This week’s look at LGBTQ sports winners and losers

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.

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 the week’s winners and losers.

Winners: The District of Columbia Aquatics Club

A swimming club from Washington, D.C. cleaned up at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics world championship meet in New York City in late June, reported the Washington Blade and Swim Swam. The District of Columbia Aquatics Club joined some 900 aquatic athletes — more than half of them swimmers — competing in Queens, while World Pride celebrations tied to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots were underway in Manhattan. The masters swimmers of DCAC, formed in 1988 by members of the Washington Wetskins, broke 17 IGLA world records and won 137 medals: 82 gold, 28 silver and 27 bronze.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France — which last summer fined Russia $2 billion for two decades of human rights abuses — has ordered Vladimir Putin’s government to cough up another $41K to three nonprofit LGBTQ groups. One of those groups is Sochi Pride House, an arm of Pride House International, whose aim was to provide a welcoming place for LGBTQ athletes and fans attending the 2014 Olympic Games, and to combat homophobia in sports. The human rights court also ordered the Russian government to pay damages to the Rainbow House and the Movement for Marriage Equality for banning it from registering. In its ruling, the ECHR found Russia’s rejection of the groups violated the applicants’ right to freedom of association. The sole basis of Russia’s rejection was that the groups promoted LGBTQ rights, the court ruled, effectively discriminating against them based on their sexual orientation.

Winner: Sonny Kiss

Out gay pro wrestler Sonny Kiss made an impactful singles debut in Jacksonville, Fla. The Concrete Rose stole the show as soon as he came through the tunnel of the Daily’s Place Amphitheater. Flanked by the Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders, the Roar of the Jaguars, Kiss showcased his dance background in a routine full of confidence and shade.The crowd ate up the statement entrance as Kiss, clad in a decoratively-cut Jalen Ramsey jersey, entered the largest stage of his career. He went on to easily dispatch Avalon using his unique mix of acrobatics and twerking. The entrance and match received a lot of love online over the following days, flooding Kiss’ Twitter feed with love and adoration. Kiss has clearly been accepted by the AEW audience and continues to broaden it by provided much needed representation. His ability to remain strong in the face of hate is the only thing that rivals his ability in the ring.

Loser: FIFA

FIFA, the world organization that governs international soccer matches, recently launched a new simplified “disciplinary code” that highlights referees’ ability to end matches if fans utter homophobic or racist chants. The newly highlighted ability has existed since May 2017, leaving us to wonder how many referees will actually use it, what FIFA will do if they don’t and whether other stakeholders — like local governments, broadcasters, viewers and sponsors — will take action to end the hateful chants once and for all. The new code — which officially went into effect Monday, July 15, 2019 — states, “A match is automatically forfeited if the referee decides to suspend it after having applied the three-step procedure.” The three-step procedure is as follows: “Referees would first stop the match and request a public announcement to insist that the discriminatory behavior cease. If this has no effect, he or she can then suspend play again and, if the racist, behavior persists, abandon the match.” The new code further explains that if a football team’s spectators use homophobic chants, then the club can be fined at least $20,312 for a first offense. FIFA has mostly used this tactic to no great effect as the fines represent a tiny fraction of each team’s massive overall revenue.

Winner: First same-sex couple to play doubles at Wimbledon

After a whirlwind Wimbledon fortnight that spotlighted the doubles matches this year, when former world no. 1s Serena Williams and Andy Murray teamed up, one Belgian duo also stood out from the crowd. Alison van Uytvanck, who came out last March, made history this year with her girlfriend and tennis partner Greet Minnen as the first same-sex couple to play doubles at Wimbledon together. Van Uytvanck and Minnen defeated Katie Swann and Freya Christie in their first match before losing in the second round to Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan. In an interview with The Guardian after their winning Wimbledon debut, Van Uytvanck also spoke out on behalf of closeted gay men in tennis, saying: “We [would like to] see more people coming forward and saying ‘It’s OK.’ I think people would have more confidence. That would be something good, men would appreciate that. More people would come out – it would help to make it easier.”

Losers: Everyone pining for figure skaters Eric Radford and Luis Fenero


Victor Lax, courtesy of Eric Radford

Sorry, fellas! They’re taken. Eric Radford and Luis Fenero got married last week in northern Spain, near where Fenero was born. The two figure skaters got engaged just over two years ago when Radford proposed on one knee not far from where the two men would eventually marry. The wedding, not surprisingly, included big names in figure skating. Radford’s best men featured Olympians Dylan Moscovitch and Patrick Chan. Last year Radford lit up the ice in South Korea, winning two medals — one gold, one bronze — at the 2018 Winter Olympics with skating partner Meagan Duhamel, who was also at the wedding. Fenero is a former national champion in Spain with ice dancing partner Celia Robledo. Not only is Spain Fenero’s birthplace and the country he represented competitively on the ice, but it was also one of the first countries to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2005. According to Instagram, the two are now in Greece celebrating with friends.

