VOTE: 55 Inspiring LGBT Athletes for Pride

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 21 2013 8:45 AM ET


French tennis champ Amélie Mauresmo was ranked number 1 in tennis in 2004 and was a silver medalist in the Olympic games that year in Athens. Her nation rallied behind her after Martina Hingis's infamous joke that Mauresmo was "half a man." Nonetheless, she was the first French woman to win a singles title at Wimbledon since Suzanne Lenglen in 1925, making her a two-time grand slam winner (Wimbledon and Australian Open). "I dreamt of this career, I dreamt of winning a Grand Slam title," she said upon announcing her retirement in 2009. "I lifted trophies in every city in the world and I lived 10 magical and unbelievable years."


Soccer player Anton Hysén, the son of one of Sweden's most legendary soccer players, came out in 2011, making him his country's first soccer pro to come out while still playing. A year later, he said his life has only gotten better since coming out.




German pole vaulter Balian Buschbaum traveled across Europe and around the world competing at the elite level from 1998 to 2003. Buschbaum even competed at the Olympic games in Sydney, placing sixth. In 2007 he announced his retirement from pole vaulting as a woman to undergo transition therapy to become a man.


In her two-decade-long career, Billie Jean King was ranked  number 1 in the world; she won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles. She also won the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against men’s champion Bobby Riggs in 1973. King was forced out of the closet in 1981 when her secretary and onetime partner Marilyn Barnett brought a palimony lawsuit against her. Since her coming out she has settled down with partner Ilana Kloss. Among her accomplishments, she and respected UCLA basketball coach John Wooden were named Sports Illustrated’s 1972 Sportsmen of the Year. King was the first woman to receive the publication’s honor. In 1990 Life magazine named her one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th century. And in 2009 she was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Billy Bean, only the second major league baseball player to come out, played for eight seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres. After the lefty outfielder retired, he penned Going the Other Way: Lessons From a Life in and out of Major League Baseball. Bean still holds the MLB record for four hits by a rookie in his first professional game


Brittney Griner is a three -ime All-American Baylor alum and was the first NCAA basketball player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots in her career. In 2012 she lead her team to a 40-0 record and the women’s NCAA championship while being named the AP Player of the Year, Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and the Best Female Athlete at the ESPY Awards. She was in a conversation to become the first female in the NBA but since decided to make her way to the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury. Since joining the WNBA, she has become just the third woman to successfully dunk a basketball during a game. In April of this year she came out publicly in an interview with Sports Illustrated, revealing that she’s very passionate about working with children in order to bring bullying to the forefront within the LGBT community. She spoke during the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco about her coming-out story. "I sat on the stairs, she sat in her room. I was like, 'Mom, gotta tell you something!' I came out, she was like, 'I love you.' I was like, 'All right, well, gonna go play some video games.”


South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya smoked the competition at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. But then reports that Semenya's gender was suddenly in question put her even further into the spotlight. Semenya, 19 at the time, underwent several rounds of gender testing and international scrutiny over the course of nearly a year. Eventually, she was cleared to compete, and even won the silver medal in the 800-meter run at the 2011 World Championships after being revealed to be intersex. Still, it looks like Semenya has taken a hiatus from her competitive career.



Sixteen-year-old Cory Oskam is a hockey-loving teenage goalie who happens to be transgender. Oskam, who lives in Vancouver, renamed himself after one of his favorite players, Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks. He and his family continue to do advocacy work, educating others — especially children and his peers — about being transgender.

 


Dave Kopay made history in late 1975 as the first NFL player, and the first major team-sports athlete overall, to come out as gay — albeit after he had retired. Kopay spent nine seasons, 1964 through 1972, in the NFL as a running back for the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and New Orleans Saints. After his coming-out interview in the Washington Star, he “got very, very few hate mails,” he told Outsports. “Mostly the mail that poured in was amazingly supportive and telling their own stories. There were hundreds of letters forwarded to me.” Kopay is still making history: This year he joined other active and retired athletes in a friend of the court brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down California’s Proposition 8.


Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad is known for her outrageous swim attempts, including circling Manhattan Island in seven hours and 57 minutes in 1979 for completing what was then the longest swim in history, a 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida. She has since been named to the U.S. National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In November, Nyad will serve as the celebrity sports guest during the Olivia Travel eight-day Mexican Ixtapa trip. Recently, she has been best known for her four attempts to swim the Straits of Florida, from Cuba to the U.S. In 2012 she made it 41 miles before hypothermia, storms, and jellyfish stings forced her to abandon the effort.


Esera Tuaolo was the third former NFL player to officially come out. Three years after retiring in 1999, Tuaolo announced that he was gay on HBO's Real Sports. He has been a firm advocate for LGBT people and informative on what life is like being gay in sports, comparing it to the treatment of gay service members under "don't ask, don't tell."



Fallon Fox was in the Navy and married to a woman before feeling a true calling: to be a female MMA fighter. Fox left the military, eventually underwent transition surgery in 2006, and began her career in MMA. After two pro fights, she was forced to come out after a reporter attempted to confirm a rumor that she is transgender. Her status as a fighter was contested, but now the featherweight has been sanctioned to keep defending her 3-0 record.

 


Nicknamed "Alfie," Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas came out in 2009, making him the first openly gay professional rugby union player. Now retired from professional rugby, Thomas remains active with the British charity ChildLine, a telephone counseling service for children and young people. "I don't know if my life is going to be easier because I'm out," Thomas said in an interview with The Guardian, "but if it helps someone else ... then it will have been worth it."


Even with a short career, center fielder Glenn Burke was known as the Los Angeles Dodgers' heart and soul during his playing days in the mid-1970s. He was undoubtedly out to his teammates, was largely credited with inventing the high-five with Dusty Baker, and even played in the World Series for the Dodgers before being traded for a tumultuous tenure with the Oakland A's. After only four years in professional baseball, Burke's career stopped short after a car accident. In 1995, Burke died, essentially homeless, due to complications from AIDS.  


University of California gymnast Graham Ackerman won three NCAA Men's Gymnastics national titles during his college career, and was named a six-time All-American. He was later slowed by injury, hindering his chances at an Olympic career, but said it was important that he was out while on his college team. "I think a lot of straight gymnasts are guarded," he told Out in 2005. "It's been good for my team to be exposed to someone who is gay, because they've had to adjust. It's been a learning experience for so many of us: for teammates, myself, my coaches, my parents."


Two-time Olympic Gold medal diver Greg Louganis is the only male in Olympic history to sweep the springboard and platform diving events in consecutive Olympic Games. His gold in 1988 did not come easy; he hit his head on the board during the preliminary rounds of the springboard event in front of millions around the globe, suffering a concussion. He later disclosed that he was gay and HIV-positive and was subsequently dropped by most of his corporate sponsors, with the exception of swimwear manufacturer Speedo. Louganis is an outspoken HIV/AIDS activist and a New York Times best-selling author with his autobiography, Breaking the Surface. He served as the diving announcer in the 1994 Gay Games and, more recently, announced his engagement to Johnny Chaillot this month.   


Hulking Australian rugby player Ian Roberts came out in 1995, making him one of the highest-profile openly gay active pro athletes at the time. "When I came out officially it was probably by that stage one of the worst kept secrets, you know, in rugby league," he told Australian radio. "Anyone who knew me within rugby league, within the fraternity, knew that I was gay." While his decision to stop attempting to pass as straight was largely heralded, he said he had been called antigay slurs on the field. After continuing in the league for two more years, Roberts retired.



NBA center Jason Collins became the first active male professional gay athlete on the cover of Sports Illustrated in April. After the news hit, Martina Navratilova called Collins “a game changer” for team sports, one of the last areas where inherent homophobia persists. In the article, Collins said that he chose 98 as his jersey number while with the Boston Celtics (and later, the Washington Wizards) in honor of Matthew Shepard, the victim of a horrifying gay hate crime in Laramie, Wyo., who died in 1998. “It’s a statement to myself, my family, and my friends,” Collins said. In college, he was an All-American with NCAA powerhouse Stanford, and he went to the Houston Rockets during the first round (18th overall) of the 2001 NBA draft. He's currently a free agent but has played for the Celtics, Wizards, New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Atlanta Hawks. Collins marched through the streets of Boston in the city's 2013 Gay Pride parade.
 

