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HELLO

2021 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2021 $3.95 • COMPETESPORTSDIVERSITY.COM


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Diversity makes for a better cocktail party.


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 COMPETESPORTSDIVERSITY.COM

8

My First Sin City Classic

14 Professional Athletes Led the Way in Social Justice in 2020 18 2020 Gay Softball World Series Postponed to 2021 22

Chase Kinser

24 Team Onyx: First Entirely African American Adventure Racing Team 26 Courting Lendale Johnson: First Out Professional Black Tennis Player 28

Patricio Manuel: Simply Amazing

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Compete Sports Diversity Awards Turn 10

32 Jason Wright: First Black NFL Team President Leads a Cultural Shift 36 A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Lorena Benitez 38

Gym Bag

40

Calendar of Events

42

Dating in a Pandemic: It’s a Wrap?

46

Struggling with Motivation? You’re Not Alone!

Compete Online Do you love to Compete? Get with the game and shop our online store, subscribe to Compete Magazine, read the hottest news blogs and check out the latest videos online at CompeteSportsDiversity.com

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WITH YOU

The Year That Was and The Year That Will Be To say that 2020 was a challenging year may be a huge understatement for many of us. With so many sports being cancelled – and sports being our business – it was an especially hard time for Compete. But with an approved vaccine being distributed across the world, we are hopeful that the world is getting closer to a “new normal” where we are all able to participate in and to cover our favorite sports once again. This issue is a review of many important issues and people from 2020 and a look forward to 2021. We selected some of our favorite articles that serve to remind us of the challenges we faced and the progress we made. We have also included a couple of new pieces that focus on the future ahead. As you read this issue you will find articles on Black Lives Matter, rescheduling the Columbus Gay Softball World Series, tennis ace Lyndale Johnson, MVP Chase Kinser, reality stars Team Onyx and much more. We hope you like the articles we selected but also invite you to check out all our digital issues online at competesportsdiversity.com. As we look back, let’s also look forward together. A really Happy New Year to you from all of us at Compete.

With You,

THE GLOBAL LEADER IN SPORTS DIVERSITYTM PUBLISHER/CEO Eric Carlyle eric@competesportsdiversity.com COMPETE SPORTS DIVERSITY Editor-in-Chief Connie Wardman connie@competesportsdiversity.com Sports Editor Dirk Smith dirk@competesportsdiversity.com Community Editor at Large Ty Nolan ty@competesportsdiversity.com Art Director Heather Brown heather@competesportsdiversity.com Contributors Ryan Adams, Harry Andrew, Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, Matt Boyles, Ian Colgate, Ryan Evans, Jared Garduno, Heron Gonzales, Catherine (CJ) Kelly, Miriam Latto, Kevin Majoros, Ryan O'Connor, Brian Patrick, Jerry Del Priore, K.C. Wang-Daniels, Naomi "Bez" Zebro Staff Photographer Ariel Stevens ariel@competesportsdiversity.com Vice President Jared Garduno jared@competesportsdiversity.com Administration Bethany Harvat bethany@competesportsdiversity.com Director, Sales & Partnerships Trayer Martinez trayer@competesportsdiversity.com Jerilyn Hanhardt jerilyn@conpetesportsdiversity.com Copyright © 2021 MEDIA OUT LOUD, LLC All Rights Reserved. Compete Unites the World Though SportsTM All Mail PO Box 2756, Scottsdale, AZ 85252 • (800) 489-1274 Corporate Office 6991 East Camelback Road, Suite D-300, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 Compete is a trademark of Media Out Loud, LLC

Eric Carlyle (He, Him, His), SDLT Publisher/CEO eric@competesportsdiversity.com @CompeteEric

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Sports Diversity Leadership Council, Sports Diversity Leader and SDL are trademarks of Media Out Loud, LLC. Subscribe to Compete Magazine online at CompeteSportsDiversity.com


