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BLADE 50: paper helped forming D.C. gay sports leagues

D.C. Frontrunners, Federal Triangles et. al. used Blade to get word out

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lgbt sports leagues, DC Frontrunners, gay news, Washington Blade
The D.C. Frontrunners at an AIDS Benefit Run/Walk on Dec. 1, 1984. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

The LGBT sports movement moved into full swing 10 years ago and the Washington Blade capitalized on the changing environment by expanding its scope and establishing a dedicated sports column to report on the D.C. athletes involved in the movement.

Since that time, the Blade has showcased hundreds of local LGBT athletes who are thriving in sports community as out athletes. 

In 2013, the Blade introduced an annual sports issue which shines a light on local, national and international LGBT athletes who are breaking down stereotypes through their involvement in sports.

In the decades leading up to the LGBT sports movement, visibility wasn’t always welcomed by LGBT athletes who were mostly living in the shadows. Fear of rejection and bullying, and even fear of being kicked out of their sport, led many athletes to remain in the closet.

As the pioneers of the Washington D.C. LGBT sports community began forming clubs, there was one source that allowed athletes to share their message in hopes of finding other athletes who wanted to play sports. That source felt like a safe space which in turn would lead to the safe spaces that are now common in our local LGBT sports community.

Many of the first LGBT teams that were formed in D.C., such as the D.C. Front Runners, the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, the Washington Wetskins and the District of Columbia Aquatics Club, were producing their own newsletters and mailing them out in unmarked envelopes to protect the identities of their athletes.

Once their fears began to subside, they turned to the Washington Blade to reach a wider audience. The Blade began adding sports announcements in its Calendar section and started sharing stories in the Close Up section.

In the August 7, 1981 issue of the Washington Blade, the following ad appeared announcing the presence of gay runners:

All Gay runners interested in starting up a running club are invited to attend an organizational meeting to be held at the Gay Community Center, 1469 Church Street, N.W., August 13 at 7.

A small ad hoc steering committee has already begun considering items for the meeting agenda, including the choice of a name, the formal club structure, the possibility of organizing a seasonal race, and the options available for affiliating with local and national Gay and non-gay running organizations.

The group will also discuss the 4.4 mile fun run scheduled for 9 a.m., August 15 on the towpath along the canal, starting underneath Key Bridge.

The announcement would mark the birth of the D.C. Front Runners who are still meeting at 7 pm on Thursdays for weekly fun runs.

“As a practical matter, the Blade provided the Front Runners an opportunity to communicate to the broader community. Many of our core group of runners came from our announcements in the Blade,” says Tony Anderson, a longtime Front Runner and former club coordinator. “I remember a straight friend saying, ‘This isn’t fair, you have a news outlet that can communicate to your entire community in an effective way,’”

The same holds true for the first members of the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, who started with pickup games on the National Mall.

“The Blade was our form of communication to everybody for our pickup games in 1990,” says Jim Ensor of the Federal Triangles. “We had a lot of players get involved with the team through the Blade and many are still active with us.”

In July, 1985, a group of swimmers placed an ad in the Blade looking for water polo players. They had no idea how to play, but they wanted to be a part of something outside the bar scene.

“Everyone read the Blade because it was the only way to communicate,” says Jack Markey, a co-founder of the Washington Wetskins and the District of Columbia Aquatics Club. “It made people aware of the resources in the community — everything was in the Blade.”

Fast-forward to 2019 and Washington D.C., led by information clearinghouse Team D.C., is one of the largest LGBT sports communities in the world with more than 40 LGBT sports clubs.

Earlier this year, Europe-based sportsmedialgbt.com pointed to the Washington Blade as a leading news source on sports news and content with an LGBT emphasis.

The Blade will continue to spotlight the journeys of LGBT athletes through themed storytelling such as the Rookies & Vets series and the All Star series. This fall, a new series titled Game Changers will be introduced.

The LGBT athletes who once lived in the shadows have stepped into the light. Sharing stories sparks connections and the Blade is the connection that has endured for 50 years.

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Sports

Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team

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Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels

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Tom Daley (Photo by sportsphotographer.eu via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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