MMA fighter Jessica Aguilar packs a lot of punch despite her fighting weight of 115 pounds. Aguilar, who is bisexual, was born in Mexico and raised in Texas. She joined a gym in 2005 and was pulled into boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu classes. After placing at the top of her division at the North American Grappling Association, she fell into MMA, and is now 15-4. She said that being out doesn't affect her performance or cause any problems for her in the league. "This is who I am. I’m not hiding anything. For me, it doesn’t affect me a bit. It doesn’t affect my girlfriend, and it shouldn’t affect anybody else."



Now 36, Ji Wallace is an Australian Olympic trampoline champion who came out as gay in 2005 and as HIV-positive in 2012. He’s won several Australian national titles, and he set a world record for doing a triple-triple in the hugh jump at the World Championships. In the 2000 Olympics he received a silver medal in the trampoline. He told HIV Plus magazine that a gold Olympic medal is 93% silver, a thin exterior plating is the only physical difference between the gold and silver medals. “So really, everybody comes second, don’t they?” the Australian Olympian jokes. “It’s just a pretty paint job.”


The Boston Breakers' Joanna Lohman grew up playing soccer, eventually playing for Penn State, where she received accolades in the Big 10 conference and was named an All-American. Later she joined the U.S. National Team and played on club teams before going professional. Now she and her partner and teammate, Lianne Sanderson, are helping underprivileged children in the U.S. and abroad. The JoLi Academy provides sports training and team building for young people, especially girls.


John Amaechi is one of the world's most high-profile gay athletes. American born and English raised, Amaechi made history with his 2007 New York Times best-selling memoir, in which he came out as gay, becoming the first former NBA player to do so. Post-retirement, Amaechi continues to do charitable work, for which he's been recognized by the British government and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by the queen in 2011.



Johnny Weir is a three-time U.S. national champion (2004-2006) in men’s figure skating and represented the U.S. twice at the Olympics, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. He hopes to compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Japan. Weir recently starred in his own TV series on Sundance and Logo, titled Be Good Johnny Weir. He also was a guest judge on Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. Weir officially came out in January 2011, when he wrote in his memoir, Welcome to My World, “With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story.”


Out gymnast Josh Dixon started with the sport at age 7 because his sisters were involved, but he showed great promise. He excelled at Stanford, where he was a team champion in 2009 and 2010, as well as a floor exercise champ in 2010. Dixon missed his chance to make the Olympic team in 2012 but is now on the U.S. national team.


English soccer player Justin Fashanu came out in 1990, in the middle of his career. He was first black English soccer player to be valued at over 1 million pounds, when he transferred teams, and was one of the biggest stars in British soccer. However, after he came out, Fashanu was taunted on the field by fans, and he eventually left the sport. He came to the U.S. but was accused of sexually assaulting a teenager. Just weeks after returning to England in 1998, he hanged himself. Since then, the Justin Campaign was launched in his honor to stop bullying and homophobia in sports, specifically soccer.



Though he did not make the Olympic team in 2012, Keelin Godsey was the first openly transgender athlete to compete for a spot. He threw a personal best in the hammer throw, finishing fifth with a throw of 231 feet and three inches. Prior to that, Godsey came out in 2005 while attending Bates College, where he was a 16-time All-American honoree. Upon missing the Olympic team by two spots, Godsey said he had no regrets. “I’ve still done more than most people that are trans have,” he told The New York Times last year. “I’ve still competed at a level that most people haven’t. I don’t want to let not making a team be what brings that down.”



A junior guard for George Washington University’s women’s basketball team at the time, Kye Allums made history in 2010 when he became the first transgender man to play NCAA Division I college hoops. Allums played eight games during the 2010-2011 season, but following multiple game-related head injuries he opted to quit basketball his senior year. Since college, Allums has traveled to high schools throughout the country speaking to teens about coming out as trans.


