The National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame compiled their first round of prominent gay athletes and allies as inductees for “standing up to stereotypes” and embracing the LGBT community in sports.
“The National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame’s mission is to recognize both individuals and organizations whose achievements and efforts have enhanced sports and athletics for the LGBT community,” Executive Director Bill Gubrud told 429Magazine.
“In addition, the Hall of Fame will preserve the history of LGBT individuals who have impacted professional and amateur sports and provide outreach and education to the sporting world so that LGBT youth all across the nation feel welcome and safe to participate in any and all athletic related activities.”
For Gubrud, he has been an avid sports fan and has “played amateur sports through the years.” Breaking the stereotypes of gays not associating with sports has been very important for Gubrud.
Accepting nominees this summer, the non-profit organization included tennis champ Martina Navratilova, NBA player Jason Collins, tennis champion Billie Jean King, and straight ally and former Rugby player Ben Cohen.
“To be considered for nomination for the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, an individual, either amateur or professional, must be in the sports arena that has demonstrated athletic achievements beyond compare,” Gubrud explained.
“Nominees for consideration can be either an LGBT member or heterosexual and exhibited advancement for the LGBT community. Additionally, any corporation or company that had shown support for the LGBT community is eligible for nomination.”
Other inductees include Glenn Burke, Christina Kahrl, Renee Richards, LZ Granderson, Dr. Tom Waddell, Orlando Cruz, Andrew Goldstein, and Jerry Pritikin.
Organizations that are also included are Outsports.com, the International Gay Rodeo Association, the Chicago Cubs, and Anheuser-Busch.
“The nominating committee will look for any individual or organization that has put forth the effort to preserve the history of gays and lesbians in the sporting world,” Gubrud added. “Likewise, the nominee has worked to instill and promote a safe and tolerant environment so that gay and lesbian youth across the nation feel welcomed to participate in any and all athletic related activities.”
Gubrud sees the importance of the Hall of Fame as three fold.
“It is vital for LGBT youth to have role models they can identify with in a professional sport, where you have none or very little,” said Gubrud. “This can be tremendous to ones self-being. I think it is very important to have someone you can identify with closely to who you are.”
He also sees the importance of “teaching school districts, youth athletic groups, high schools and colleges around the country the importance of being inclusive to LGBT athletes” as well as “teaching and preserving the history of LGBT’s in sports.”
“It is very hard to move forward when you do not know where you have been,” Gubrud said.
They also wish to start outreach programs in parks and school districts as well as raise funds to have a Hall of Fame building in Chicago. Donated to the organization, the building will showcase items that commemorate the history of LGBT athletes and its allies through the years.
“All the hall of fames have a special section in there for women or for African-Americans. No one has a section for gay and lesbian (athletes and allies),” Gubrud concluded.
The organization will release the names of the remaining inductees by July 9.
The first ceremony of induction will be on August 2, a day before Out at Wrigley which is the “nation’s largest gay day at a major league sporting event.” The organization hopes to have the inductees at the ceremony, courtesy of sponsorship by Orbitz.