Much has changed in the 12 short months since the Blade’s inaugural sports issue last August. Jason Collins made the playoffs for the NBA’s Nets as an openly gay man. Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend on national TV after being selected by the Rams in the NFL draft.
In addition to those high-profile pro cases, change is happening at the collegiate level, with Arizona State University’s Chip Sarafin coming out — the first active Division I college football player to do so. Meanwhile, at beleaguered Penn State University, a woman was recently named athletic director. This may seem like a small thing to outsiders, but as an alumnus who wrote extensively about women’s basketball coach Rene Portland’s anti-lesbian reign of terror in the ‘80s, it’s a stunner. And a sign that the good old boys club of Penn State sports is finally a thing of the past.
One of the women who stood up to Portland and bravely fought for LGBT visibility in sports for decades is Sue Rankin. I’m proud to call her a friend. She and other pioneering women in sports are profiled in this special issue of the Blade, which was edited by our special guest, Megan Rapinoe, an out lesbian who won gold in the 2012 Olympics in women’s soccer.
Many thanks to Megan and the folks at Athlete Ally for their help in putting together this issue, and especially to Laura Clise. There’s a lot to chew on. Collins continues to win fans thanks to his down-to-Earth accessibility and friendliness. He’s probably taken more selfies with fans than any player in the game this year and he endures all those fan intrusions with a perma-smile. We catch up with Collins in this issue to see how life has changed since coming out.
Chris Kluwe, who bravely endorsed marriage equality while playing for the Minnesota Vikings, lost his job shortly after doing so. He writes in this issue about moving on with his life even as negotiations continue with the Vikings over a settlement to his claims of unfair treatment. Kluwe’s activism continues; he served as grand marshal of D.C.’s Capital Pride parade in June and stopped by the Blade’s after-party to mingle with locals.
We also catch up with Billy Bean, who took a new role with Major League Baseball just before the league named a new gay-friendly commissioner last week. With Bean’s help and visibility, we just might be writing about baseball’s first out gay player in next year’s sports issue. Enjoy it.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.