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Young athletes on competing after coming out

Morant, Newman prep for college after winning Team DC scholarships

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Team DC college scholarships, gay news, Washington Blade
Freedom Morant and Jack Newman won Team DC college scholarships. (Photos courtesy the subjects)

Last spring at the Team DC Night of Champions, six openly LGBT local high school student-athletes stepped forward to receive their Team DC college scholarships.

Several of the awardees took to the podium and shared their stories to a rapt audience of adult LGBT athletes. Their stories were filled with acceptance, support and a love of sports. Supporting them from the sidelines that night were the parents of the young athletes.

Freedom Morant grew up in Oxon Hill, Md., and began her athletic career at the age of three in basketball and eventually soccer. A near-drowning experience in Florida at age five led to her mother putting her in swim lessons.

This fall, Morant will leave for Frostburg State University where she has earned a swimming scholarship. The road to getting there included some obstacles, including overcoming a learning disability, but sports were a big part of the journey.

“Sports have helped me to get to where I want to be, and that’s in college,” says Morant. “Playing sports has also been a stress reliever. I like that competing gives me the opportunity to express myself.”

A recent graduate of Friendly High School, Morant was a multi-sport athlete. One year in tennis and basketball, three years in softball and four years in swimming. She was also a manager for the volleyball team.

In addition to high school sports, she was competing in club swimming, first at Elite Rays Swim Club and then at Manta Dive N Aquatics.

“I feel free when I am swimming, like nothing else in life matters,” Morant says. “It’s a comfortable home and I was meant to be in the water.”

Morant was out to her teammates in high school and says she wasn’t really challenged by anyone because there are a lot of out high schoolers in Prince Georges County. Her mom has been there all along, volunteering and cheering at competitions.

“When I came out to her, she said she already knew and was just waiting for me to tell her,” says Morant. “I couldn’t ask for a stronger support system.”

Her mom accompanied her to receive her Team DC scholarship and Morant was excited to meet other out athletes.

“While I had classmates who were out, there weren’t a lot of out athletes,” Morant says. “It was a really comfortable experience at the awards ceremony, and I was grateful to be there.”

This summer, Morant is lifeguarding, teaching swim lessons and training in the pool every day. She plans to study early childhood education at Frostburg, specifically K-3.

“I like working with kids and the idea of educating them in their formative years,” says Morant. “They need a good support system and I want them to be able to achieve their potential.”

At the end of August, Morant will leave for Frostburg where she will live in a dorm with other athletes. Team dynamics will play a factor, but she hopes to specialize in the 100 butterfly, 50 and 100 freestyles and the 200 individual medley.

“I am excited to be able to compete on the collegiate level,” Morant says. “I have looked at the school records and I want to see how far I can take my swimming.”

Jack Newman played on the girls’ soccer team at George C. Marshall High School through his junior year before deciding he wanted to focus on club soccer. A goalkeeper, he tried out for a boy’s travel soccer team and made the cut.

Growing up in Vienna, Va., Newman participated in soccer, basketball and wrestling. He found sports to be a great physical outlet for his energy levels.

Wanting a higher level of competition, Newman began attending summer sports camps at age 10 and was competing in basketball and soccer on girls’ club teams.

He was also on the high school wrestling team, which was separated by weight class rather than gender. He chose not to begin using hormones and instead relied on building muscle through weight training.

“I am cis passing and I didn’t want the acne side effects that can occur with hormones. I don’t feel like I was at a disadvantage in wrestling,” says Newman. “I have intentions of eventually going on testosterone, but I want to do it on my own time.”

He says that living in a progressive area has fostered a respectful transition. His only bad experiences came at the hands of opposing sports teams.

For the past two months, Newman has been playing in the Summer of Freedom League, which is hosted by the LGBT-based Federal Triangles Soccer Club.

“It is a much more comfortable experience to play sports with other like-minded people,” Newman says. “The sense of community is much stronger in LGBT sports.

Newman was also accompanied by his parents at the Team DC scholarship reception and says they have given him unconditional love and support.

“I liked hearing the stories of the other athletes that spoke at the awards reception and it was great having family there,” says Newman. “My dad is gay. In his own conversation where he came out to his brothers and my grandma, my grandma also came out. Home is a very welcoming environment.”

The same welcoming environment will be waiting for him when he begins attending Virginia Commonwealth University. At freshman orientation, in addition to being asked his name, he was also asked his pronoun and gender identity.

“The school is progressive, and it feels very inclusive there,” Newman says. “There was even an LGBTQ+ mixer during orientation.”

His experience at VCU will begin with a week-long Ram Camp leadership training where he will acclimate to the campus climate. Newman, who also won a SMYAL Youth Leadership scholarship, will be bringing his own experiences in from working as a SMYAL Peer Health Fellow this summer and serving as a youth ambassador to NOVA Pride.

His assigned housing for the fall semester is an apartment suite with other trans men and he expects to major in women and gender sexuality studies. He is also interested in producing circuit parties and will return to D.C. in October to stage crew people at the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant.

“I will be continuing my sports career at VCU by joining an intramural soccer team and checking out Stonewall Kickball Richmond,” says Newman. “I am looking forward to what the future holds.”

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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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