Taking Children From Their Homes: Russia Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Parenting Rights

“Waves of protests surrounded Vladimir Putin’s return to power as Russia’s President in March 2012. Since then, parliament has passed so many new laws restricting civil liberties that some people now call it the ‘mad printer.'”

– Amnesty International Wire (Amnesty.org)

Russia’s Civil Liberties Record: Getting Worse and Worse In Word & Deed

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”

                                                                          – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

According to the Associated Press, Russian State Duma Deputy Zhuravlev (Putin’s United Russia Party/parliamentary caucus) is introducing a law making “nontraditional sexual orientation” viable grounds to remove child custody for LGBTQ parents.

In the draft bill for this proposed new law, Zhuravlev wrote:

“Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family… if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

Additional grounds for denial or revocation of parental custody include alcoholism, drug abuse or any amount or type of drug use deemed inappropriate, which has nothing at all to do with gender, sexual orientation or law-abiding families established in-place, having committed none of these substance-related offenses.

Here we see yet another instance of punishing allies in addition to homosexual persons, as once passed, this bill would affect families and children who aren’t even LGBTQ-identified. Custodial rights could then be revoked if both or either parent were gay (out or not), so if two parents happen to have an understanding in their relationship, share post-divorce custody, etcetera, the parent who happens to be gay can be penalized, or a child can be taken away from one or both parents for any so-called ‘homosexual-affiliated’ reason(s).

As it is already illegal to mention homosexuality around children or to advise or counsel LGBTQ or questioning youth. This recent unfortunate move is thought to be the next step in Russia’s plans to eradicate gay tolerance, inclusiveness or protections altogether for LGBTQ persons, friends, allies or families.

At this point, though the bill is to be debated before it is formally passed, it seems such motions are little more than a formality. Russian lawmakers keep clinging to the through line that their anti-gay motions and laws are being instituted to protect the children, rather than being anti-gay.

Putin has already banned LGBTQ people residing in other countries from adopting Russian children, and as of this writing, the Russian government is also considering reinstating a gay blood donor ban.

Though boycotts and protests are occurring worldwide, even Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is throwing his hands up in the air, saying Russia will not change their minds or policies in terms of its anti-gay legislation, and Rogge’s sharing little more on the matter.

Rogge told the press, “…one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”

Activists, lawmakers, PR representatives, athletes, spokespeople and officials can make all the claims they want leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but we won’t know who’ll be arrested or how LGBT people or allies will be treated (both on arrival, during the events and while attempting to leave Russia) until it’s too late.

Many LGBTQ folks (like Johnny Weir) are Russophiles and/or have Russian spouses or partners. Have you been to Russia? Did you love it? If so, how do you feel now that Russian policymakers are passing all of these awful anti-LGBT laws?


Mighty Real: The New Gay Workout Anthems Playlist


[Please note that some of the visuals in the videos are NSFW – Not Safe for Work. YouTube usually requires a login before those who are over 18 can view them, but we can’t promise this will be the case. Some of the selections are Rated PG-13 due to language and imagery.]

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about working out to LGBTQ-inclusive anthems that puts a lil’ extra pep in my elliptical hyper-step.

Living by a gay-owned gym staffed by fab music lovers who know their stuff doesn’t hurt—but when you have your own playlist, you can take all your fab on the road, or stick it in your headphones and jog it out.

Need some suggestions? Thought you’d never ask.

The tracks below have either been co-opted by gay folks or penned and performed by them (mostly the latter). You’ll find some classics and discover some newbies.

Big Freedia – Azz Everywhere http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbR5wPpoOiw

In the words of George Clinton, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” This track’s less about your bootie and more about your free spirited shaking of said behind. And that’s right Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the TwerkMaster General, Big Freedia. Girlfriend brings the party on “Overdrive. Overdrive! Overdrive! When you take a ride!” Everything Big Freedia touches is dope. As the Queen Diva of New Orleans Sissy Bounce, she’s spent many years crafting her tracks and performance/recording skills to be at the top of the “bands that make you dance.” You don’t listen to this song—you DO THIS song. Don’t worry, she rocks it like a drill instructor all along the way—you won’t get lost, Boo.