Women's professional golf allows transgender women to compete in tournaments, and that's largely because of Lana Lawless. Lawless won the Long Drivers of America long-drive title in 2008 but was later ruled ineligible because she's transgender; the LPGA soon adopted a similar "female at birth" rule that made her unable to participate in its tournaments. She settled a lawsuit with the LPGA and the Long Drivers of America in 2011 to allow transgender women to compete, getting rid of the "female at birth" requirements.



Former power forward Latasha Byears played for four WNBA teams and was among the the top 10 rebounders by 2003. However, she was accused of involvement in the rape of another WNBA player and was cut by the Los Angeles Sparks shortly after. After the case was dismissed, she returned to the WNBA and then played overseas.


Major political donor, attorney, and philanthropist Laura Ricketts of LPAC is part of the family that owns the beloved Chicago Cubs. She happens to be the first openly lesbian owner of a major sports franchise. "Being a woman and being gay is really a unique position in our society," she said to Forbes. "I know in my experience of activism, oftentimes it makes a difference if something is woman-focused."



Before softball was eliminated as an Olympic sport, Lauren Lappin helped lead the Americans to a silver medal in Beijing in 2008. The catcher did it while already out — a rarity in Olympic sports. She was an alternate on the gold medal–winning 2004 team. And while playing for Stanford, she was a two-time All-American.


British-born Lianne Sanderson plays on the Boston Breakers soccer team with her partner, Joanna Lohman. After years of playing back in Europe, Sanderson hopped the pond to play for Women's Professional Soccer and the National Women's Soccer League. Sanderson and Lohman are helping underprivileged children in the U.S. and abroad through the JoLi Academy. “We’re so lucky that we have each other,” Sanderson told The Advocate earlier this year. “There’s times when we’re in India where we find it hard to just keep going. I might feel hungry, or tired, or run-down, but Joanna is just there for me, to remind me to keep going.”  



Liz Carmouche, an Iraq War veteran, became the first out lesbian to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts circuit, when she took on Ronda Rousey in front of a packed house in Anaheim, Calif., in February. The two were the first women to battle for UFC. She lost the bantamweight (125-136 pounds) fight, but she's still 8-3 in the circuit. Her next fight is expected to be against rookie Jessica Andrade in July. Carmouche spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a helicopter electrician before retiring from active duty and joining the UFC.


Mark Bingham’s job was running the public relations firm he founded, but his passion was rugby. He played the sport at Los Gatos High School in California and the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a member of the 1991 national championship team. He went on to play with amateur rugby clubs in San Francisco, including the predominantly gay but inclusive San Francisco Fog, which he helped found in 2000. He became more than a sports hero, however, on September 11, 2001. A passenger that day on United Airlines Flight 93, bound from Newark for San Francisco, Bingham is believed to be among those who wrested control of the plane from terrorist hijackers and caused it to crash in rural Pennsylvania instead of its intended target of the White House or U.S. Capitol, sacrificing his life in the process. The Bingham Cup tournament, “the World Cup of gay rugby,” is named for him.


Martina Navratilova is arguably one of the greatest tennis players to ever grace the court. This Czech-American won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 major mixed doubles titles in a storied career that spanned 32 years (1974-2006).  On a personal level, she was also one of the first world-class athletes (along with Billie Jean King) to come out, when she was featured in a column back in 1981. In 1981 she also was sworn in as a U.S. citizen, having escaped communist Czechoslovakia a few years earlier.  She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the women's singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times. She recorded the longest winning streak in history, winning 74 consecutive matches.  

 


Matthew Mitcham, now 25, came out two months before he made history as the first openly gay man to win an Olympic gold medal. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Australian diver took home the gold for the 10-meter platform, beating out a tenacious Chinese diving team. After his big win, Mitcham was named the chief of parade for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2009, and he took part in the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany.


