Latest ‘LGBT’s In The News’ panel series asks: Who can play?Event Calendar, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Thursday, January 11th, 2018
SAN DIEGO—Live, in-person at Gossip Grill Thursday, January 18, LGBTs In The News with Thom Senzee, in partnership with the You Can Play Project, invite members of the public to a free, groundbreaking conversation about LGBTQ participation in sports and athletics at all levels.
“This panel is about the next frontier in the quest for equality, visibility and inclusion in society,” said Thom Senzee, founder and moderator of LGBTs In The News, a nationwide live-discussion panel series. “Competitive sports stand out among human endeavors as a domain where a reasonable person might expect the merits of athletic skill and the ability to win would eclipse prejudices.”
Nevertheless, he says, talented athletes from all marginalized groups have had to demand the right to compete.
“Whether it’s overcoming ableism, gender discrimination, sexism, racism, homophobia, or transphobia, every minority community has had to break though discrimination and judgement in order to take their game to the playing fields, the ball courts, the rinks and competition courses,” Senzee continued. “Winning visibility—and winning, period—in sports is a rite of passage toward achieving equality.”
While the event is free, RSPVs are requested. Attendees should email their names and number of guests to email@example.com.
Despite the courageous, high-profile comings out of former NFL player, Michael Sam and former 13-season NBA basketball center, and one-time All-American play (Stanford, 2000-01), Jason Collins, as Outsports magazine noted in late 2017: “There aren’t any out gay male athletes in major professional sports [now].” The article lamented the retirement of Los Angeles Galaxy winger and full back, Robbie Rogers.
The good news, however—according to Outsports—is that this year there will be five openly gay college football players.
Headlining the January 18 pane, which begins with a meet-and-greet at Gossip Grill in San Diego’s historically LGBTQ neighborhood, is comedic actor, stand-up comic and network-television comedy writer, Erin Foley—host of Lifetime’s Mixologist and a Movie, as well as her own podcast, Sports without Balls.
“The sports world should be a fun, safe, welcoming environment for everyone regardless of sexual orientation,” Foley said. “The You Can Play Project helps to create this environment every day, which is great because lesbians will only make your softball team better.”
Joining Foley, while also making history as the first-ever panelist to be part of an LGBTs In The News engagement who is a straight ally, Matt Savant is president of business operations for the San Diego Gulls professional hockey club. The Gulls are the primary development affiliate of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Anaheim Ducks.
The NHL and professional hockey, moreover, have been at the forefront of making sports at all levels more accessible, safe and fun for all players. The You Can Play Project was formed to fight homophobia in sports and to honor the life of openly gay Miami University RedHawks goalie and student manager, Brendan Burke, who died in 2010 at age 21 in an automobile accident.
The panel engagement will precede, by two nights, a special San Diego Gulls Diversity Night and tailgate party, happening, Saturday, January 20.
“You Can Play is excited to partner with the Gulls to promote inclusion and respect in hockey and beyond,” said Chris Mosier, vice president of program development and community relations at You Can Play. “This night shows LGBTQ athletes, coaches, and fans and their allies that they are not only welcomed at Valley View Casino Center with open arms, but also valued as members of the San Diego Gulls family.”
Fellow LGBTs In The News panelist, college athlete and You Can Play regional ambassador, Sam Johnson says there’s a lot of work to do, but that the future is brighter than ever for LGBTQ athletes.
“I am extremely excited to be collaborating with LGBTs In The News, the San Diego Gulls and You Can Play, to create a thought-provoking and meaningful discussion,” said Johnson, who plays defense for the accomplished Whittier College Poets NCAA Division III soccer team.
“Who Can Play? will prove to be inspiring and eye-opening as LGBT involvement in professional, amateur and school sports is discussed,” he said. “If you find yourself wondering why there aren’t more out athletes, don’t miss this event.”
Johnson, who The Seattle Times named one of Western Washington’s best high school soccer players, made news when he came out as gay after feeling compelled to do something positive in response to the mass shooting at Pulse Orlando.
Rounding out the panel, Brooke Sullivan is a tech professional, equality activist, and athlete. Currently taking time off to recover from injuries, she played tight-end and defensive-end for the San Diego Surge women’s tackle football team.
“Organizations like YCPP are key to raising awareness in the greater sporting communities and their members, leading way to create more inclusive, safe, and positive environments for athletes no matter their gender or sexual orientation,” she said.
As a San Diego Pride volunteer for the past seven years, Sullivan has served as the organization’s Community Advisory Council chair, later stage-managing Pride’s entertainment department. She now organizes the Trans-Gender Nonconforming area at the annual Pride festival. having done so for the past five years.
Sullivan has also been a board member at The T-Spot, Inc. and currently serves as the group’s vice president. The T-Spot Inc. focuses on education and community outreach through cultural sensitivity trainings, tabling, events and a yearly resource guide for local transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming communities.
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