September – Cry for You (Remix) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf1kcbFzWyI

A regular club and Pride performer, September works that Swedish pop thing in a sweet, coy little way. Interesting tidbit—the riff’s from Bronski Beat’s track “Smalltown Boy” (different playlist for a different day, but an absolutely riveting track about the struggles of coming out. September seems all coquettish, but the song’s saying in essence, “Eff off, Dear.” It’s not like she didn’t try. Mm-hm. She really tried. It’s just time to go. And you can shout that along with her at the top of your lungs in 3…2…

Sylvester: You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG2ixYJ79iE

You’d be surprised how many college kids aren’t aware of this track. The song used to be utilized as a joke in TV movies or films to wink-nudge at the audience that so and so character, vibe or environment is queer. (No.) Sandra Bernhard reclaimed the beauty of this track in-community by recording her rendition of it, as well as performing a shelarious routine declaring her love for Sylvester and coming up in his era. This is a song about freedom and authenticity—and the bass line, riff, and chorus just won’t quit.

Manila Luzon — “Hot Couture” official music video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gdbbHr1d2A

Consider this to be your water break or cool-down song, as it’s a bit more mellow. Sickenly scrumptious hook and lyrics about dressing yourself up in your own love. It’s a delight to watch Manila Luzon (and Mini-Manila Luzon) pay tribute to fashion *as* function and looking fierce doing it. The little storyline involving baby Luzon in the video is a bit of a misty-eyed sitch, and it’s something they didn’t have to add to a song that’s focused on fashion. Love. It.

Madonna – Don’t Stop (Smegster Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VSZIVCJ5ow

From all reports and regardless of past bisexual dalliances, Madonna is “Madonna-Sexual” and Super-Ego-centric–she’s been both loving and loathsome to queer folks including for whatever reasons, her out gay brother (sigh). Still, she’s family and her work keeps the emphasis on the “fun” part of dysfunctional (maybe not so much lately?). Anyway—in itself, “Don’t Stop” from “Bedtime Stories” is anthemic, but needs a little HI-NRG to keep your BPMs and heart rate up and healthy. We aim to please, so here you go. Can’t call this track a “refix,” as the original’s pretty damn delicious.

Hilary Duff – With Love (Rhv Vs. Dave Aude Club Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZJE_xSC9pc

Hillary Duff’s kept a pretty even keel and steered clear of cray cray ex-child star drama. (No drag queen harassment or trolling tweets in sight). In fact, Ms. Duff’s set aside some “sweet time” to create some Think Before You Speak gay-ally PSAs (thanks guuurl).  As for this particular remix, the positive affirmations in the lyrics are undeniable. “Tell me I’m wrong, that I’m coming on way too strong. Don’t think I’ll be crushed. Just do it with love. Love, love, love!” We are divas—do we not bleed? Proceed with caution. Just do it with love.

George Michael – Outside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwZAYdHcDtU Because George made the absolute best out of a terrible arrest, “Outside” makes today’s list. Never one to shy away from social commentary, this song’s about adventure and its subtext flirts with how Michael himself got popped for it. Albeit risky, he certainly went on an “adventure.” This track’s about play in its every connotation, finding the strength to collect yourself and sally forth again and again, and moving your body-body at the party-party.

The Bird and the Bee – Fcking Boyfriend (Peaches remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAcqkX7O0Q

Are you asking him or telling him? Eh, same thing. “When you laid down with me, you never slept that night?” Come on. Poetry. Sheer electro-poetry bliss. Work it out.

Flawless (Go to the City) George Michael & The Ones (Mike’s Ultra Clean Extended Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYcTlot5evY

Shout it with me: “You’ve got to go to the city!”

Call it what you will—a coming out anthem, a runway ready hit for the children, or absolutely flawless. Here’s yet another track with, like, triply-lovely significance. The track was inspired by  a fantastic movie of the same name and it is indeed “Flawless.” The Ones are at the very least exceedingly queer-friendly (what? Like everyone has to present a card at the border? I’m not walkin’ around with a queer-counting clipboard), and George Michael’s “Flawless” is encouraging a dear friend (or perhaps his younger self) to leave a drab humdrum town and get out…for good. “Well you’ve got to think of somethin’, ’cause your job pays you nothing. But you’ve got the things God gave ya, so the music may yet be your savior…you’ve got to go to the city.” The Ones chime in “Like perfection. Like no other. Flawless. Absolutely flawless.” Mmm. Quelle motivational!

If I find out this song’s about Andrew Ridgely I will start crying tears of joy, right there on the elliptical stair-stepper. I swear before Yeezus I will.

Cazwell – Ice Cream Truck (Dee Jay Tatto Club Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jr3okGlL4A

Brazilian-born and NYC bred, Cazwell is a prolific, hella-experienced rapper-producer, and his label’s got this naughty habit of populating his videos with eyefuls of scantily-clad models. Unheard of! Sure…anyway, the original video is cute, camp and somewhat ironic contraposed with the visual hotness you see here, but his remix amps things up just a notch or two. Qué sabor….

