Each week, Outsports stops the clock for an instant reply of the week that was. It’s our way of memorializing the glorious victories, the ignominious defeats, and the players and personalities who made them, lived them or just couldn’t avoid them. This week we have a bounty of winners, and the losers are few and far between.
We realize our roster may differ from yours, and we welcome your comments, contributions and critiques. We read them all! Details on how to reach us are below, after our look at this week’s winners and losers.
Winner: Adam Rippon
Adam Rippon has a new YouTube show, and stints on TV, as he transitions careers in front of the camera. The Olympian wants to leave his skating career behind and forge a completely new media career.
“I want to break away from being ‘the skater,’” he said, “and I’ve been working hard to do that.”
As Cyd Zeigler wrote, Rippon was born to be in front of the camera, lighting up the room every time he’s been interviewed, be it by the women of The View or Elmo. Yet Rippon says his calling is on the other side of those exchanges, hosting shows and asking the questions.
He’s landed a bunch of one-off hosting and interviewing gigs, namely with Samantha Bee and the Today Show, as well as red-carpet stints at the ESPYs and the CMAs for Good Morning America. He’s also been tapped as a correspondent for Nightline and Good Morning America, landing conversations with the Fab Five 2.0 and actress Cate Blanchett.
Loser: Nick Symmonds
Olympian Nick Symmonds weighed in on the Caster Semenya case and basically threw intersex athletes under the bus.
The renowned LGBTQ ally, who protested Russia’s anti-gay laws, by dedicating his silver medal to gay fans, has surprised many declaring fellow Olympian sprinter Caster Semenya should not be able to run against women.
Semenya, who was assigned female at birth, raised female, and competed her entire life in women’s competitions, is black, she’s queer, and she’s fast as hell. South Africa’s track federation announced it will appeal the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, barring Olympic Gold Medalist Caster Semenya from running unless she undergoes medical interventions to lower her natural levels of testosterone.
Symmonds’ narrow view of equality undercuts the rights of intersex athletes and subjects them to injustices that are far beyond black and white. Though he offers a plethora of prequalification, he delivers a painfully obsolete rationale.
“Either we’re unfair to the 49 percent of people born 46 XX female or were unfair to the 1.7 percent of people born intersex. It hurts me to say this, but it seems only reasonable that if we have to be unfair to one group, we be unfair to the smaller group of individuals.”
As Outsports contributor and social media maven Haley Videckis wrote, if Symmonds finds no fault in the IAAF’s inquisition into the sex lives of women like Semenya, his membership with the NOH8 Campaign and status as an ally to the LGBTQ community should be revoked.
Winner: Chick-fil-A, Texas Republicans and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
The fast food chain with the fervent religious mission emerged as a winner this week as its conservative political allies and charitable arm made headlines in support of that mission.
On Friday, the FAA announced it has opened an investigation into whether airports in San Antonio, Tex., and Buffalo, N.Y., discriminated against Chick-fil-A when they denied the fast-food chain vending space.
Earlier in the week, Texas’s Republican-controlled house of representatives passed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, which explicitly forbids the state government from taking “any adverse action,” against any person, contractor or business for its membership in or affiliation with a religious organization.
Also this week, Chick-fil-A Foundation executive director Rodney Bullard offered justification for the chain’s charitable arm’s continued financial support of anti-LGBTQ groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“The calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be. For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged. This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever present in the lives of many children who can’t help themselves. Regardless of where you may find yourself on any particular issue, this is our collective problem and that we all can be a part of the solution. … We all should join together and be a part of the solution.”
That position stands in stark contrast to the chain’s owners statement, in which Chick-fil-A denies that it supports discrimination against the LGBTQ community, saying it was focused on its food and did not have a political or social agenda.
The FCA requires leaders, including student leaders, to agree to a “sexual purity policy” that forbids them from participating in “heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act.” It further defines such acts as not “[constituting] an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.”
As contributor Brian C. Bell wrote, Bullard’s defense comes after analysis of the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s 2017 tax returns revealed donations to the FCA totaling $1,653,416. According to Bullard, those funds go toward youth summer sports camps co-hosted by the foundation and the FCA that aim to help inner-city Atlanta youth without targeting a specific religious group.
But the continued association with an organization that is rooted in a specific religious belief to the point that it literally has Christian in its name undercuts that inclusive mission.
Especially considering there are large youth sports organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, that promote LGBTQ inclusion while servicing the same inner-city communities. There are even specfic LGBTQ youth sports initiatives, like You Can Play and LGBT SportSafe, that aim to cultivate inclusion and equality through all levels of sport.
Loser: Dutee Chand’s Sister
We wouldn’t typically castigate someone’s relative for being unable to accept anyone for living their truth. But it stunned us to learn that when Dutee Chand, already known as India’s fastest woman and as someone who fought and won the right to compete despite high testosterone levels, came out as India’s first openly gay athlete, she said her sister disapproved to the point of wanting her arrested and jailed.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate,” she told The Sunday Express. Chand, 23, is the first Indian sports star to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship.
India does not recognize same-sex marriage but symbolic civil unions are not prohibited by law.
Unfortunately, the BBC reported that Chand’s sister has threatened to not only expel her from the family but to have her imprisoned.
