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Hey Coach Jason Kreis! New York Wants A Gay Soccer Player!

Jason_kreisBY DAVID MIXNER

By 2015, New York City will have a new major league soccer team owned by the famous Manchester City. This will be the second in the area with the New Jersey Bulls playing in Harrison, New Jersey. In an announcement this month, the New York City FC presented Jason Kreis (right) as the new coach for the franchise. Now the process of picking the players and ironing out the logistics of where the team will play in NYC.

Kreis has an incredible opportunity to break the glass ceiling here in New York City. The Big Apple has never had an openly gay player in any of its major male sports franchises. While the Los Angeles Galaxy has snapped up out athlete Robbie Rogers and former World Cup German player Thomas Hitzlsperger (below) recently came out of the closet, the time has come for Major League Soccer to embrace the momentum and show the rest of the leagues the way.

T_hitzlspergerOne can't help but wonder what would happen to Hitzlsperger if he was still playing. After the Russians host the Olympics, they will be hosting the World Cup in 2018 and that will be followed by one in Qatar.

In a Guardian/Observer editorial after the German player's coming out, the paper stated:

Now, everyone agrees that a footballer's sexuality should not be a big deal in 2014, but FIFA's response still felt a little casual. Enthusiastically backing Hitzlsperger seemed like an open goal for the organisation, particularly with its recent patchy record on gay rights. The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, which has introduced laws to ban gay "propaganda"; four years later, the tournament moves to Qatar, where homosexuality is still punished with a prison sentence.

There is genuine speculation that players and spectators will be vetted by a Kuwaiti-engineered "gay test" in 2022. When Sepp Blatter, the Clouseau-esque president of Fifa, was asked in 2010 about the issue, he smiled and suggested that homosexual football fans would just have to "refrain from sexual activity" in Qatar. Pushed further last June, he deflected: "What you are speaking about… this is going into ethics and morals." But venturing into these thorny areas is exactly what Fifa should be doing. After years of punishing racism with ineffectual fines, Blatter recently suggested he would be getting tough: deducting points from clubs, eliminating them from competitions. Why should homophobia be any different?

KreisThe Wall Street Journal reports on the new franchise in New York City:

"As he goes about building his first NYCFC side, Kreis will have the enviable resources of Manchester City at his disposal, including a 36-strong scouting team—14 of whom are, significantly, in South America—and the option to loan players from the Manchester City development system. But he will still need all of his powers of good housekeeping as he negotiates the MLS salary cap and a rule book that forces a competitive parity his new bosses are unfamiliar with."

The time has come for New York City to get ahead of the game! With a 36 member scouting team, surely New York City FC should be able to find one great gay soccer player. Really, it can't be that difficult. Coach Kreis has not only the opportunity to make history in New York City but to build a powerful new fan base for his club.

For heaven's sake, don't make New Yorkers go to the stadium and cheer Los Angeles Galaxy because we have no openly gay soccer player in New York. Can you imagine, Sir, how hard that will be for us?

Do the right thing from day one of this club and find a top notch openly gay player that will lead our team to victory, fill the stands with new fans and make all New Yorkers proud to wear that player's jersey.

Watch the press conference announcing Kreis as coach, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay NFL Star Jerry Smith's Career Examined in Groundbreaking Broadcast

Smith

BY DAVID MIXNER

National Football League Network Senior Producer Paul Monusky was asked to do a short five minute film on former Washington Redskins star Jerry Smith.

Jerry_SmithThe record setting football star was closeted his entire football career and died of AIDS on October 15, 1986. When Monusky ran into former teammates Chris Hanburger and Bobby Mitchell who sang Smith's praises, his playing ability and said everyone on the team 'sort of knew' that Smith was gay, Monusky realized that this was more than a five minute story.

As a result, this Tuesday night (January 21), NFL Network's "A Football Life"will air an historical hour on former Washington Redskin Jerry Smith. The show will air at 9PM EST and will be repeated throughout the week on the channel.