NEXT UP

20 jan./ Feb. 20

MY FIRST SIN CITY CLASSIC SPORTS FESTIVAL

S

BY MATTHEW BARKER

ports have been a pillar of my life. I’ve played baseball, high school football, volleyball, soccer and raced BMX. Currently I referee flag football, soccer and dodgeball, and I’m looking forward to competing at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and test myself on hard hikes in the Sonoran Desert. My mission is to inspire my generation (Gen Z) and the next to take care of their mental, physical and spiritual health while also coming together as a community. I came out publicly last May. It wasn’t easy but it was the most meaningful decision I’ve ever made. After a tough road of being isolated and sitting on the sidelines of life, I’ve found belonging. When I met Jared Garduno and had the courage to discuss my desire to pursue sports, fortunately, that one moment of courage has led to a sense of belonging. As I prepare for my first Sin City Classic my hopes are to connect with the gay sports community and spark a generational unity. This year I will be referring dodgeball at the Sin City Classic. Sports can now be a motif of pride in my identity and not one of secrecy. The Sin City Classic is a great celebration of what is but also a time when we can ask, what’s next? Who are we and how will we move forward in hope and solidarity? I’m blessed to be a part of this event for the first time. I can’t wait to meet the community and unite around our shared love of sports.

Matthew Barker 8 COMPETE january-february 2021


July/aug. 2020

CATBIRD

Black Lives DO MATTER: DARE TO DO MORE! There’s an important truism that says, “Change your mind and you change your life.” It’s simple but not simplistic: it cuts to the chase by removing all the excuses people make for not changing their lives. And it all starts with the mind! Things that happen in our shared world come from either a place of love or a place of fear. People who fear those who are different from them fear their way of life is being threatened. But rather than choosing personal growth and understanding by asking and learning about those differences, many choose to continue demeaning, humiliating, even killing others who are different – all this so their personal world view of faux superiority doesn’t have to change. Black Lives DO Matter (BLM)! And if this doesn’t reflect your current beliefs, thoughts, words, actions, emotions and memories, then I ask you to please pause and reflect on why you’re so fear-filled that you choose to support the idea and practice of systemic racism rather than supporting another human being’s right to equality. When an idea like BLM comes along, one that’s so well-articulated and its necessity so clearly demonstrated, it becomes a clarion call for humanity to support it. You’re being given the opportunity to put it into action. As more and more of us in both the gay and ally communities get behind it, its power is continuing to increase, enough to positively change the world we all inhabit. But it’s that action step that either makes or breaks the ability of an idea like BLM to become a global gamechanger. For individuals simply to profess a belief in racial equality isn’t enough, however – lip service doesn’t make things happen. Individuals have to apply their belief in the ideas and goals like those of the Compete Sports Diversity Council’s ideals of equality, diversity, inclusion, acceptance and leadership in their everyday lives. Positive results are achieved only when enough of us make courageous decisions to grow personally and to respect, support and mentor others around us in that same quest. So when you’re faced with a decision to make today, whether it’s on the field of sport, business or in your daily life, your personal choice counts more than you realize. Your choice to be accepting and welcoming of others, to play by the rules of fair conduct means you’re actively supporting good sportsmanship on every level – you’re helping to strengthen a very important idea by putting it into action in your personal daily life. Please join all of us at Compete in this global effort to eliminate racism, and let’s also work to erase transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, biphobia, acephobia and xenophobia. These are all fears that harm, even destroy people’s lives. Actively add your positive power by partnering with organizations and businesses from local-to-international levels that are doing what’s right, both on and off the field of life.

CONNIE WARDMAN, (she, her, hers) M.A., SDLT connie@competesportsdiversity.com

@CompeteConnie

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HIGH FIVE

5 HIGH

In spite of the life-changing events caused by the pandemic and global social unrest, LGBTQ+ and Ally athletes accomplished some great things this year to promote diversity, inclusion, equality and acceptance for all. Here are five selected from 2020’s High Five pages.

Photos courtesy of Richard Petty Motorsports, NASCAR & Getty Images.