”My eldest sister feels that my partner is interested in my property. She has told me that she will send me to jail for having this relationship,” Chand told PTI news agency. Again, while marriage is outlawed, being gay or being in a same-sex relationship is legal in India.
Winners: The First 5 Yankees-Stonewall Scholars
Five New York City high school seniors who are active in their communities are the recipients of the first Yankees-Stonewall scholarships of $10,000 each.
The winners for 2019 are Alex Rosado from Manhattan, Francheska Colón from the Bronx, Ashley Farrell from Staten Island, Hugh Goldstein from Queens and a student from Brooklyn who wishes to remain anonymous because they are not out.
NBC News reported that all of the students are community leaders, and that most of them lead the Gay-Straight Alliance group at their high schools.
Rosado is transgender and started the GSA at The Clinton School in Chelsea as a freshman. NBC reported he writes about LGBTQ issues for the school’s newspaper and will be attending Sarah Lawrence College in the fall. Rosado’s goal is to write and publish his first novel by the time he graduates.
“Even with all the scholarships that I got from the college and the need-based aid, I was still short 10 grand for each year,” Rosado told NBC News. “I was really surprised that after all the work I did in high school, I didn’t even get enough scholarships to cover the basic cost of tuition, so because of this [Yankees-Stonewall] scholarship, I’m going to be able to go to this very expensive college.”
Winners: Women Hockey Players
The union for U.S. women hockey players reportedly ended their standoff with the National Women’s Hockey League Thursday, with a “breakthrough” agreement guaranteeing higher salaries, improved benefits and for the first time in women’s hockey, a 50-50 split of revenues related to game sponsors.
But according to the Associated Press, the deal is for one year only. The five-team NWHL has the option to renew the contract in 2020, but it is under no obligation to do so.
The players association, which announced the agreement Thursday, did not release any specific monetary figures.
However, the head of the union, out and retired Connecticut Whale player Anya Battaglino, tweeted that players would see a 50% increase in their salary, 60% increase in the minimum wage, a 25% increase to per diem pay and 33% more games.
Winner: Ken Macharia
The gay 39-year-old Kenyan-born rugby player who has been living in the U.K. since 2009 has been temporarily allowed to stay there. As Daniel Villarreal reported, the news comes six months after the British government threatened to deport Macharia to his home country, where he could have faced 14 years imprisonment for being gay.
Despite his release and the Home Office’s recent cancellation of his deportation notice, Macharia remains in a legal limbo, at risk of being deported back to Kenya at any time.
Winner: Actor John Barrowman
British actor John Barrowman, who American TV fans may know best from playing Captain Jack Harkness on “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood,” and The Dark Archer Malcolm Merlyn in “Arrow,” had some keen insight into LGBTQ sports this week.
Barrowman discussed a recent exchange with fellow “Celebrity” castmate and British football manager Harry Redknapp:
“I had this conversation with Harry who apparently had never met a gay man before he met me in the jungle, which I find hard to believe as I know there are gay footballers out there.
“If people are fearful of coming out because of their job, they’re stupid. Because there are so many ways and people around to protect them now… Think of how many lives you will save… if you come out and be your true self and show that you can be successful and can live your life and not worry about stereotype, you are going to help maybe that one kid who is struggling and possibly on the verge of doing something drastic in their life because they feel they are shut down and can’t be who they are.”
As contributor Ken Schultz wrote, Barrowman’s comments highlight the dilemma that gay athletes in professional athletics face in every country. Simply put, many teams in major league sports give positions of power to figures like Harry Redknapp, who labor under the impression that no one in their league is gay — a statistic probability so minute that it can only be described in terms like “Baltimore Orioles winning percentage.”
Winners: Dale Scott and Taylor Vanderlaan
Being Out is a new feature that looks at LGBTQ people in sports who have come out since Outsports first published in 1999. This week Jim Buzinski featured two guys who are living their truth.
In his 30 years as a Major League Baseball umpire, Dale Scott worked all the big events, from All-Star games to playoff series to World Series games.
Like most umpires, Scott would have preferred to remain unknown since that meant he wasn’t involved in any on-field controversy. But one interview with Outsports in 2014, where he came out publicly as gay, made him an accidental activist.
Since coming out to the world, Scott has received hundreds of emails from people telling him that his story encouraged them to follow their own truth. It made him realize the power of visibility. “It is a freeing feeling and I didn’t necessarily anticipate that because I didn’t feel I was that stuffed into the closet,” said Scott a few months after his story was told.
ForTaylor Vanderlaan, it was love at first site when he first was drawn to rugby in college and it was his acceptance that made him comfortable as a gay man.
Now graduated, he still plays the sport but is now focused on advocacy for LGBTQ issues in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond.
Jim found it interesting that he wants to shine a life on the issue of sexual assault in the LGBTQ world, mirroring the #MeToo movement. Vandelaan is also soon-to-be-married to another gay athlete, Brenden Moon, which understandably has him excited.
That’s all for this week! We’ll bring you a fresh list of winners and losers next Saturday. Got a name we missed, or want to challenge our choices? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram,tweet at us, message us via any social media, or just plain email us at [email protected] Thanks!