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Local athletes: why I joined an LGBT sports team

Filling a void fostered by bullying, harassment in schools



Brandon Waggoner, D.C. Gay Flag Football League, gay news, Washington Blade, sports, DCGFFL
Brandon Waggoner, D.C. Gay Flag Football League, gay news, Washington Blade, sports, DCGFFL

Brandon Waggoner grew up in West Texas and Tennessee and never played sports growing up but excelled in various LGBT leagues in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Locker room fears, bullying and anti-LGBT bias have prevented many within the LGBT community, especially in high school and college, from even attempting to play sports. In some cases, they have also chosen not to be spectators because of feeling unsafe.

There are likely thousands of LGBT teenagers in America who are not playing sports because they fear the repercussions of joining a community that is historically unwelcoming.


Research studies by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that high school LGBT students avoid locker rooms (39 percent), physical education class (32.5 percent) and the school sports field (22.8 percent) because of feeling unsafe.

LGBT sports advocacy groups have been producing resource guides for everyone involved in the sports community in an attempt to educate. Diversity training is now pretty much inescapable from grade school sports to professional sports.

Most of the athletes competing in the LGBT sports community of Washington, D.C. are post-college age and are experiencing exactly what the national LGBT sports advocacy groups are trying to accomplish: They are competing in a safe space and they are flourishing.

Brandon Waggoner grew up in West Texas and Tennessee. He never played sports growing up but had the desire as he taught himself how to throw a ball when he was a teenager.

“I never joined a team because I was nervous about being in the locker room,” says Waggoner.

In college, through his dorm, he began playing intramural sports as a closeted gay man and was instantly hooked. After arriving in D.C. he was playing on a team with his employer when he heard about a local gay flag football team.

“I had just come out and was unfamiliar with the athletic capabilities of gay people,” says Waggoner.  “I joined the team thinking I was going to be a dominant player. Instead, I was the one who was dominated.”

Besides quarterbacking in the DC Gay Flag Football League, Waggoner has also played on the Washington DC Gay Basketball League. Along with his teammates, he has made it to the playoffs in both leagues.

Alison Samuels went to a small private high school in California and played soccer and field hockey. She was the first openly gay person at her school and despite her efforts to fit in and create a comfortable environment, she was asked by her teammates not to use the locker room.

“That happened in my junior year,” says Samuels.  “I continued to play but the perception became that any female friends I had were likely gay, so I stopped having close female friends and I refused to touch or hug my female friends.”

She tried the club soccer team at Mary Washington University in her freshman year but did not fit in and decided to stop playing sports. She eventually found a safe environment on a club rugby team in her junior year.

After moving to D.C. she saw a Craigslist posting for the Federal Triangles Soccer Club and joined the team. “It is a completely different environment,” says Samuels. “More fun, more relaxed and less stress.”

Samuels is now president of the Federal Triangles Soccer Club.

Brian Sparrow grew up on naval bases including some time spent at Guantanamo Bay. His father taught him the basics of sports but his assignments took him away on ships for up to nine months at a time.

“My mom would sign me up for sports leagues,” says Sparrow. “But I spent most of my time playing sports by myself.”

Sparrow was small for his age so after his family settled in Maryland he continued to play sports in his neighborhood instead of joining team sports. After coming out, he discovered the LGBT sports community in D.C.

“Playing sports has defined me as a gay man,” says Sparrow.  “I really began to flourish when I started joining the LGBT sports leagues.”

Sparrow has played with the Capital Tennis Association, Chesapeake and Potomac Softball, DC Gay Flag Football League, Capital Punishment Volleyball and the Washington, D.C. Gay Basketball League.

These athletes and thousands like them in leagues across the country express a similar appreciation for LGBT-specific programs that allow all athletes to reap the many benefits of playing sports.

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Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team



Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics



Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels



Tom Daley (Photo by via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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