NASCAR DRIVER BUBBA WALLACE, RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS & NASCAR … for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in several ways. Wallace, driving for the Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) team, worked with RPM on a Black Lives Matter paint scheme promoting racial equality, driving it first at the NASCAR Cup Series race on June 10. A graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and the only full-time black driver in their Cup Series, Wallace also has worked with NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at tracks. Saying the flag ban “felt like a win,” Wallace said this about being an athlete speaking up for equality: It’s definitely been a lot. It’s mentally taxing. But it’s that part of the pedestal that you sign up for. It doesn’t say that on the front page, the book of being an athlete or an icon of a sport. It doesn’t say that on the front page of what you have to go through; it’s just part of it. SAN DIEGO LOYAL SOCCER CLUB PLAYERS … for all walking off the pitch with a 3-1 halftime lead after an opposing player from Phoenix Rising FC directed a gay slur at openly gay player Collin Martin. They knowingly forfeited the game they were winning and lost a spot in the playoffs. JUSTICE MARTIN J. JENKINS, FORMER NFL PLAYER … for his unanimous confirmation to California’s Supreme Court, making him the state’s first openly gay justice and the fifth Black justice in the court’s history. With over 30 years of service as a state and federal judge, the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation said Jenkins is “exceptionally well qualified,” and that “he is praised for his brilliant intellect, first-class temperament, and boundless humanity.” Jenkins played briefly with the Seattle Seahawks prior to attending law school. THE NBA AND ITS PLAYERS … for launching a foundation to support Black Lives Matter and combat U.S. racial inequality by pledging $300M in initial funding for economic empowerment for the African American community through employment and career advancement. BRUCE ARIANS, HEAD COACH FOR NFL TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS … for being named 2020 Champion for Equality by the Women’s Sports Foundation. Arians, a two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year is an NFL trailblazer. In 2015 he hired the 1st female coach in NFL history while in Phoenix. In Tampa Bay he has the only NFL team with all-Black coordinators and multiple fulltime female coaches plus a female director of football research.

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COMPETE READER SURVEY & GRANDSTANDING GRANDSTANDING Cover Mail (Nov-Dec ‘20) I look forward to your Faces of Sports issue each year. I was really excited to see two covers this year! Both cover models are impressive. I think Cody Galloway-Braman’s story was inspirational and Tim Talty seems like the perfect ally. The only thing I would change is adding in more transgender athletes next year. Justin Ross Frisco, Texas

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT TEAM SPORTS BEING CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19?

30%

COMPETITION

25%

SOCIALIZATION

25% EXERCISE

20% OTHER

Seahawks Fan For Life (Nov-Dec ‘20) As I was reading your November-December 2020 issue I never thought I’d see someone that looks like me. But when I came across an article on Seattle Seahawks’ Keli Imus I was excited to see a female face staring back at me. I am not the type of person that usually gets excited but after reading this story, I immediately forwarded the digital copy to all of my friends. I’m now a Seahawks fan for life. Tammy Allen San Francisco Please submit all Letters to Compete via email to: letters@competesportsdiversity.com

www.Competesportsdiversity.com

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PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES

LED THE WAY IN SOCIAL JUSTICE IN 2020 BY CONNIE WARDMAN (SHE, HER, HERS)

athlete activism in 2020 it’s tough to narrow it down. But I’ve chosen two individuals and one league to highlight the impact athletes made this past year. My apologies in advance to the many other athletes, teams and leagues who accomplished powerful and impressive things!

Carine06 from UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Professional athlete activism not only came into its own in 2020, it turned a new page in the history of sports protests. While some of our social and civil unrest can be attributed to the pandemic that now has caused over 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since it began last year, it really has its roots in institutional racism. This is an inconvenient, even painful truth that hopefully we can address in some truly heart-based, respectful dialogue in 2021! But back to 2020 and the fact that because professional athletes have plenty of public exposure and large followings, they have a powerful platform to pursue social, racial and economic justice like never before. One of the big reasons for that is Colin Kaepernick’s willingness to take a knee and become, as I called him in our November-December 2020 issue, “A Catalyst for Social Change.” There are a couple of other factors at play here: certainly we all continue to evolve as individuals and as a society; the other is the unanticipated growing power of social media. While Kaepernick is certainly not the first athlete to stand up for what’s right, it’s social media that’s also moved things forward in a way never before imagined until recently. His kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, while meant to be a respectful protest of police brutality and racial oppression and injustice, created a huge national controversy on social media. Not long before the star NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback ruined his playing career by kneeling, he would have been “officially” fired. Instead he’s continued to exist in a strange netherworld where he’s still a free agent but hasn’t been placed with a team by the NFL since 2016. Thanks to real-time viral videos of police brutality, racial oppression and injustice and the powerful conversations they’ve initiated with the public, athletes are no longer under the tight control of team owners and big brands always looking to take the consumers’ temperature. Instead of being censured for speaking out against these problems, athletes are now being praised for it. There have been so many inspiring examples of