After the show, Jenn Brown will host "A Football Life: Backstory" which will delve deeper into Smith's life. Joining her will be Smith's former Redskins teammates Brigg Owens and Calvin Hill. In addition, I personally will be a guest.

Monusky, in an exclusive interview with Towleroad.com, said, "This show is a first and is unlike anything we have done on the NFL Network. The show, without a doubt, is a groundbreaker."

Jerry Smith was a giant among football players.

NFL Films describes Smith for the upcoming special.

Almost 50 years ago, a young tight end named Jerry Smith joined the Washington Redskins. After 13 seasons on the team, Smith retired, but not before making two Pro Bowls, one All-Pro team, and playing in a Super Bowl. He set an NFL record with 60 receiving touchdowns, the most ever by a tight end (that record stood for 26 years). Smith was also gay, something that most of his teammates knew, but didn’t care about.

We interviewed 11 of Smith’s former teammates, plus other media members and family. In this film, we will explore how Jerry Smith’s sexuality was a constant source of fear for him, and how today it is not a concern for his teammates, who respected Jerry because of the person he was and what he could do on the field.

Smith,Jerry7

When Monusky was asked in our interview what he learned most from producing this show on Smith, he said:

"Would have to say that the issue with an openly gay player is not so much with the teammates as it is with others. All the teammates care about is if you are an excellent player and will help them win."

Monusky continued:

"The biggest surprise for me was learning the amount of fear that Jerry lived with every day of his life. I don't think he would have been allowed to play or he would have resigned from the team if he had come out."

While the Senior Producer would never tell someone playing the NFL League today that they had to come out, he believes it will happen in the next year or two. He believes the reaction would depend on both how good a player he is on the field, and his personality off the field.

"It would have to be a Jackie Robinson type person who could thrive on the field while dealing with such intense pressure from the outside."

Personally having known Jerry Smith when he played for the Washington Redskins, I can only hope this historical broadcast will open up the doors to the Football Hall of Fame where he belongs among the other giants of Pro Football.

You can watch the trailer for the film by simply clicking here.

 


Will Our Young Lead Us To A Gender Free Future?

BY DAVID MIXNER

541618_374978435950280_1527175703_nOne of my favorites quotes is from Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell who wrote in the first lines of his three volume autobiography:

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind"

The quote has been on my desk ever since it first appeared. Russell continues:

"I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved."

Even now, being officially a 'senior citizen,' one the great joys of my life is seeking new knowledge. Taking great pride in living my life on the edge, I seek not only wisdom from those who have come before me but also I discover joy in listening to where our young want to lead us.

Recently over dinner with a new young friend he wonderfully shared his vision of a 'gender-free' world. While having some knowledge of the concept, the reality of how important this is to young people was an eye opener. Clearly this could be a real possibility for future generations and it was exciting to learn from him what it meant. The endless potential for healing between people simply by erasing the concept of gender is breathtaking.

This former college football player who gives off a strikingly handsome, self confident and masculine aura, was fearless in his convictions. With great animation he shared with me the dialogue taking place among his friends who were attempting to abolish gender.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Where Anti-Gay Laws are Concerned, Nigeria Is No Russia

BY DAVID MIXNER

You bet Nigeria is no Russia. It is much worse than Russia.

JonathanWhile the LGBT community is jumping up and down (as we should be) about Russia, Sochi and the severe repression of Russia's gay community, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has just signed much more repressive legislation against LGBT citizens.

The repercussions of this new law are chilling.

Not only does the law ban marriage equality but also any LGBT relationship. If discovered, gay couples will be sentenced to fourteen years in jail. That is bad enough. However, it also provides for ten years in jail for forming any LGBT organization or supporting the formation of one. The law criminalizes even meetings between homosexuals.

Basically, you can now go to prison in Nigeria for owning an LGBT club, creating a LGBT social organization, supporting or forming an LGBT advocacy organization or simply meeting to discuss LGBT issues. The prison terms are harsh. The prison conditions are shockingly bad.

