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Mystics’ Dolson embraces straight ally role

Lending support to break down stereotypes

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Stephanie Dolson, gay news, Washington Blade
Stephanie Dolson, gay news, Washington Blade

Stefanie Dolson appeared in a video at UCONN that targeted anti-LGBT bias in women’s sports. (Photo courtesy Mystics Media)

The Washington Blade caught up with Stefanie Dolson who is playing in her second season with the Washington Mystics in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The 6’5” Dolson played center at UConn and the team won back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. She was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft and began playing for the Mystics shortly after graduation.

During her college years, Dolson stepped forward as a straight sports ally, lending public support to help break down stereotypes, stop discrimination in recruiting and create positive role models for all people, not just the LGBT community.

 

Washington Blade: You didn’t have a lot of transition time when you went from college ball to the WNBA. What was the biggest surprise you encountered when you started playing pro ball with the Mystics?

Stefanie Dolson: Probably the physicality. In college, I was definitely the bigger of the girls. You know, stronger. So to come into the league and play with these girls like Kia [Vaughn] and Sylvia Fowles, Erlana Larkins—they’re just big, strong women. It was definitely a shock and it is a lot harder than college was. I’m still transitioning to that part. Sometimes I’m not as strong and as big as them but I’m getting there.

 

Blade: In your second season with the Mystics you are getting a lot more playing time, roughly 10 minutes more per game, and your numbers are looking great. What is keeping you sharp?

Dolson: I would say, coming into this season, I was a little more comfortable with what Coach [Thibault] wanted from me, what he expected from me. So definitely the comfort level and doing extra reps. At the beginning of the season I went in and did more workouts with Coach [Stanley] and did extra lifts. I’ve just been working on my game, making sure I’m never relaxed and complacent with where I am.

 

Blade: While you were an athlete at UConn, you shot a video with three of your teammates for the Break the Silence Campaign to draw attention to the discrimination that exists regarding sexual orientation in women’s sports. Why was it important for you to speak out on this issue?

Dolson: As student-athletes at UCONN, we had a really big platform to get the word out. I think when you have that platform, you don’t have to, but you have an opportunity to get the word out there for whatever cause. In this case it was the LGBT community, and to just raise awareness for the discrimination that there is in the world and in sports for female athletes. So I thought that was important and I was honored that they asked me to be a part of it.

 

Blade: The WNBA seems to be still sorting out its stance on lesbian players. Do you think that their efforts to reach out to the LGBT community over the past year are going to bring about some positive change?

Dolson: Yes. I think any opportunity that you take advantage of to raise awareness for any cause will help out in the future and in this case the WNBA has been doing a great job. Nike and Adidas, in general. Nike doing the “Be True” campaigning. You don’t necessarily have to be gay, straight, bisexual or whatever to support it and be a part of it. So to have everyone in the WNBA to put it out there and raise awareness for it, it will definitely help. I’m sure we’ll continue to do it.

 

Blade: We still get a laugh when we see the pictures of you falling off the podium risers in front of President Obama at the White House with your UConn teammates in 2014. Do you think you will ever live that down and did the dance-off ever happen with the president?

Dolson: No, I will never live it down. I mean, hopefully I will when I’m older and no one will remember it, other than my family and friends. But hey, any publicity is good publicity, right? It was a great opportunity to be there and to meet the president. I had a lot of fun but did not do the dance-off. I was very disappointed. But I hope to have that opportunity with a future president. Obviously it will not be President Obama but hopefully someone else will dance with me.

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Vulgar anti-gay slur halts championship final soccer match

The league has written rules and guidelines that call for the referees on the field to halt game play if fans ignore warnings

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DENVER, CO. – The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, (CONCACAF) league’s final match in the Mile-High City Sunday was halted after fans disrupted the game play by shouting a homophobic chant directed at players on the field.

ESPN reported the pause occurred during the final moments of the second half before the game went to extra time in the U.S. men’s national team’s 3-2 win. Referee John Pitti resumed the match after three minutes as players on both sides pleaded with the crowd to stop using the chant.

The league has written rules and guidelines that call for the referees on the field to halt game play if a warning to the spectators by the announcer over the stadium’s public address has already warned the crowd to cease and desist. Should the crowd not stop, then the referee has the authority to send the players to the locker rooms and can also call for the match to be abandoned.

