From showers to Sochi to Sam's sacks, 2014 was quite the year for LGBT athletes and fans. Here are some of our favorite moments for gay athletes and allies this year.
After penning the poetically genius open letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns back in 2012, Chris Kluwe found himself in hot water with his then-NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings. Kluwe alleges he was discriminated against by the Vikings — specifically special teams coordinator Mike Priefer — for his pro-LGBT activism, and eventually released by the team for his outspokenness. Priefer served a three-game suspension after an internal investigation confirmed some of Kluwe’s allegations against him.
Prior to the start of the college football season, Arizona State backup offensive lineman Edward “Chip” Sarafin came out publicly as gay, making him the only active player in major college football to do so. As a redshirt, Sarafin had already earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering prior to the season’s start, and he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the same field. He is also studying for the MCATs and has taken on a number of football-related community outreach projects. As he told Compete, the magazine that first broke the story, “Someone who gives back to everyone, and loves his family … that is the type of man I want to be.”
Dale Scott, a 29-year MLB officiating veteran, came out as gay this fall, after an article was published featuring Scott and his husband, Mike Rausch. “My thought process was is that there’s a story about my career and how I got started in umpiring, and they’re talking to people I have known since junior high, and it didn’t seem right to have a whole story and pictures without a picture of Mike and I, someone who’s been with me through this entire process,” Scott told Outsports.
7. Blake Skelljerup gets engaged
Former New Zealand Olympic speed skater Blake Skelljerup announced his engagement to Trend Styled fashion stylist and blogger Saul Carrasco, not long after serving as an ambassador and final torchbearer for Gay Games 9 in Cleveland. The self-proclaimed boyfriend twins made their announcement on Instagram. Skelljerup is an outspoken gay athlete who was featured in the Sochi documentary To Russia With Love.
6. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi
The International Olympic Committee’s decision to name Sochi, Russia, the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics was a controversial one, and one that brought Russia’s draconian anti-LGBT legislation to the forefront. Protests were planned to combat the Russian propaganda, while other LGBT athletes and fans feared for their safety entering the games. The Olympics went off relatively without many reported incidents, but the international outcry from the gay community and allies inevitably influenced some major policy changes by the IOC.
Since coming out of retirement — and coming out of the closet — footballer Robbie Rogers has had immense success with the L.A. Galaxy. Earlier this year, the 27-year-old received a lucrative contract extension after moving from midfield to defense. Capping off a great season with the Galaxy and kicking off a book tour, Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to win a big-time team pro sports title in the United States.
After the controversial decision to hold the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia, a nation with anti-LGBT legislation still on the books, the International Olympic Committee voted to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination clause. The move was a strong show of support for LGBT athletes and fans hoping to safely attend the Olympic Games in the future.
After an acclaimed stint as the figure skating commentators for the Sochi Winter Olympics, former Olympians Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski became the new faces of NBC skating commentary. The duo’s on-camera work, chemistry, and respective style were on point in Sochi — matching pink blazers, anyone?
After becoming the first openly gay active player in a major American men’s professional sport league, journeyman NBA player Jason Collins announced his retirement from professional basketball. “It has been 18 exhilarating months since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay man in one of the four major professional team sports,” Collins said on the magazine’s website. “And it has been nine months since I signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a game in one of those leagues. It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history.”
It wasn’t one of the biggest sports stories of the year, or one of the biggest LGBT stories of the year. When Michael Sam came out publicly in February, he thrust himself into the headlines for what would be one of the biggest stories of the year — period. The former SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year was drafted, kissed his boyfriend, showered, etc. etc., and the media was there every step of the way. Through it all, he remains poised and focused on his goal of playing in a regular season NFL game, which would make him the first openly gay player to do so. Here’s wishing the former Mizzou Tiger success in 2015.