Extra Fun, Funny Goodies, & More Diva Tributes:

RuPaul – Jealous Of My Boogie (Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLemKdmoris

Looking So F*kin’ Good – RuPaul & DJ ShyBoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBG5R_EJ0SM

Depeche Mode – People are People Remix – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi5uWsI9G6g

Lady GaGa – Bad Romance (David Guetta Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_OkDzkSuvQ

Latrice Royale & Manila Luzon — The Chop (Official Music Video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHzdXFCJ-c

Willam & Rhea Litré in “Let’s Have a KaiKai” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfWeBYd7rkQ

Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right But It’s Okay (Thunderpuss Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSOWUwRFwi0

Scissor Sisters – Filthy / Gorgeous http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4RcBZy2jZA

Ru Paul – Workout http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUjUF0mFJ9A

XELLE featuring Mimi Imfurst “Queen” Official Music Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLqW6n29TYE

WERQIN’ GIRL” Music Video by Shangela Laquifa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hArTHxRpKmM

Alyssa Edwards : Drop Dead Gorgeous (B. Ames Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOC_VGuc6Sc

Donna Summer – Last Dance (long version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW-3Hp1EVdQ [Tempo changes at 1:30]

Willow Smith – Whip My Hair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymKLymvwD2U

Stardust Vs Madonna – Dance & Sing / Music Sounds Better With You Mashup (White Label Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVZrCWNT-yA

Sahara Davenport (with Gomi)– Go Off (Official Video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KziZUnSYRRA

The Ones – Flawless Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_e5oYqNRSM


George Michael – (Funny and funky) Go to the City Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgGDcn46aW8

“’Cause you’re beautiful. Like no other.”


Listen / work out to all these songs at once by clicking this playlist link.



Enough cardio for now, but we’ll bring you more. There will always be more.

Fave workout selections, anyone? (Heteronormative tracks, albums and playlists welcome.)

Protests Against Russian and Its Olympics Opening Dialogues About Its LGBT Community

After many years of protesting by the small but active lgbtq activist community, the international community is finally taking notice of human rights abuses and homophobic laws and prejudices rampant in the chilly country. A lot of it has to do with momentum around the Olympics, and the potential effects (or not) that protests will have.

A Kremlin-supported law passed Russia’s parliament, and was then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, back in June that placed a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” with jail time and harsh fines. In the view of the Orthodox Church, this is meant to promote traditional family structures and spur “Western European” advances into Russia, but to many others it seems intended to continue fostering a hostile atmosphere for lgbt people within the country. While police—not to mention the native population—already target queer individuals, this is another way for government forces to overcome its dissenters with swift police action.

Recognizing this public injustice, what started out as a small demonstration of protest has sparked nation-wide activity here in the United States and abroad to the United Kingdom boycotting one of the few Russian exports: Vodka.

It started when activist and author Dan Savage called for gay bars and supporters to boycott Russian vodkas, specifically the most prominently known Stolichnaya, or Stoli, Vodka. Since then, bars in West Hollywood, Chicago, NYC, and elsewhere have pulled Stoli from their shelves, dumped it into the streets, and are refusing to sell any more until the political situation changes abroad.

A statement was issued by the CEO of Stoli, Val Mendeleev, who reiterates that the company “has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community”  and cites initiatives and projects that partner with the queer community, like being the official vodka of Miami Pride and it’s “Be Real: Stories from Queer America” documentary series. Further, Mendeleev cites that the vodka sold in the U.S. is owned by SPI Group, based in Luxembourg, and while it does use some Russian ingredients, it also has distilleries in Latvia, and has been in disputes with the Russian government over brand ownership for years.

Another who argues against the protest is foremost Russian lgbt activist Nikolai Alekseev, who asks “what is the aim of this boycott?” “To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,” Aleksev continues. “It will [not] impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever.” Rather than this economic protest, Alekseev sees a more useful pressure placed on lawmakers and political leadership who supports anti-lgbt measures.

Vodka may not be your drink of choice, so a better protest for you might be the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Controversy began after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was reviewing allegations that queer athletes and tourists in the country for the games would be targeted because of the new law. After receiving assurances from the government that this would not be true, the response from the Russian government apparently flip-flopped, announcing that foreigners would be under the same scrutiny while in the country. Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz said in response that “until there is formal action to repeal the law, it applies to everyone within Russian borders. It ought to be clear to the IOC that verbal assurance from nameless Russian officials will do nothing to protect LBGT Olympians, visitors, and personnel during the Sochi games.”