The odds of an LGBT African being sent to a Nigerian prison for ten to fourteen years and emerging alive are almost nil. Any such sentence is a death sentence.

Africa must be on LGBT Americans' radar screen as much as Russia. The conditions are rapidly deteriorating and tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters are impacted by these draconian laws. Uganda still has pending legislation waiting to be signed by its President that would trump Nigeria and give LGBT Ugandans a life sentence.

Secretary of State John Kerry has lobbied against the new Nigerian laws and quickly expressed America's shock and concern.

Religius_and_Ethnic_map_of_NigeriaWith all the dramatic problems facing Nigeria (including an insurgency that threatens its very existence as a nation state) why would President Jonathan be using political capital to pass and sign such legislation? It is exactly because of the Boko Haram insurgency that the President has signed the law. With his signature, he distracts his Christian followers from his failure to stop Boko Haram in the Islamic northern provinces.

Ironically, the anti-gay law only deepens the division in this frail nation state and in the end won't make a damn bit of difference in the direction of the emerging civil war. Don't be surprise to see political opponents arrested for 'homosexual conduct'.

LGBT Americans must put pressure on the Obama administration to take decisive action against Nigeria and Uganda now, or no nation in Africa will feel there is a price to be paid for these kind of horrific laws directed at LGBT Africans.


Welcome David Mixner

Some of you may have read the news over at longtime gay activist and author David Mixner's blog that he is shutting it down to work on other projects.

MixnerWhile we are sad to see his rich, opinionated, energized site come to an end we are thrilled that one of the pursuits born as a result will be a regular series of columns at Towleroad, in which David will write about LGBT issues, foreign policy, politics, and other of his varied interests such as wildlife and the climate.

David's tenacious and admirable work as an activist, fundraiser, strategist, consultant, and advisor to LGBT community organizations and public figures and his engaging writing style will inform and energize the conversation at Towleroad and I couldn't be more excited to have him joining us. As a personal friend, I thank him, and I hope you'll welcome him too.


Barilla Pasta Announces Major 'Diversity and Inclusion' Initiative in Response to Anti-Gay Controversy

Barilla, the international pasta maker who came under fire in September after its chairman Guido Barilla told a radio host that gay people could find another brand if they didn't like the fact that the company would never make an advertisement with gay people in it, today announced a new Diversity & Inclusion Board, a Global Diversity Officer, and participation in the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

BarillaThe new initiatives are a result of meetings with civil and human rights leaders in Italy and the United States, it says.

Said Chief Executive Officer Claudio Colzani in a press release:

“Diversity, inclusion and equality have long been grounded in Barilla’s culture, values and code of conduct. They are reflected in our policies and the benefits we provide to all employees, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. At the same time, we are committed to promoting diversity further because we firmly believe that it’s the right thing to do.”

The steps include:

- A newly-established Diversity & Inclusion Board, comprising external experts and advocates who will help Barilla establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture with regard to sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights and multicultural and intergenerational issues. Individuals who have accepted positions on the Board to date include, David Mixner, a prominent global leader in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and Alex Zanardi, a Paralympic gold medalist.

- Appointment of the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Talita Erickson, a Brazilian-born attorney who for the past year has served as General Counsel to Barilla America.

- Participation in the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) created by the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign to measure and rate large companies on their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) employees.

4_barillaSaid Mixner: “I am encouraged by Barilla’s commitment to seek outside guidance and advice on these crucial issues and pleased to be a part of it. I am also impressed with the willingness of the Chairman and company to listen and learn from LGBT community leaders and work towards improving diversity, inclusion and equality.”

The company adds:

Barilla will also launch a global online contest in 2014 designed to engage people on diversity, inclusion and equality. Entrants will be asked to create short videos that represent the multifaceted nature of pasta, which will be submitted to the web community to be liked, shared and voted. The videos will be then judged by an expert panel and the winners will receive awards.


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