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Ally and baseball pro Sean Doolittle wears Pride on his cleats

SMYAL, Trevor Project recipients of straight couple’s activism

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Sean Doolittle, gay news, Washington Blade
Sean Doolittle is passionate about LGBTQ rights. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

When Washington Nationals ace relief pitcher Sean Doolittle travels to away games, he uses his free time to hunt down local, independently owned bookstores. He posts his findings on his Twitter feed to help raise awareness for the oftentimes struggling bookstores.

Small bookstores are one of the many causes locally and nationally that Doolittle has taken under his wing. In mid-May, he sat down with his wife Eireann Dolan and turned his attention to another cause they both advocate for – LGBTQ rights. 

With Pride season approaching, Doolittle and Dolan put their heads together to come up with an idea that would be a monthlong celebration.

“Pride Nights at Major League Baseball stadiums are awesome, but I wanted to take things up a notch,” Doolittle says. “We thought about it and I decided I wanted to do something different and visual, something with my spikes.”

The couple found an art supply store while in Cincinnati, checked the paint markers to match the thought process and returned to the hotel where Doolittle sketched out ideas. His adidas game cleats would soon become a canvas to reflect his support. 

On June 1 at Pride Community Night at the Cincinnati Red’s Great American Ballpark, Doolittle debuted his red adidas cleats that he had hand-painted with the trans flag on his right shoe and the rainbow flag on his left shoe.

“The way my spikes are designed, they have the three adidas stripes on each shoe,” Doolittle says. “I sketched out a couple designs before I started painting to orient the colors on the shoes.”

Doolittle took to Twitter to show his support. He has dubbed himself Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle under the account name, @whatwouldDOOdo:

Happy #Pride to my LGBTQ friends and family — we love you, support you and we’re grateful for you. I’m proud to celebrate and stand with you because everyone deserves to feel safe and free to be who they are and to love who they love. Love is love.

On June 4 at Night OUT at the Nationals at Nationals Park, Doolittle was once again in his painted cleats and this time he was sporting a Nationals-branded rainbow shirt under his Nats uniform. He was also a part of the pregame activities honoring LGBT people including former Congressman Barney Frank.

“The paint has been chipping as I wear them, so I have been touching them up. It’s been a labor of love,” Doolittle says. “I have received compliments on them from my Nats teammates and they have asked about the trans flag. It’s a small thing, but representation matters.”

The gesture continues efforts that Doolittle and Dolan started in 2015. 

They received national attention that year when they purchased hundreds of tickets to the Oakland Athletics Pride Night after the event received backlash from fans. The tickets were donated to local LGBTQ groups and an additional $40,000 was raised.

Doolittle was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Washington Nationals in July, 2017. He eloped with Dolan one day after the regular baseball season ended that year.

Local LGBTQ youth leadership and housing program SMYAL caught the attention of Doolittle and Dolan and they have made multiple onsite visits to the SMYAL youth program’s headquarters and the SMYAL transitional housing program. 

Dolan, who has two moms, became a SMYAL board member in 2018 and two-time Major League Baseball All-Star Doolittle, was the cover story of last year’s Washington Blade Sports Issue.

Doolittle will be at one more Major League Baseball Pride Night on June 29 for Pride in the Park against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. At both the Pride Community Night in Cincinnati and at Night OUT in Washington D.C. against the Chicago White Sox, the Nationals picked up wins and Doolittle stepped in for the save.

In both games he also managed to obtain a game ball, and both balls have been authenticated with a hologram sticker by Major League Baseball. The plan is the same for the Miami game.

The baseballs and the cleats will then be auctioned off to benefit SMYAL. 

“I know all the conversations about rainbow capitalism, you know it’s out there. I want to use my platform to promote inclusivity and acceptance and drive some traffic for SMYAL,” Doolittle says. “What adidas did recently was an example of when giving back comes full circle. And that’s really cool.”

While adidas does sell a Pride line of clothing called Love Unites, to celebrate Pride this year, the company donated $250,000 to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.

“Baseball and sports can be a vehicle that creates change. There are people who don’t feel welcome in sports and we want them to feel welcome,” Doolittle says. “There are people on the inside (of sports) that love them and support them. At the end of the day, it is what I stand for and what I believe in.”

Last Saturday was “Star Wars” Day at Nationals Park and the first 10,000 fans received a limited-edition Obi-Sean Kenobi bobblehead. Doolittle is a “Star Wars” fanatic and the bobblehead is an incredible likeness of him in a Jedi robe with a blue light saber. He calls the theme day “one of my favorite days of the year.” 

Doolittle’s passion for inclusivity and acceptance has been mostly supported by his fans and he has received only a small amount of backlash. His Twitter post on June 1 about the cleats had some negative comments which have since been deleted.

“We are seeing less of those comments every year,” Doolittle says. “I hope that means we are making a difference.”

Adidas cleats Sean Doolittle decorated for trans and gay rights. (Photo by Sean Doolittle)
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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Politics

Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on Trans swimmers on Twitter

“[…] what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted

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Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers.

“It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes.

The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes.

“We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said;

“Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen

Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school.

“It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

In April the Fox network hired Jenner as on-air contributor role with her first appearance on Hannity.

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Sports

World swimming body FINA votes to ban Trans athletes

Says policy necessary because of ‘biological performance gap’

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FINA's president, Husain Al-Musallam, announcing the new policy Sunday in Budapest (Screenshot/YouTube 10 News First)

The Swimming’s world governing body FINA meeting in the Hungarian capital city voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

Enactment of that requirement effectively eliminates trans women’s eligibility to compete in the women’s category.

Tanner Stages describe the physical changes people undergo during puberty.

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

“Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums, or in championship positions; and in sports and events involving collisions and projectiles, biological female athletes would be at greater risk of injury,” the statement from FINA’s new policy read.

Athlete Ally, which advocates for Trans athletes responded:

“FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is deeply discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 International Olympic Committee framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally.

“This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue,” said Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President. “This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer. We urge the FINA to rethink its policy and ensure inclusion for all athletes — including transgender women – and allow them to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

“To the young athletes who may be disheartened by this policy, know that we know and believe that every young person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that transgender kids, like their friends, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, and teamwork, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers,” Madison added.

Swimming Body FINA Votes To Segregate Trans Athletes | 10 News First:

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