So another round of protests was announced, this one calling on athletes and governments to protest the event. U.S. groups have asked the country to not participate, and for athletes to not go in order to make a statement to the country.

However, several individuals and groups have spoken out against these methods, citing more effectiveness at dealing with issues at the Olympics than simply protesting.

The Russian LGBT Network, on their Facebook page tells lgbt supporters, “Do not boycott the Olympics—boycott homophobia!” by exercising their freedoms of expression and to not censor beliefs or actions just because of the actions of the government. To openly disagree with Russian policies would send a stronger message activists said. They point to the 1968 Olympic games where although many boycotted the event, all that is remembered is Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’ “human rights salute” on the podium to stand in solidarity for those fighting for equality and human rights.

Greg Louganis, one of the world’s greatest divers who also happens to be a gay man, spoke out against what a boycott would mean for Olympic athletes. “Boycotts hurt the wrong people, [the athletes.” He argues that it would be selfish of the queer community to disrupt such an important event for world athletics.

Doing his part in the activism, a gay speed skater from New Zealand, Blake Skjellerup, reports that he will be wearing a rainbow pin in the Sochi Games, and calls on others to do the same. “I have no interest in going back in the closet in Sochi… This is not about defiance, this is me standing up for what I believe in.” He agrees with Louganis, saying that “I think visibility is the best possible solution, as opposed to hiding away and not attending.”

Gay Wrestler Comes Out, Real This Time

Celebrities and high-profile figures coming out has become a careful publicity game, stars wanting to disclose their sexualities themselves when they want, and tabloids wanting to be the first to dish the dirt. It seems like WWE wrestler Darren Young wanted to take his coming out into his own hands when he told a shocked TMZ reporter <http://www.tmz.com/2013/08/15/darren-young-wwe-superstar-gay/> that he was gay after getting off of a plane at in Los Angeles.

On the subject of gay wrestlers and whether or not they could be successful in the WWE, Young said, “Absolutely. Look at me. I’m a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I’ll tell you right now, I’m gay. And I’m happy. I’m very happy.” The reason for his coming out, TMZ later reported, came because of Young’s relationship with his boyfriend of two years. Maybe they’ll be tying the knot soon?

After coming out, Young got support from fellow wrestlers and his organization. Fellow WWE wrestler John Cena, congratulated Young for his coming out. He said he was proud of the wrestler for coming out and that it won’t—and shouldn’t—matter in or out of the ring, “as long as you’re entertaining.”

A representative at the WWE gave a statement <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/wwe-darren-young-gay_n_3761313.html>, saying that, “WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar. Today, in fact, Darren will be participating in one of our Be A Star anti-bullying rallies in Los Angeles to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”

Young, 33 whose real name is Fredrick Douglas Rosser, is considered the first openly active gay WWE wrestler to come out while with the company. United States wrestling has had several gay figures, but none who came out while employed as prominent figures. Orlando Jordan performed as a bisexual man while wrestling, a character that was based on his actual life, but never came out to the press while working for the WWE. And Chris Kanyon created a character who was openly homosexual which segued into him admitting that he was actually gay and wanted to remain closeted while preforming.

The WWE and other wrestling shows have used queer characters in their shows, but usually in negative ways. Most male characters exhibiting feminine or homosexual traits are cast as heels, or the villains, in matches. Many cross-dress. The character Goldust would be sexually lewd, groping opponents and expressing affection toward them in order to make them uncomfortable and lose.

One of the more popular gay story arches revolved around the tag-team Billy and Chuck, who started showing affection toward each other on stage after pairing up in 2001. They won two World Tag Team Championships, and then were scheduled to get married on air, in partnership with GLAAD. During the commitment ceremony, the duo declared that they were strictly heterosexual and that the wedding and relationship had all been a publicity stunt, enraging GLADD who denounced the WWE for leading them on.

It seems like good news for wrestling in the United States, whose male sports figures have been regarded as being behind the times in terms of coming out and being open about their sexuality. Just after coming out, WWE added Young to their 2K14 roster, and it will be his debut in a WWE video game. Young has been shocked by how much positive press his decision has been making, and is glad that he can be seen as a positive role model.

Straight Allies Spotlight: Why We Love Chris Kluwe

“Society’s trending towards more equality, and you see that in the locker room.”