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NAOMI OSAKA – TENNIS One of the best examples of a new activist is 23-yearold tennis star Naomi Osaka, winner of her third Grand Slam title and selected as the 2020 Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. World Tennis Association (WTA) Chairman and CEO Steve Simon praised not only her playing ability but also her activism, showing how “athletes have an opportunity to use their platform for something bigger than the game or themselves.” It was during the pandemic-curtailed tennis tours that Osaka first had time to watch and read the news and see the suffering caused by the pandemic and also by the racial injustice going on. As a result she highlighted Black


victims of violence during the U.S. Open by arriving for matches wearing face masks bearing the names of Floyd George, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery and Philando Castile. When Jacob Blake was shot in August by police, Osaka joined athletes from the NBA and elsewhere in protesting it, declaring that she wouldn’t play in her semifinal match of the U.S. Open. And following her lead, the tournament actually shut down for a day. Osaka has called both Kaepernick and LeBron James positive influences for her, giving her the strength in her own convictions to do what she knew in her heart was the right thing to do.

In an interview with the AP, James had this to say: “The tragic death of George Floyd, everyone getting a chance to see that, and also hearing the story of Breonna Taylor, her tragic story, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia ... my people have had enough and I have had enough,” James said. “That’s why I called for action and with my platform, I believed I could get people to join me.” Also long known for his continued work to improve the lives of residents in his beloved hometown of Akron, Ohio, James’ I PROMISE school, opened in 2018 with grades third through sixth now has over 450 students. And when the pandemic closed the school, he and his team made sure hot meals were delivered to students’ homes, including complete Thanksgiving meals. There’s now an affordable housing project for 50 families that broke ground this year and plans have been announced for House Three Thirty (Akron’s area code) that will offer family financial health programming and job training as well as a community gathering space. James continues to pay tribute to the people he works with, the people at his foundation and the sponsors that continue to support them and what they do and strive for.

Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

By Erik Drost - https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88/39731134795/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/ index.php?curid=72882926

PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES LED THE WAY

LEBRON JAMES – BASKETBALL, LOS ANGELES LAKERS While LeBron James was named the Associated Press’ (AP) Male Athlete of the Year for a record-tying fourth time, his off-court efforts are still just as meaningful to him as his on-court plays. Saying that he wants to continue inspiring people with the way he plays basketball with the Los Angeles Lakers, James says there’s so much more he can do off the floor “to help cultivate people, inspire people, bring people together, empower them.” James has been a strong supporter of Black Lives Matter. And as voter suppression raised its ugly head during the 2020 election campaign, he started the More Than A Vote organization and gathered more than 42,000 volunteers to work at polling stations for the November election. Additionally, he and other NBA players worked to help Florida felons regain their voting rights by providing money to pay fines, pushed for turnout among Black and young voters and helped get stadiums set up as voting places.

WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (WNBA) On the league front, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) kicked ASS and took names! In June the WNBA and its players’ association, the WNBPA announced that they were dedicating their season to social justice with the formation of a new WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council. Led by players like Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally among others, their impressive

www.Competesportsdiversity.com

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PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES LED THE WAY agenda included plans to “educate, amplify and mobilize for action” to continue conversations “about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues,” according to their press release. It’s probably no secret why the WNBA has long been a leader in promoting social justice since according to the onlabor.org blog, the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals 83 percent of the WNBPA are persons of color; 67 percent are Black or African American; and while exact numbers aren’t known, “a substantial proportion of WNBPA player-members identify as LGBTQ+.” They and their family members have grown up facing discrimination. Given the current climate, the Social Justice Council decided to dedicate the 2020 season to Black Lives Matter and to Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police with a “Say Her Name” campaign.

