Baltimore Hub

Ravens Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo Plans to Carry Marriage Equality Advocacy to Super Bowl


NYT columnist Frank Bruni reports on an email sent by Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Raven and marriage equality advocate Brendon Ayanbadejo in the early morning hours after his team won the AFC Championship:

XlviiHe tapped out an email to Brian Ellner, a leading marriage-equality advocate with whom he had worked before, and Michael Skolnik, the political director for Russell Simmons, a hip-hop mogul who has become involved in many issues, including same-sex marriage.

Ayanbadejo wrote: “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?” The time stamp on the email was 3:40:35 A.M.

Ayanbadejo, who says his ultimate goal is to bring his message to Ellen DeGeneres' show with a Super Bowl ring and "bust a move", is currently figuring out the best way to make that message resonate in the biggest arena in pro football:

Throughout his week, Ayanbadejo has been—and will be—talking to gay-rights advocates about how to seize this moment. For example, he’s been swapping emails with Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, a group dedicated to ridding sports at all levels—high school, college, professional—of homophobia.

“He’s so excited and ready to take a stand in whatever way he can,” said Taylor. “He is leveraging the biggest sports stage in the world.”

He’s also in conversations with Ellner and Skolnik specifically about marriage equality. Said Ellner: “He understands that as a straight biracial player in the Super Bowl, he can have a huge impact on the future of this issue.”

And we'll be rooting for him.

Baltimore Commish Leads Rally Against Anti-Gay Violence

ShawYesterday, to raise awareness of violence targeting gay people, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts declared, "I want to come together as a community and make sure we connect and do the right things for every part of our community."

"If there's more that we can do, if there's more that I can do, I am here to serve you," he said at the rally, held outside the liquor store where Kenni Shaw was beaten on Christmas.(Before and after, seen at the right.)

The police can't yet prove this was an anti-gay attack, and Batts told The Baltimore Sun the evidence does not point to one, but that does not mean that this is not a perfect opportunity to broaden Baltimore's understanding of hate crimes.

Rally organizer Rev. Kinji Scott, a gay Baptist preacher, told the paper, "In our community in the past we've had people beat, raped and murdered, but we've not had much action in terms of violence against black gay men. [And] you have Kenni Shaw who is willing to stand up when most people are quiet and afraid."

It wasn't a particularly large rally - maybe about 40 people - but it's a start, and Batts' apparent commitment to using this as a positive, learning experience will hopefully make a huge impact.

Brendon Ayanbadejo: Only 3% Of NFL Is Gay

BrendonBrendon Ayanbadejo, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker who became one of the sport's most vocal supporters of marriage equality this year, was asked by Fox Sport's Alex Marvez whether when he thinks an NFL player will come out while still playing the field.

Basically, Ayanbadejo's not sure, mostly because he thinks there's a far lower percentage of gay people among players than among the general population.

Regardless of when this hypothetical player comes out, though, Ayanbadejo's convinced he'll be able to make some serious cash selling his story.

The transcript, via Outsports:

Marvez: ...How long do you think it will be until the first active gay NFL player emerges?

Ayanbadejo: That's a good question. I don't know. I have a whole theory that some people would believe is kind of counterintuitive to a lot of stuff that I preach about LGBT rights. In no way am I trying to offend the LGBT community. But my theory after playing in the NFL for so long is that there are certain traits NFL players have and don’t have.

Now, if there's a negative thing about NFL players, we tend to be angrier (than non-players). We clearly have higher testosterone because you have to genetically to play this game. With that comes bipolar (disorder), split personality and certain negative things. That’s not everybody, but I think the rate is higher than the general population.

I believe that there are not as many gay people in the NFL as in the regular population. This is a discussion I’ve been having on Twitter for quite some time now. Some people say, "You're stupid." But even though there is not yet a proven gay gene, I believe people are born gay. It is a natural phenomenon.

There are definitely gay players in the NFL. I'm not saying that there are not. Some people say the gay guys in the NFL aren't coming out because they're scared and worried about what’s going to happen to their careers. But I think the first person who comes out and says they are gay, everyone is going to write a book and do stories about them. They're going to make a lot more money by saying they're gay than by not saying they’re gay. But are we ready to hear that? Is that person going to be comfortable to do that? I don’t think they are right now because of society and the way things are.

Eventually, I think there will be someone. But the number (of gay players) is so minute. If they say the regular population is 7 to 9 percent (LGBT), in the NFL it might be 3 percent. I could be completely wrong, but I've played for so long and so many others have. When you hear players coming out that are retired, they are few and far between. Why wouldn’t we hear about more players if it's the same percentage like in the regular population?

What I'm saying is controversial. There is no proof. It's just my theory.

Baltimore Gay Man Suspects Hate In Christmas Attack


Kenni Shaw's Christmas ended on a horrifying note when five men jumped the 30-year old in his East Baltimore neighborhood. Though police have some suspects and leads, they're falling short of a motive. For Shaw, the answer is obvious: homophobia.