– Chris Kluwe (to Larry King, on “Larry King Now” broadcast)


Oh, Chris: how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

First off, few people can bring themselves to hate him.

As the Oakland Raiders’ American NFL football punter, Chris Kluwe comes off as a fresh-faced, cheery, potty-mouthed and an unabashedly proud “gamer geek.” Kluwe’s spoken up—loudly—about everything from NFL labor disputes to honesty in the media. Now, he’s championing gay rights and marriage equality—and it’s not his first time rocking the mic for LGBTQ inclusivity.

The UCLA alum combines dashing good looks and dorky gamer references (he owns a fantasy gaming store for goodness’ sake), and let’s just say his wife Isabel isn’t the only one who finds him easy on the eyes.

Hm…male model? Athletic cover boy? What? Okay, losing track of the numbers here.

Still, there are so many reasons to adore him.

As articulate as he is awkward, Chris recently appeared on “Larry King Now”  to promote his  book, “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football and Assorted Absurdities.”

On the show, he briefly mentioned his personal protest of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment and his ever-expanding record of LGBT advocacy, which started hitting its stride last year.

Sharing a viewpoint with Larry King that’s rarely been shared by celebs publicly, Chris went on to express a bittersweet regret about the Prop 8 decision, saying  we could have pressed even harder to get more mileage from the opportunity to make permanent changes.

“I liked the DOMA decision,” said Kluwe, “Because obviously it extended federal benefits to married couples. Not a big fan of the Prop 8 decision, because while it allowed gays to be married in California as soon as they vacate the stay, the problem is, the Supreme Court had a chance to extend those rights across the entire country…whereas they could’ve made a statement.”

“They have a precedent,” he continued. “They have Loving v. Virginia—that says

marriage is a human right. They could’ve extended that out to say, ‘Same sex marriage, that is a human right, and you can’t discriminate against that.’”

Trying to keep realistic, he tied things up by saying, “So now we’ve just got to go to all the other states that—right now—gay marriage is illegal in, and get that passed.”

Earlier this month, in what could have been a media disaster, Kluwe shared a stinging truth (citing ex-New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s murder charges) in the following exchange with Conan O’Brien on the “Conan” show:

“Now what about the NFL? Where’s the NFL in all of this?” Conan O’Brien asked.

“They pretty much just left me alone,” Kluwe answered, “As long as you’re not out shooting people…”

Here’s the deal: straight allies often put their foot in their mouths, no matter how good their intentions may be. Chris Kluwe’s using his “big-mouthed” persona to our advantage. You just can’t hate on somebody for that.

Chris Kluwe loves World of Warcraft, loves the game of football, loves to raise consciousness and awareness, and is all about a message of transparency, fairness and equality.

In his “Larry King Now” appearance and his Out of Bounds blog, Kluwe rants on with this through line: if we are not honest with ourselves and protecting our own, our civilization is doomed. He simply won’t back down from the idea, and his new book likely puts that sentiment on full blast.

Well-played Chris Kluwe—and play on.

What’s your take on Chris’ mouthy antics? Do you think he’s trying to co-opt Gay Rights to get attention? Does that matter, either way? Wait…you’re too busy looking at his “Out” magazine cover spread, aren’t you?

Don’t leave us hanging, y’all—what’s the T? Let us know what’s on your mind, and you can holler at your boy Chris Kluwe @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter.

LGBT-Empowered: Shaun T Partners Up With Athlete Ally

‘Haters Cannot Touch My Shine:’ From Rockin’ Body to #Shaunspiration and Beyond

When we last checked in with Shaun T, we found him out, proud, and happily married, emphasizing equality by weaving positive social shares in with his personal life and daily goings on, on all fronts.  They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” even when you’ve created mind-numbingly hardcore workouts.

In the wake of his heartfelt story of love, celebrity fitness trainer Shaun T. continues to inspire and capture the imaginations of his fan base with his latest venture: signing up to be Athlete Ally’s newest celebrity ambassador.

Forging a unified front with celebratory tweets sent on July 11, Shaun T and Athlete Ally shared a graphic of a ripped Shaun T striking a workout pose.  With inimitable positivity in tow it reads, “Inclusion is essential in sports.  It can never be secondary.”

In the organization’s own words, “Athlete Ally is a nonprofit that empowers athletes to be role models and challenge homophobia and transphobia in sports.”

