Two of the most outspoken professional athletes when it comes to the issue of gay rights are being honored by the original family and straight ally organization. On Wednesday PFLAG National, the nation’s largest grassroots-based non-proffit for families, friends, and straight allies of LGBT people, announced in a press release that NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings will be two of the honorees honored at the fifth annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala.
The work of both Ayanbadejo and Kluwe has been recognized nationally and both continue to make their voices known when it comes to gay equality. Both stand out even more because they are involved in a sport that has yet to see an active openly gay player. Jody M. Huckaby, National Executive Director of PFLAG, commended the player’s passion in moving equality forward for the LGBT community.
“To have not one but two NFL players speaking out in such an impassioned way – not to mention using the Super Bowl as a platform to move this conversation forward – is a major milestone in major league sports in this country.”
The issue of gay rights in sports became a major issue in this year’s Super Bowl as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver created controversy by saying gay players wouldn’t be allowed nor accepted in the locker room. Culliver later apologized for the comment but the issue that raised awareness and exposure during a national event like the Super Bowl.
Ayanbadejo was very outspoken towards Culliver’s comment and saw it as a learning experience for the player and the league. He told ESPN:
“If people hear you say those things, regardless of whether you mean them or not, they’re going to fry you for it in a public arena. Culliver apologized, and hopefully he’ll learn. I guarantee that his comments will be a positive thing, because it sheds so much light on him and on guys who think like him. Because a lot of guys do think like him.”
This continuance to stand up and aim for difference is what makes both Ayanbadejo and Kluwe worthy recipients of an award presented to individuals who are transforming the way that LGBT people are understood and treated. Both players have used their platform as professional athletes to empower and educate other.
Kluwe says he is honored to be achieving the award but just wants everyone to be treated as an individual:
"I’m greatly honored to be accepting the Straight for Equality in Sports Award. But as the same time the feeling is bittersweet, because all I did is what anyone else would do – the right thing. Hopefully one day we will no longer need to have award ceremonies for acting like a human being, because treating each other with empathy and respect will be the accepted norm.”
The Straight for Equality Awards Gala will be held on Thursday, April 4th in New York City.
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