing justice and equality for everyone,” said Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “By expressing her full-throated support for transgender athletes’ inclusion in sports, she’s sending an important message — our shared humanity matters. 

“Coach Staley showed courage and vulnerability, in choosing to answer the question and make a powerful statement of support for trans people on one of the biggest days and biggest stages in sports history,” said Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, in a statement. “Not only does that make her a leader we can all aspire to like, it makes her a class act. She has etched her legacy in the history books with her play, her coaching, her heart and her smarts.”

In congratulating Staley on her championship title victory, Dr. David J. Johns, the CEO and executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, also commended her for “her unwavering advocacy and support for transgender people in sports.” 

“In a time when transgender athetes face unjust scrutiny, discrimination and exclusion from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, her courage to speak truth to power and in support of inclusion and fairness sets a powerful example for us all, and is a testament to her integrity and compassion.”

The NBJC leader was referring to Monday’s announcement by the NAIA, the governing body of athletic programs at small colleges nationwide, voting 20-0 to essentially ban trans women from competing with other women beginning August 1, as ESPN reported.

“It is a shocking and devastating development that the NAIA, an organization that has done so much to open doors, is now slamming those doors shut on transgender athletes,” said Sasha Buchert, Lambda Legal’s senior attorney and director of the organization’s nonbinary and transgender rights project. 

“Instead of standing up in support of transgender young people, the NAIA has simply turned its back on them — permanently depriving them of the benefits of competition. Would that they had the courage of victorious University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, who didn’t miss a beat in clarifying that transgender women should be able to play.” 

However, praise for Staley’s stance was not universal. 

Riley Gaines, failed former college swimmer and paid shill for the anti-inclusion organization, Independent Women’s Forum, called Staley “entirely incompetent or a sell-out” on Fox News. “Personally, I don’t think she believes what she said.” 

Gaines has turned her fifth-place tie with out trans NCAA champion Lia Thomas into a career as a crusader against inclusion and a former advisor to the presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Val Whiting, a former Stanford University and professional women’s basketball player, tweeted her strong disagreement with Staley. “A lot of my basketball sisters feel differently but trans women do not belong in women’s sports. It’s not fair nor safe for biological women. There has to be another solution for trans women to be able to compete athletically besides having them compete against biological women.” 

Zaksheske’s Outkick colleague, anti-trans pundit David Hookstead, also went all-in with a transphobic post. 

“Dawn Staley says she supports men who identify as women competing against real women in sports. Her view could literally destroy women’s basketball forever. Why won’t more people stand up for women?”

Hookstead then boasted that Staley blocked his account. 

South Carolina Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace retweeted Zaksheske’s account of his interaction with Staley, calling her support of trans athletes “absolute lunacy.” That in turn won praise from Caitlyn Jenner, who retweeted Whiting and posted her thanks to Rep. Mace, along with this comment: “There is nothing complicated about this issue!” 

What is complicated is that Jenner has never explained why she has competed with cisgender women in golf ever since her transition almost a decade ago. 

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Olympic swimmer Sean Gunn comes out to the world as gay

Years after being out to college teammates: “I was really lucky that everyone was so amazing & wanted me to be happiest version of myself”

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Olympic swimmer Sean Gunn (right) with his boyfriend near his home in Cape Town. (Gunn/Instagram)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — It’s the end of summer here, and Olympian Sean Gunn is reflecting on his life in the pool, dating and coming out, thousands of miles and several years away from where he is now. 

Now 30, the Zimbabwe native has a boyfriend and a career that does not include laps. But in 2016, Gunn was attending college at the University of Kentucky.and part of relay teams that broke school records. This week he told a reporter that was also where he finally accepted that he was gay. 

“I left home when I was 18 years old to go live, train and study in the USA,” Gunn told Outsports about his time in Kentucky. 

“Initially I was not out at all, I dated girls for the first few years. I had some really great relationships with girls over the years and really loved them.” 

In fact, one relationship was long-term, he said. “But after that ended, I dated a guy in the U.S., which all my friends and team knew about.”

Gunn said he received no blowback. At all.

“My team, and everyone who did know, was very supportive and happy for me,” said Gunn. “I honestly don’t think anything really changed at all. If anything, friendships just became better. I think in my head I built it up for so long, and I was terrified that the way they acted or treated me would be different. But I was really lucky that everyone was so amazing and wanted me to be the happiest version of myself.”

Gunn decided to wait to tell his family back home in Africa. For almost a decade. 

“Unfortunately I only came out to my family and people back at home much later in life,” he said. “Although I haven’t had one bad experience since coming out, I guess I just struggled with it for way too long. 

“As someone who did struggle with coming out and only did come out at 27 to my family, it makes me so happy to be surrounded by friends and family and so much love, and am really grateful for them all.”

Gunn competed in the 100-meter freestyle at the Rio Summer Olympic Games in 2016, and set a national record in the event: 50.87 seconds. His 200-meter freestyle national record from earlier that year remains unbroken. 

“I honestly loved every second of the whole experience,” Gunn told Outsports. “I had dreamed of going to the Olympics since I was a little kid, and the whole time I was there I had to keep reminding myself that this is real life.

“Knowing how much it took for me to get there has been a solid reminder to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to and set me up well for life after the Olympics and after a swimming career.”

Now, he said he prefers running to swimming. And enjoying life, as the seasons are about to shift from summer to autumn in South Africa. 

“My life really is in such a good space right now, and I have so much to be grateful for! I’m getting older, but I’ve never felt younger, fitter and happier, which means the world to me!”

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