Founded in January 2011 by self-defined “straight ally” Executive Director Hudson Taylor (currently a competitive wrestler and coach at Columbia University), Athlete Ally is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization emulating the “gay-straight alliance” model.  The nonprofit brand emphasizes inclusivity and learning opportunities.  It has co-led educational awareness campaigns with athletes such as Olympic wrestler Ellis Coleman, NBA star Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), WNBA Player Kristi Toliver (Los Angeles Sparks) and more, while promoting Public Service Announcement multimedia awareness drives to honor sportsmen like Jason Collins.

Co-launched alongside their social media campaigns, Athlete Ally’s press release, also published on July 11, further explores the value Shaun T brings to the table.  In their release, Hudson Taylor continued, “It is a true honor to have Shaun T join the Athlete Ally Movement.  He is a catalyst for the inclusion and positive change that we are continuing to see in the venue of sports.  Another vocal, recognizable fitness and athletic personality on our team will undoubtedly help spread our message.”

While Athlete Ally also works closely with the National Basketball Players Association, the NCAA and the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center among many other prominent alliances, Shaun T continues to exert influence in the fitness world.

As one of Beachbody’s most prominent fitness coaches, he just launched his official Fly Fitness Wear line and released his FOCUS T25 program which continues to lead Beachbody to profits of $250-500 million yearly.

Shaun T has worked out with everyone from Dr. Oz, to Ellen to Tyra Banks and regularly does in-person meet and greets and worldwide in outreach for his Beachbody-trained coaches and fans.

In the press release mentioned above, Shaun T enthused, “The joy of feeling free to be oneself in all aspects of life is not something that can endure if there is an underlying stressor. The ability of an athlete to step into their arena and feel free to be 100% focused on competing in their sport is the catalyst which separates the elite from the dedicated.  This is essential to an athlete’s success—it cannot be secondary.”

Learn more about Athlete Ally at www.athleteally.org, and Shaun T’s official homepage can be found at http://shauntfitness.com.

Miami Heat Tim Hardaway First to Sign Equal Marriage Petition


Tim Hardaway the former NBA Miami Heat basketball star was the first to sign the Equal Marriage Florida petition on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.  He was embroiled in controversy in 2007 after an anti-gay rant on a Miami radio show. In an attempt at redemption he attended classes at the YES institute in Miami. The mission of the YES institute is “to prevent suicide and ensure the healthy development of all youth through powerful communication and education on gender and orientation.”  Hardaway also participated in a fundraising event for the Trevor Project in 2009.

Representatives for the group Equal Marriage Florida filed the required paperwork to begin the initiative to amend Article 1, Section 27 of the state’s constitution on June 21, 2013 in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA on June 26, 2013.

The definition of marriage in the Florida constitution was amended in 2008 after more than 60% of Florida residents voted for the Marriage Protection Act which states “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

The Equal Marriage Florida initiative proposes that Article 1, Section 27of the Florida constitution be amended to read “Only a legal union of two persons shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state.” The Equal Marriage Florida initiative also includes a religious freedom clause such that no religious organizations or representative would be required to officiate at a same sex marriage.  The petition is available on the Equal Florida Marriage Website.

The initiative requires one million signatures by February 1, 2014 in order to appear on the November 2014 ballot. If the group is unable to obtain the required number of signatures by this date they will be able to continue gathering signatures until early 2016. Some supporters believe that it would be advantageous to continue to collect signatures and wait until the 2016 election. In the year of a presidential election, more voters-particularly young voters who would vote for such an initiative would be expected to show up to vote.

In a related story it is being reported by many news media including the Miami Herald that Equality Florida sent an email to supporters with a press release seeking same-sex couples as plaintiffs for a lawsuit against the state.  In the press release, couples who may be interested are referred to the group’s Get Engaged website.  However no information about the press release is available on this website.

Gay Athletes and Their Fans Have A Lot To Be Proud Of


This spring has seen some high-profile athletes come out, but they aren’t the only ones.

With numerous reports about the American public being ready for a gay or lesbian professional athlete, they finally got a male one. In late April, Jason Collins, an NBA free agent who played with both the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards this past season, came out in Sports Illustrated. He is spoken of as the first out professional male athlete. In the world of hyper-masculine male sports, this is seen as a huge achievement, and that he will help make popular male-dominated sports more accepting and open of gay athletes.

Earlier in April, Alan Gendreau, a year-out kicker from the southern Christian college Middle Tennessee State, came out and announced his plans for kicking in the National Football League (NFL). A month later, Jallen Messersmith came out, and is believed to be the first openly gay player in men’s college basketball. He’s a shot-blocking specialist form Benedictine College, and his reasoning was similar to Collins and Gendreau: to make other gay athletes feel comfortable with themselves and that they are not alone in their sports.

