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04/19/2007


First Inductees of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame Honored in Chicago

21 individuals, three organizations, one sports team, and one corporation were among those honored Friday night in Chicago as the first inductees to the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. The events, according to CBS News, included "a dinner Friday night to honor the inductees at a ceremony at the Center on Halsted and an event on Saturday at Wrigley Field called 'Out at Wrigley,' which organizers says is the largest "Gay Day' at a major league sporting event."

PalloneAmong those inducted was Dave Pallone, who umpired the first night game at Wrigley Field.

Said Pallone, via the AP:

"It is a tremendous honor and ... I hope it gives young people and adults alike who happen to be LGBT and want to be in professional sports another example of why they should continue to strive for their dreams," Pallone said.

Pallone also spoke out about the situation in Russia: "The Olympic Games are for the athletes, not for political or religious figures. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, colors and orientations," said David Pallone, a former umpire in Major League Baseball. "I truly believe that the IOC should really start thinking about the athletes before they select the host cities."

The complete list of the organization's first inductees:

Gay Games, Outsports.com, Chicago Cubs, International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), Anheuser Busch, Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Ben Cohen, Dave Pallone, Justin Fashanu, LZ Granderson, Christina Kahrl, Dr. Tom Waddell, Chuck Dima, Jerry Pritikin, Dave Kopay, Glenn Burke, Renee Richards, Billie, Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Patty Sheehan, Andrew Goldstein, Jason Collins, Orlando Cruz and Johnny Weir.


UK Soccer Fans Are Ready For An Openly Gay Player

It seems like soccer fans in Europe care more about the way the sport is played than who plays in the games themselves. So says a new research study in the UK:

Justin"In a survey of 3,000 people published by the University of Staffordshire, eight out of 10 supporters said gay players would have a positive effect on the sport, comparable to how the influx of black players helped the games tackle racism in the 1980s and 1990s." 

"'One fan told us: 'I'd rather have a gay player who can play than a straight one who can't.' And this is a typical view, not just from supporters but from everyone associated with football,' said Ellis Cashmore, professor of culture, media and sport at the University, in the Observer newspaper."

About half of those questioned could see a positive impact from a well-known player's coming out, comparing him to Gareth Thomas, who came out at the peak of his rugby career.

The Guardian reports: "Of those football fans questioned in the research, more than 52% believe the greatest cause for a change in attitudes in the game would be a Gareth Thomas-type player coming out. A campaign backed by leading players was also considered by almost 31% to be influential."

One respondent in the study believes an openly gay footballer could be win-win for the player: "He could make a lot of money [as] the first gay footballer....when football joins the 21st century."

The actual first player in the sport to publicly come out was Justin Fashanu who did so in 1990. He sadly took his own life eight years later.


Activist Team Named for Gay Footballer Who Committed Suicide

Fashanu

Hoping to make some strides against homophobia in British football, a team has named itself after former Nottingham Forest and Norwich player Justin Fashanu (above, right), an openly gay player who took his own life at the age of 37.

Fashanu2 The BBC reports: "The Justin Fashanu All-stars were launched at a special event in Brighton, supported by the FA. The team has been created by the Justin Campaign which promotes the inclusion of openly gay players in football.

The pink and black team kit which is sponsored by DJ Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim, was unveiled at the event on Saturday. The side, which is open to gay or straight footballers, is to play its first fixtures at the Gay Football Supporters Network five-a-side tournament in Yorkshire. Jason Hall, from the Justin Campaign, said: 'We decided that the best thing to do was to have a campaigning football team so the football does the talking. Hopefully [we'll] change people's opinions of gay people on the pitch.'"

Fashanu remains, to this day, the sport's only openly gay player. At the time of his death, following an injury that hampered his career, there were apparently allegations of sexual assault of a teen in the U.S. which he denied in his suicide note and claimed he would be treated with bias because of his sexuality: "The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide, saying Mr Fashanu had appeared to triumph over prejudice about his colour and his homosexuality but the pressures, coupled with the alleged incident, had overwhelmed him."


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