From The Baltimore Sun's report:

"I was pinned down by punches," Shaw said of the beating he received Christmas night, outside the East Baltimore liquor store he frequents near his home. "It was so hard that I felt my lip and side face swell up immediately. I was trying to talk to these guys, but they weren't letting me talk."

Instead, they were intent on beating him — simply out of hate, said Shaw, a 30-year-old gay man.

"I was just beaten in my face. Nothing was taken. No words were exchanged before the incident," he said. "So to me, I think it was a hate crime."

He knows he stands out in his Berea neighborhood. His dyed blond hair rests atop a wiry, 6-foot frame. His chosen career path, as a cosmetologist and hairstylist, puts him at odds with the tough mentality of other men in the neighborhood. He's noticed the tension that creates before, in offhand comments muttered by men he doesn't know but recognizes, about them not wanting "faggots living on the block," he said.

As the investigation continues, Shaw, who is recovering at his mother's house, says he intends to use his own experience to help spread the word about anti-gay violence.

"It makes me angry and upset, but at the same time, I am here and I made it through. I just want to stand and make sure I have a voice, so this doesn't happen again to a loved one or anyone," he said. "I'm glad I could be a spokesman, because a lot of people don't make it through situations like this."

And his mother's right there by his side: "As long as my son is willing to stand up, I'm going to back my son 100 percent."

Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo Speaks Out on Gay Rights on CNN 'Starting Point': VIDEO


Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo appeared on CNN's Starting Point this morning to talk about the letter sent by Maryland lawmaker Emmett C Burns Jr. asking Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to stop Ayanbadejo from speaking out about gay rights and marriage equality. Burns backtracked over the weekend, but has drawn national attention to the issue.


CNN contributor Richard Socarides asked Ayanbadejo what the response has been from other players:

There's still some issues that people don't understand, some fundamental issues when it comes to marriage equality.  I think the most problem that players have is the tie between religion and equal rights.  You have to make it, you know, not a religious issue.  It's really just an equal rights issue.  And we're just trying to get approval from every state for each person to marry and not in a church.  We're not going to change anything religiously.  And people have their rights religiously and religious freedom as well.  We're trying to get letters from every state that people can have a marriage document and that's recognized in every state.
So once you get over that barrier, guys say, hey, love is love and you should be able to marry who you love.  It's really a changing of the guard in the football community because this even 12 months ago when I was doing op-eds for marriage equality, I would still hear certain snickering in the background.  I think we've changed the tide and come a long way in a short period of time.  And I'm really excited that my cohorts and my teammates and my team, the Baltimore Ravens, and the city and everybody is really supporting and gathering behind me in the cause to treat people fairly all in the name of love.

Also appearing in the segment is former professional football player Wade Davis, who has come out since leaving the NFL. Davis is asked if the League's ready for a gay player.

Says Davis:

"I think we're definitely ready.  The NFL as a whole has made so many great steps and strides.  We have players like Brendon coming out [in support] and the e-mail Chris sent as well.  I think the tide is changing.  I think we're making such great strides.  The NFL brings in players now to do, like, town hall meetings, to talk to other players.  The tide is definitely changing."

Davis says he "can't answer" if he knows of any current players are gay, to which Will Cain interjects: "I'd say that's a yes."


MD Lawmaker Asks Ravens Owner to Curb Brendon Ayanbadejo's Support for Equality [tlrd]
Ravens Player Ayanbadejo Responds to Request That He STFU About Gay Rights [tlrd]
Vikings Punter  Kluwe Comes Out Swinging in Defense of Ayanbadejo and Gay Rights [tlrd]
Vikings Punter  Kluwe, Defender of Marriage Equality, Appears on 'The Ed Show' [tlrd]
Anti-Gay MD Lawmaker Burns  Backs Down from Bid to Silence Brendon Ayanbadejo [tlrd]

Continue reading "Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo Speaks Out on Gay Rights on CNN 'Starting Point': VIDEO" »

Baltimore FOX Affiliate Helps Gather Names for Maryland Voter Referendum on Marriage Equality


Baltimore's WBFF FOX45 is helping anti-gay activists gather signatures for a voter referendum on marriage equality. See link (lower right) in front page banner image I've screencapped above.

Writes Kevin Naff at the Blade:

So much for “fair and balanced.” I wonder what the gay employees of Fox News and its affiliates — like anchor Shepard Smith — think about the company endorsing this referendum. Let WBFF and Fox know what you think of their marriage opposition, email or call 410-467-4545.

A WBFF employee who works on the website told me that the link did not originate with the local web staff and was posted by “corporate.” The number for that office is 410-568-1500. The person who answered that number referred me back to the local station.

Governor Martin O'Malley has not even signed the bill into law yet. That happens this Thursday.


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