ESPN also reported that this was the second tournament match to be halted due to anti-gay chants at Empower Field at Mile High. Mexico’s semifinal win over Costa Rica was also briefly paused. That match also saw several fans ejected from the stadium.

Outsports Webzine reported this past Spring that the disgraceful “puto” chant —a vulgar slur for male prostitute — is ubiquitous at Mexican soccer matches, and up until recently, Soccer’s governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA, has been ambivalent towards its eradication. The organization has punished Mexico at least 12 times for the chant since 2015, and yet, it hasn’t disappeared.

In March, FIFA opened an investigation into anti-gay chanting by Mexico supporters during an Olympic qualifier against the Dominican Republic ESPN noted.

WATCH: USA Beats Mexico FULL MATCH [CONCACAF Nations League Final] | from CBS Sports. Game play is halted at the 1 hour thirty seven minute mark on the YouTube video:

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Niners kick-off Pride with NFL’s 1st-ever gender-neutral gear

The team hopes to score another win for its diverse fanbase Thursday with a new retail line that isn’t limited by binary gender styles

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49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF 49ers.com)

SANTA CLARA, CA. – The San Francisco 49ers have announced month-long plans for the organization’s annual celebration of June LGBTQ+ Pride month. Led by 49ers PRIDE, the official fan club of 49ers Faithful who identify as LGBTQ+ and allies, the 2021 celebration will be highlighted by the 2021 49ers PRIDE Collection.

Every fan can feel seen

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF 49ers.com)

The San Francisco 49ers call their new retail line of rainbow-logo’d tops, tees and jackets “genderless.” We think you’ll call them cool- two years after the San Francisco 49ers led the NFL with the first official community for LGBTQ fans and allies, back in May 2019, the team hopes to score another win for its diverse fanbase Thursday with a new retail line that isn’t limited by binary gender styles.

The new array of team-branded and Pride-themed clothing is the league’s first and only “genderless” collection, according to a news release from the Niners. The threads are by Fanatics and the team promises 100% of the proceeds from this collection will benefit the San Francisco LGBT Center, the Oakland LGBT Center and The LGBTQ Youth Space: San Jose.

49ers Pride49ers Pride

“Supporting the LGBTQ+ community in sports is a priority for the 49ers organization because sport has not always been inviting,” the 49ers’ Hannah Gordon told the Los Angeles Blade. Gordon is entering her tenth season with the 49ers and third as chief administrative officer and general counsel.

49ers Pride49ers Pride

“We created 49ers PRIDE to make space for all of our LGBTQ+ fans and allies and it quickly became an incredible community. This year, we designed the first genderless retail line by an NFL team because we don’t want there to be 49ers fan who wants gear but doesn’t feel seen. If you want to support the Niners, we have something for you.”

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF 49ers.com)

There will still be items available that fans who prefer a feminine cut can purchase at the team’s online store, but the 2021 Pride collection is specifically geared toward Niners fans who aren’t interested in reinforcing gender stereotypes when they support their team and fly their Pride colors.

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF 49ers.com)

“With this line, we have pieces that were designed so that however you identify, you can find a fit and any two people can express different styles with the same piece,” said Gordon. “I love seeing how our fans wear these pieces and express their style. Doing it your own way is faithful to the Bay.”

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF 49ers.com)

Click here to view the collection and find out more about 49ers Pride.

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Sports

Pro rugby player comes out

Devin Ibañez played with New England Free Jacks pre-pandemic

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Devin Ibanez, gay news, Washington Blade

Major League Rugby player Devin Ibañez came out as a gay man on his social media platforms on Tuesday. Sharing pictures of embracing and kissing his partner Fergus Wade, the former New England Free Jacks athlete stated, “as of now I am the only openly gay rugby player to earn a contract with an MLR side. I hope that I will meet others like myself playing a high level of rugby and hoping to inspire the next generation of proud LGBTQ rugby players. So I will proudly call myself ‘that gay rugger’ in hopes that one day it won’t sound strange in men’s rugby”

Ibañez shares on his new Instagram account @thatgayrugger, “as 2020 comes to a close I took the time to reflect on my life and what aspects I could control and make positive changes to that would impact my day to day life and happiness.”

He continues, “I want to start 2021 by celebrating the love of my life and my partner @ferguswade who has been with me through the highs and the (very) lows of the last three years.”

Fergus Wade and Devin Ibanez (Photo via Instagram @thatgayrugger)
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