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Ugandan athlete receives refugee status in Canada

Trans man told he’d be killed if he returned to native Uganda



Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade, Adebayo Kaiiti

Adebayo Katiiti, front row, right, with teammates and friends at the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Edmonton in August, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Over the past year, the Washington Blade has followed the story of five LGBT Ugandan swimmers who were chasing the dream of representing their country at the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Edmonton last August.

During the many new conferences and panels that the swimmers attended after arriving in Edmonton, it became clear that despite the challenges they faced at home in the Ugandan LGBT community, they were focused on raising awareness and creating change in their country. They would take their new life experiences back with them and continue to fight the persecution that is rampant in Uganda.

However, when it was time for the Uganda Kuchus Aquatic Team to return to Uganda after a week of competition, only four swimmers showed up at the airport.

Just a few days before the group left to fly to Edmonton, two of the swimmers had been sitting in a jail cell in Uganda after being arrested at a Pride event. Adebayo Katiiti was one of those swimmers and after he arrived in Edmonton, the threatening messages from family members began to arrive from home.

Katiiti, who is a trans man, was told that if he returned to Uganda, he would be killed. It wasn’t until the morning of his flight that he decided to stay in Canada and request asylum.

After receiving support and assistance from multiple churches and the LGBT community of Edmonton, Katiiti received refugee status last November. His work permit has also been secured and he will begin the process of obtaining permanent residency which will take up to 18 months.

A lifelong athlete, Katiiti has immersed himself in the Edmonton sports community while the process is ongoing. He is playing in a women’s rec soccer league and is the top scorer on the team. He is also still training in the swimming pool and has tried his hand at two new sports, handball and floor hockey.

“I haven’t found work yet though I am trying to find something sports related,” Katiiti says. “I was working with a sports association before and I would like to do the same here, especially with LGBT-friendly people.”

In the meantime, he is receiving a stipend from the Alberta government which is enough to cover his rent and bus pass with the remaining help coming from St Paul’s United Church and the LGBT community.

“I am still looking for my path,” Katiiti says. “I eventually will need to go back to school to make myself more employable.”

Finding that path in a new country will be difficult, but Katiiti has remained positive. He is dating and has just started attending meetings with a trans support group. He is also playing co-ed soccer with the Edmonton Sport & Social Club where he sometimes gets to play as a male.

Though the LGBT community, St Paul’s United Church and the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers have been champions in his journey thus far, he has not received the same support from other locals. A recent story that appeared on Global News was filled with negative rhetoric in the comments section.

“I hear things like, ‘You are not supposed to be here,’” Katiiti says. “Go back to your own country.”

He is not deterred by those comments though as Canada has offered him an opportunity to be free and start a new life. He has dreams like anyone else and one day hopes to be able to create an organization to help refugees in Edmonton as well as to offer hope to the LGBT community in Uganda.

As for that long Canadian winter, he is still adjusting and making the best of it.

“I had never seen snow before and there is so much of it here,” Katiiti says, laughing. “At 22 years old, I have made my first snowman and it won’t be my last.”

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A Revolution for Women in Baseball

Last week, they announced that Rachel Balkovec will become the first woman to manage a team in minor league baseball.



Rachel Balkovec was hired as a hitting coach in the Yankees’ system in 2019. She will now manage the Class A Tampa Tarpons.Credit. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Balkovec/Instagram.

The Yankees were late on introducing an African-American player to their roster, adding Hall of Famer Elston Howard to the team in 1955, eight years after Jackie Robinson starred for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Yankees seem determined not to repeat that bad history.  Last week, they announced that Rachel Balkovec will become the first woman to manage a team in minor league baseball when she takes the helm of the Tampa Tarpons this spring. 

It has been just over ten years since Justin Siegal threw batting practice to the Cleveland Guardians and five since she was the first woman to coach a MLB squad with the Oakland Athletics.  Two years ago, Kim Ng became the first female General Manager of any of the four major professional sports when the Marlins hired her to run their team.  In the two years since then, the dam has burst.  Women have been hired to important on-field positions with professional baseball at an impressive clip.  As baseball has lagged behind other professional sports in bringing women into the game, the current pace of hires indicates that baseball’s embrace of analytics and objective measures have finally penetrated the walls of one of the most enduring old boys clubs in the U.S. and given talented women opportunities they have long been denied.

Ten women will be coaching with major or minor league teams in 2022.  In 2021, Bianca Smith became the first African-American woman to coach in the minors when the Red Sox hired her. Alyssa Nakken became the first woman in uniform during a Major League Baseball game when she coached first base for the Giants in a July 2020 exhibition against the Oakland A’s.  Her jersey now belongs to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Cuban-American Veronica Alvarez is not only the coach of the U.S. Women’s National Baseball team, she also served as a spring training coach for the Oakland A’s.