However ground-breaking both of these men’s public coming out stories are the men seem to be a bit behind the women in American sports.

Lesbians have been out and about in pro sports for more than thirty years; they just aren’t as popular or as commended as the men are, as Buzzfeed  illustrated this week. Tennis had both Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King in 1981, Golf had Muffin Spencer-Devlin in 1996, Patty Sheehan in 1998, and Rosie Jones in 2004. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has Sue Wicks in 2002, Michele Van Gorp in 2004, Sheryl Swoopes in 2005, and three teammates from the Minnesota Lynx in 2012: Amber Harris, Jessica Adair, and Seimone Augustus. Volleyball has Stacey Sykora, and soccer has Megan Rapinoe and Lori Lindsey, all in 2012.

This year the WNBA added a new out member to their list who came out just weeks before Collins: Brittney Griner. She’s currently playing for the Phoenix Mercury, was the WNBA number one pick for 2013, and recently turned down the Harlem Globetrotters, deciding to focus on her professional career instead. She is considered to be the new face of the WNBA, and she is expected to have the chance to transform the WNBA and pull it out of its slump.

Bisexual women can look toward Jessica Aguilar, a mixed martial arts fighter who came out last year, and although an unincorporated territory of the U.S., has Orlando Cruz, a gay boxer who has been out since last year.

Some guess that the reasoning for the prevalence of women’s coming out is that because of the more familial attitude women have in athletics teams. Women already have to fight to be recognized as “true” athletes, and so they foster support for each other, and create a very welcoming space for all players. Both sexes have to contend with gender stigmas and stereotypes in their sports, because being too “masculine” or “feminine” isn’t acceptable.

Any athlete coming out is a huge step forward, especially for young athletes. With the amount of athletes coming out so recently, we’re seeing professional sports change and the attitudes of the American public evolving in all areas of our culture.

UK Soccer Stadium Welcomes Same-Sex Couples

A soccer stadium might not be the first place you think of for a same sex civil partnership ceremony,  but one of the leading top flight football clubs in the United Kingdom’s  north east ‘SUNDERLAND’  has just opened it’s doors to same sex couples who want to tie the knot!


The impressive and spacious ‘Stadium of Light’ became the unlikely setting for a true love match when two Black Cats fans scored a first for the venue on Friday 5th April.  Sarah Price and Heather Thompson, from Nettlesworth, County Durham became the first same sex couple to tie the knot at the stadium, which is home to Sunderland AFC,  when they exchanged vows in front of family members and friends earlier this month.


The couple, both of whom are keen Sunderland supporters, left no stone unturned ensuring the day was red and white – the clubs colours, from start to finish – even down to the wedding cake which was constructed from wheels of cheese wrapped in red and white wax, especially for the occasion!


“We’re both really big Sunderland fans,” said 27-year-old Sarah, who wore a grey suit and red shirt for the occasion, “and we were delighted when we found out we could hold the event at the Stadium of Light, particularly as my mum and dad bumped into former goalie Jim Montgomery when they arrived – they were over the moon.”


Their special big day kicked off with an emotional ceremony in the stadium’s Drumaville Suite before Sarah, a school sport partnership manager and Heather, a teaching assistant, headed to the hallowed turf to have their photographs taken next to one of the stadium’s most well-known characters, mascot Samson the Cat.


Afterwards they moved on to the dug out and the dressing rooms for more photos before re-joining their guests in the red and white themed suite for a wedding breakfast, later 150 of the couples friends arrived for an evening reception.   “It was just perfect,” said Sarah, “and we even kept the red and white theme going with our choice of honeymoon – we’re off to Canada.”

Coming Out No way In

The true story of why professional soccer player Robbie Rogers had to retired immediately after coming out as the UK’s only openly gay top flight professional soccer player.

It was only this February that the then Leeds play who has also represented the United States in 18 international football matches, opened his heart and revealed his true sexuality, then promptly walked away from the beautiful game. In his first interview for UK media since he came out, he explained his hurt, anger and how it is still virtually impossible for gay players to come out and remain in the game.

Robbie Rogers is a long way from home and the self confessed Californian dude who grew up playing soccer, surfing and going to church faces a somewhat uncertain future after his recent revelation which stunned many in the professional football world. “Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.” Robbie wrote on his website, “Secrets can cause so much internal damage,” Rogers wrote. “People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.”