Winner: Tom Daley and all the athletes headed to Tokyo in 2020

Less than three years after a performance at the Rio de Janeiro games filled with epic highs and lows, Tom Daley is officially returning to the Olympics in 2020. And he’s hoping to resolve some unfinished business. This past Monday, Daley and partner Matty Lee won a bronze medal at the 2019 FINA Diving World Championships in Gwanju, South Korea in the Men’s 10 meter synchro competition. In doing so, they automatically qualified for a spot in next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Qualifying for the Olympics capped a momentous few months for Daley, who took home three bronze medals at the Diving World Series in Russia, won the gold in London, and waded into activist waters on behalf of trans athletes with husband Dustin Lance Black.

Winner: Ashlyn Harris

World Cup champion and out lesbian Ashlyn Harris is spilling more tea, and it’s spilling all over former USWNT teammate and top defender Jaelene Hinkle. Harris blasted Hinkle on Twitter Monday, accusing her of homophobia, insulting Christian teammates with her religious views and of “intolerance” that pundits have in turn claimed was proof that the Women’s National Team was “not a very welcoming place for Christians.” Harris’s tweet said: “Hinkle, our team is about inclusion. Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together. You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for.” She was responding to a tweet by noted Catholic anti-abortion and anti-gay advocate Obianuju Ekeocha of Nigeria, who dusted off Hinkle’s June 2018 interview with CBN to again accuse U.S. Soccer of leaving her off the squad because of her Christian faith. On Monday, Harris — who is engaged to teammate Ali Krieger — clapped back at Ekeocha and directly refuted Hinkle’s claims in that 2018 interview. “Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians’. You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team. Same [sic] on you.”

“I’m not gay,” declared NBA center Dwight Howard, in a new interview with Fox Sports. The Memphis Grizzlies player once known as “Superman” addressed rumors about his sexuality that have been swirling since last November, and the reaction people had to those rumors, which he said gave him new perspective on himself, on gay athletes, and others. “I think that liberated me,” Howard told reporter Kristine Leahy. “Because I saw how a lot of people would feel, whether they’re gay or they’re straight. Whether they have issues. People are afraid to be who they are. They’re afraid to just step out and be. Because they’re afraid of what other people might say or think about them. That situation made me realize you’re not like this, but just be you, be free.” That statement led to a request for clarity from Leahy, which Howard provided. “I’m not gay,” said Howard. “It’s a lot of people who are and they have to hide, and there’s people who have mental issues and they have to hide. There’s people who have different problems in life and they have to hide. They have to put on the mask every day, and it’s like, I don’t wanna wear no mask, I just wanna be.” So… is he fluid? Bi? Poly? Gonna be traded? We don’t yet know. Whatever happens, we wish him well.

Winners: This week’s out LGBTQ athletes Avery Saffold and Layne Ingram

Avery Saffold, 21, will be graduating from Amherst College in the spring of 2020. He is a Psychology major and aspires to work in the NBA after he graduates. He also plays defensive back for the Amherst Mammoths Div. III football team.

“In the final years of high school and into college I realized I am much more than that: I am a student, a son, a brother, and I am gay… I would often feel lonely or lost because I didn’t have anyone to confide in. Reading the stories in high school of athletes who are like me on Outsports made me feel empowered that I wasn’t alone. Through those stories, I finally started to accept myself, which was the first step to me sharing myself… This past season we went 8-1 and were runners-up in the conference. As a captain of the team, I recorded 30 tackles, two interceptions and made all-conference first team for the second year in a row. I was re-elected captain for this upcoming year, and look forward to a championship season with my team.”

Being Out is a feature that looks at LGBTQ people in sports who have come out since Outsports first published in 1999. This week we profiled: Basketball coach Layne Ingram, who talked about coming out to former classmates at his 20th high school reunion:

“People that I recognized but didn’t remember told me they read my story and thought it was great. They had conversations with me; told me about their lives and children. You know human stuff. It was AMAZING. I felt fine; accepted, maybe even loved. By the end of the picnic, after the police had come and killed a rabid raccoon, I was on a high and ready for the night.”

Ingram, the head women’s basketball coach at Lansing Community College, is dedicated to using his public platform to educate people about issues facing the trans community. His blog is a great primer for anyone wondering what trans people go through on a daily basi

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 outsports@gmail.com Thanks!


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