Megan Rapinoe is known to soccer fans worldwide. She is currently playing for Olympique Lyonnais in the women’s professional league in France but plans to rejoin the U.S. Women’s National Team when her contract is up. During the U.S. team’s run for Olympic gold in London 2012, she scored three goals, including a game winner against Colombia and an equalizer against Canada in the semis, and she contributed a team high four assists. Her numerous accolades include being named to the short list for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or (Women’s World Player of the Year), a finalist for Sports Illustrated’s Most Inspiring Performers of 2012, and the 2013 Algarve (Portugal) Cup Player of the Tournament. Rapinoe came out publicly in The Advocate’s sister publication Out last July. Since then she has been outspoken about combating homophobia in sports. In a November interview with SheWired, Rapinoe said, “Honestly, until people start coming out regularly, then it’s gonna be more difficult for all of these barriers to be broken down, and hopefully we can get to the point where people don’t have to. I think that’s the goal, and I think that’s where everybody wants it to go. But until that point, I think it is still important to come out.”  

Mianne Bagger is a Danish-born Australian who made headlines in 2004 after challenging the European and Australian women's golf tours to change their "female by birth" qualification criteria, and that triggered a reexamination for many sports. Bagger is the first trans woman to play in a professional women's tournament.

Australian Natalie Cook, who retired from beach volleyball after the London Olympics, first medaled with a bronze in Atlanta in 1996. Then she won gold in Sydney in 2000.



A regular on the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2006 to 2009, striker Natasha Kai scored an impressive 24 goals in 64 games during her tenure. The tatted-up Hawaii native was also part of the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing that beat out Brazil to take home gold. Prior to Beijing, Kai came out in an interview with NBC.Olympics.com, saying that she’d missed important training due in part to bronchitis and a breakup with her girlfriend. Kai has suffered from shoulder and knee injuries in recent years, but the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit picked her as part of its supplemental draft this past February. She’s expected to hit the field shortly after the start of the season.
 


Orlando Cruz is a human stereotype-buster. Small-framed and openly gay, Cruz packs a powerful punch as a rising featherweight boxer. He has 20 knockouts under his belt since starting to knock heads in his native Puerto Rico. He wears his outness on his sleeve, proclaiming last year that "I have always been and always will be a proud gay man." In an interview with The Advocate he said his homeland is not homophobic: “It’s a myth.”

 


Pia Sundhage was the head coach of the Swedish women’s national team, and then the head coach of the U.S. Women’s team from 2008 to 2012. She led the team to two Olympic gold medals and a second-place finish in a close one against Japan the 2011 World Cup. She was named the 2012 FIFA World Coach of the Year for her efforts, and she boasts a .897 win percentage in 107 (91-6-10) matches for the U.S. side. Before becoming a coach, she was a player for her home country, Sweden. She played in 146 international matches and contributed 71 goals. In 2000 she finished sixth in the FIFA Women’s Player of the Century voting. In January 2010 she outed herself during an interview with a Swedish television show by saying that she has never felt homophobia while serving as head coach of the U,S. team.

 


Martina Navratilova was a pioneer for women in sports, and her onetime coach, Renee Richards, also broke glass ceilings. Richards, born in New York as Richard Raskind, transitioned in 1975 and continued to pursue her dream to play tennis professionally. After winning a landmark case in New York State’s Supreme Court in 1977, Richard swerved and lobbied on the pro female circuit for four years. She would ascend to the top 20, play doubles against Navratilova, and later coach the legend.



Australian doubles champion Rennae Stubbs represented her home country in four Olympic games (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). She’s the winner of 60 Grand Slam matches, including taking the top spot in the Australian Open in 2000, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 2001, and Wimbledon again in 2004. She is the longest serving member of the Australia Fed Cup team, for which she played 17 years. Stubbs came out publicly in a 2006 article in The Sydney Morning Herald. "I was like, 'I have to get over this, this is not a phase, this is not something to be embarrassed about, this is who I am and I'm not going to deny who I am', and I think this is the point you get to … I'd just like to be a little bit more open about it now because I want some 16-year-old girl out there to think it's OK. All it is is somebody loving somebody."



Rick Welts,
the highest-ranking openly gay executive in the NBA, left his job at the Phoenix Suns in 2011 to be closer to his partner and his two children in Sacramento, but then quickly secured a job with the Golden State Warriors as president only weeks later. Welts is obviously not only a trailblazer but also a valuable leader in sports.