As soon as those words were out there in the public domain, Rogers instantly became only the second gay footballer in Britain to ever publicly come out. The first was the late Justin Fashanu, whose experience after coming out was far from celebratory and positive. He faced a saver backlash from colleagues inside the professional footballing world and his family, including homophobic brother John, turned their backs, Justin took his own life in 1988, hanging himself at home in Shoreditch, London. Coincidentally, just a short walk from where Robbie Rogers now lives.

Since coming out, Rogers says he’s been besieged by large offers of money for expose type interviews and contracts, as well as moving emails from thousands of people who have thanked him or asked for advice on coming to terms with their sexuality. Last weeks interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper marks the first major interview since coming out and readdresses some of the issues his declaration raises. Not least the difficulties that professional sportsmen and women face when coming out publicly. “Football is an amazing sport,” Rogers says. “But it is also a brutal sport that picks people up and slams them on their heads. Adding the gay aspect doesn’t make a great cocktail.”

The interview poses the question what would have happened if Rogers had still been playing for Leeds when he came out? “That would have been interesting,” he says wryly. “I don’t think I would have been able to go training the next day. That would be so scary. The guys might have said, ‘That’s great, Robbie.’ Maybe. But because no-one’s done it and because of the things I’ve heard in the dressing room I just thought: ‘I need to get away from this – make my announcement, find peace, go from there.’ So I can never imagine announcing that at Leeds.”

Would it have been different if he were back in America? “No. Not at any club – anywhere.” He says emphatically. It is true to say that In almost all sport, especially at a professional level there is a certain about of bravado and banter, but even light hearted banter can be callous and hurtful, “There were different emotions.” Rogers explains when asked how he reacted when team mates made homophobic quips and jokes. “Sometimes I would feel bad for them. Sometimes I would laugh because it was kinda funny. And, sometimes, it got malicious.”

“That was when I would get this awful feeling in my stomach. I would turn my head and try to chat about other things. They often don’t mean what they say. It’s that pack mentality – they’re trying to get a laugh, they’re trying to be the top guy. But it’s brutal. It’s like high school again – on steroids.”

The fear of hostility from team mates is one issue that prevents more gay soccer plays from coming out, another would be the reaction from the supporters. “Maybe a lot of fans aren’t homophobic. But, in a stadium, sometimes they want to destroy you. In the past I would have said: ‘They don’t know I’m gay so it doesn’t mean anything.’ But, now they know it, am I going to jump in the stands and fight them?” Indeed homophobic chanting from the terraces is regular occurrence during many games up and down the country on a Saturday, despite various campaigns to combat homophobia in the sport.

Robbie Rogers

Rogers came to the realisation that “In football it’s obviously impossible to come out – because no-one has done it. No one. It’s crazy and sad. I thought: ‘Why don’t I step away and deal with this and my family and be happy?’ Imagine going to training every day and being in that spotlight? It’s been a bit of a circus anyway – but that would have been crazy. And you wouldn’t have much control because clubs are pushing you in different directions. I was just fearful. I was very fearful how my team-mates were going to react. Was it going to change them? Even though I’d still be the same person would it change the way they acted towards me – when we were in the dressing room or the bus?”

It would be incredibly powerful if a gay footballer could face down that hate and abuse – just as black sportsmen like Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali stood up to racism in America. “Sure,” Rogers says. “I’ve thought about that. I might be strong enough but I don’t know if that’s really what I want. I’d just want to be a footballer. I wouldn’t want to deal with the circus. Are people coming to see you because you’re gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: ‘So you’re taking showers with guys – how’s that?’

“If you’re playing well it will be reported as: ‘The gay footballer is playing well.’ And if you have a bad game it’ll be: ‘Aw, that gay dude … he’s struggling because he’s gay.’ Fuck it. I don’t want to mess with that.”

Thoughtfully when pressed on the possibilities of other gay footballers, Rogers says “No. Even now, one of my best friends said: ‘Do we know anyone else in football who could possibly be gay?’ And we couldn’t think of anyone. We’re such great actors because we’re afraid to let people know who we are. We’ve been trained by our agents how to do interviews, how to present ourselves. No footballer has since said to me, ‘Robbie, thank you, I’m gay too…’ I don’t know if anyone will.”

“I know things will change. There will be gay footballers. I just don’t know when and how long it will take. The next step is how do you create an atmosphere where men and women feel it’s OK to come out and continue to play? It’s a great question. Football has so much history. It’s a great sport with so much culture and tradition. But I’m positive there will be changes.”

The full interview can be read at The Guardian website here.