The proliferation of women in baseball is not an accident.  More girls than ever are playing baseball.  Here, in the DC area, 160 girls participated with D.C. Girls Baseball in 2021.  Baseball for All, an organization that supports and promotes girls in baseball, held a tournament last summer that drew nearly 600 girls who play baseball.  There are more women than ever on collegiate baseball rosters.  Major League Baseball has also devoted significant resources to girls and women in baseball, running several development camps for girls in baseball.  Six of the women now coaching professional baseball participated in MLB’s Take the Field initiative, which is designed to help place women into baseball positions. To top it all off, the classic film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, A League of Their Own, is getting a reboot on Amazon Prime this year.

The pace of hiring is exhilarating.  Unfortunately, every report of a woman being hired is followed by predictable hateful commentary on social media.  Many cannot imagine that a woman may be hired for a baseball position on merit and resort to making sexist and derogatory comments.  As women in baseball, the coaches are used to that vitriol and have developed thick skin and sophisticated defense mechanisms.  However, also reading are thousands of girls who are inspired by the achievements of these women and they are, sadly, learning that to achieve in baseball means enduring the sexist taunts, gross come-ons, and hurtful comments.

Baseball has a long way to go.  Other leagues have women officiating games, so it should be reasonable to expect that baseball will have women umpires in the near future.  The possibility of women playing professional baseball is tantalizingly close as 17 year old Genevieve Beacom made history last week as the first women to play Australian professional baseball, when she threw a scoreless inning against the Adelaide Giants.

We are watching a revolution in baseball unfold before our eyes. 

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Gus Kenworthy skis for Great Britain at 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The freestyle skiing Olympic medalist continues to advocate for sport to become a more accepting place for openly gay athletes



Gus Kenworthy (Screenshot courtesy Beijing Olympic Winter Games/IOC)

Out British-American freestyle skier, actor, and YouTuber Gus Kenworthy, will be competing in his third Olympic Winter Games, but his first for Team GB next month for the 2022 Beijing Games. In 2014 and 2018 Kenworthy represented the USA where during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia he became an Olympic Silver Medalist.

In an interview recorded in December, Kenworthy stressed his personal mantra of ‘Let people be themselves.’ The freestyle skiing Olympic medalist continues to advocate for sport to become a more accepting place for openly gay athletes.

Having recently won bronze in slopestyle for Team USA at PyeongChang 2018, Kenworthy is aiming for another podium place at his “third and final Games”, where he’s focusing on halfpipe at Beijing 2022, representing Great Britain. Kenworthy said with quiet determination that this year’s Winter Games will be his last as an Olympic competitor.

Kenworthy joins a “record number” of openly LGBTQ+ athletes heading to the Beijing games, Outsports reported. The 2018 Winter Olympics featured 15 out queer athletes, and Outsports noted that the Beijing games will see more openly LGBTQ+ athletes than previously Winter Games.

PinkNewsUK notes that there was a question as to whether Kenworthy would be able to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which kick off in February.

Just weeks ago, Kenworthy shared in an Instagram post that he recently got a “bad concussion” while at a training camp in Switzerland.

He explained that he’s had a “few serious” traumatic brain injuries in the past so the “seriousness of each added concussion has been stressed to me”.


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Out professional soccer player calls out ‘homophobic abuse’ from crowd

The Adelaide United player said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at being the target of anti-gay insults from the crowd



Photo courtesy of Josh Cavallo Instagram

Professional soccer player Josh Cavallo, who became the only openly gay top-flight male professional footballer last year, told his Instagram followers over the weekend that he experienced “homophobic abuse” during his last game. 

The Adelaide United player said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at being the target of anti-gay insults from the crowd at AAMI Park during his team’s Saturday game against the Melbourne Victory.

“As a society it shows we still face these problems in 2022,” he wrote. “This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable. Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.”

Cavallo added that he was also targeted after the game online. 

“To @instagram I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received,” he said. “I knew truely being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) said it was “shocked and saddened” to hear Cavallo’s reports of “homophobic bullying,” according to the Guardian

“Our players, staff and fans have the right to feel safe on and off the pitch,” APL CEO Danny Townsend said. “There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behaviour.”

The APL is working with both teams to investigate the incident, adding that sanctions will be issued to anyone involved. 

In a statement, Adelaide United Chief Executive Officer Nathan Kosmina said that the team was “appalled” at the “verbal abuse” that Cavallo received. 

“Adelaide United is proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club, and to see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting,” he said. “Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our Club.”

The Melbourne Victory added that it “sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background. Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches.”

At the end of his Instagram message, Cavallo thanked those sending him positive messages, love and support. 

“Love will always win,” he said. 

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