Los Angeles Galaxy striker Robbie Rogers got a standing ovation when he took the field this year as the first openly gay male player in Major League Soccer — or in any major league U.S. team sport. Rogers had left the sport upon coming out but returned after a few months of adjustment. On that day, Rogers said he knew the world would be watching, but the nerves disappeared when it became just another game.

 


Rudy Galindo
overcame an impoverished childhood in Mexico to become U.S. figure skating’s first openly gay champion in 1996. Galindo, who’s HIV-positive, was just inducted into the Figure Skating Hall of Fame in December. Says Laura Galindo-Black, Rudy’s sister and onetime coach, "I'm just so proud of him, that he's finally acknowledged for who he is as an artist and what he contributed to the world of figure skating. He crossed so many lines and barriers. I think he's the perfect person to be honored."

 


Seimone Augustus
is a three-time WNBA all-star currently starting for the Minnesota Lynx, and in 2011 was named MVP after leading her squad to the championship title. This two-time Olympic Gold medal winner (2008, 2012) had a storied collegiate career at Louisiana State University that includes being named a three-time All-American and the Naismith College Player of the Year. Her jersey was officially retired at LSU, making her the first female in her school’s history to achieve the honor. In 2012 this outspoken lesbian made national headlines again, this time after publicly taking a stand against a ballot measure in Minnesota that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state. The ballot measure has since failed, and marriage is now legal for same-sex couples. At the time Augustus said, "You want to be able to do it in a city that, for one, has embraced me and been like my second home and is her home — this is where [fiancée LaTaya Varner is] from — to be able to share a special moment in Minnesota history."


Portland State University is the only Division I college with an openly gay head coach for women's basketball, Sherri Murrell. Since coming out, Murrell says she has become a better coach, and she constantly works toward breaking barriers for women in athletics. “Women’s sports has always been labeled as lesbian, and many try to combat that,” Murrell told The Advocate in 2011. “Talking to some of my colleagues, it’s just one more factor they believe can keep them from being successful. But I’m the true story that it doesn’t have to be that way.”


Sheryl Swoopes was a three-time Olympic champion, the first player ever signed by the WNBA, a league MVP, a four-time league champion with the Houston Comets, and was even the first woman to have a Nike basketball shoe named after her, the Air Swoopes. Throughout her 12-year professional career, Swoopes scored 4,875 points. In 2005, Swoopes told The Advocate that she was in a relationship with a woman. However. in 2011, it was revealed that she was marrying a man; though she declined having a "coming out straight" interview process, most believe that she is bisexual. Swoopes is now the head coach for Loyola University in Chicago.

 


Newly inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Sue Wicks played for the New York Liberty. She was the team's top pick for the inaugural season in 1997.
 


A former U.S. decathlete who competed in the 1968 Olympics, Tom Waddell went on to found the Gay Games in 1981. The event was originally called the Gay Olympics, but that landed Waddell in a dispute over the right to use the Olympic name. He died of AIDS complications in 1987.


When softball player Vicky Galindo came out as bisexual in The Advocate, she was on her way to the Beijing Olympics. She returned from China with a silver medal and the admiration of her teammates, including Lauren Lappin, who said Galindo’s openness gave her the courage to come out herself.


NFL cornerback Wade Davis has played for the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins. and the Seattle Seahawks but now is out of the closet and mentoring LGBT youth at the Hetrick-Martin Institute.


Even though it's been a couple of years since Will Sheridan graduated from Villanova, where he was a starter for the men's basketball team, he likes to use his experiences to help others. "I'm trying to have a voice, and I want that voice to reach as many people as it can," told ESPN when coming out in 2011. "I mean, look at me. I'm black. I'm gay. I'm like a quadruple minority, and I feel like a little piece of me resides in everybody. Maybe there's a kid out there who doesn't think he's OK, and he can look at me and say, 'OK, he played college basketball. He went overseas. He has a music career and now he's living his life. Now he's who he wants to be and he's happy and confident and comfortable.' It's my responsibility to talk about that."

 

Written by Michelle Garcia, Leslie Dobbins, Lucas Grindley, Diane Anderson-Minshall, Trudy Ring, Tracy E. Gilchrist, Neal Broverman, Katie Wurtzel, and David Artavia. Art by Scott McPherson.