But the women of the WNBA are smart! They’ve stood up against lots of bullies and realized what she was trying to do. In a phone conversation with Frank Bruni of the New York Times, veteran Seattle guard Sue Bird (fiancée of soccer star Megan Rapinoe) said she realized that Loeffler wanted to pick a fight with the league so she could get more attention for her campaign, bolstering her ultra-conservative views with conservative Georgia voters. “We had to find a better way,” Bird said. So the WNBA did to Loeffler what white people have done to many Black people; they refused to name her – they took away her dignity by making her a non-entity. They then began league-wide video calls with advisers that included Michelle Obama and political organizer Stacey Abrams to begin vetting potential political opponents they might support. As we now know, they settled on Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, not only a Democrat but also a pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church, the Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Naming someone is a powerful thing! It gives one a sense of personal identity, a sense of dignity. But when a person is killed and their name is no longer seen in the papers or heard on television, they can be dismissed as just another Black person shot. Sometimes for family it’s only by keeping that name alive that an investigation stays open, that family members get answers and, hopefully, justice for their loved one. So maybe it shouldn’t have been such a surprise when a WNBA team owner objected to it all, a person considered to be one of the league’s most influential voices.

Once they settled on Dr. Warnock, he addressed them by Zoom and, said Bird, all doubt was erased. “He stands for everything that we stand for. You could literally go down the line of all the things we care about, and we were aligned with him.” It was only days before everyone in the league started showing up for their nationally televised games with black T-shirts that now said, “Vote Warnock.” His campaign spokesperson said that within days following the start of the T-shirt endorsement, $236,000 flowed into their coffers.

Enter co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, millionaire GOP donor Kelly Loeffler, then an appointed senator from the state of Georgia who was running for election for her seat. Having hitched her wagon to Donald Trump’s, she even ran a political ad depicting herself as being politically right of Genghis Khan. Now she publicly ridiculed the league’s pledge for increased social justice support in 2020 and was disdainful about their decision to place “Say Her Name” on jerseys. She even wrote a letter to the WNBA commissioner opposing Black Lives Matter in the strongest terms possible. Here is part of her letter with falsehoods about the movement:

It’s not a spoiler to say at this point that Dr. Warnock won AND the one who shall remain nameless lost. But this wasn’t just any protest. As one who specializes in race, sports and gender, Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University called the WNBA’s campaign unprecedented. The tradition has been individual athletes supporting politicians. The difference here, she says is mass support due to the coordination, the strategy, the specificity of taking time to meet a candidate and then have the entire group back the candidate. Congratulations to the WNBA and WNBPA – you have opened a new chapter in the history of sports protests!

However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored antiSemitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country.

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Thanks to all you athletes out there, recreational as well as professional who worked to make 2020 a year that made things better for humanity in whatever capacity you had. Bless your individual and collective hearts!


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35 STATES 60 CITIES 450 LEAGUES 39 SPORTS MORE LEAGUES AND CITIES ADDED DAILY! WWW.USGSN.COM FOLLOW US ON ALL SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR THE LATEST UPDATES!

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BY ERIC CARLYLE (HE, HIM, HIS)

I was lucky enough to catch Gay Softball World Series (GSWS) 2021 executive director Dallas Aldridge during a short break from managing next year’s tournament. This year’s series has been postponed and I wanted to find out the latest details for all our softball fans.

July/aug. 2020

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ONE-ON-ONE Eric Carlyle: Due to COVID-19 the Columbus GSWS has been postponed by a year. What are the new dates? Dallas Aldridge: The rescheduled dates for the GSWS 2021 are August 30 - September 4. EC: W  ho is responsible for shifting back a year all three cities you already have scheduled – Columbus, Dallas and Minneapolis? DA: It really was a team effort. As you can imagine, an event this size has a lot of moving pieces and parts. The NAGAAA Board of Directors worked with the Host City Committees of the next three Series (Columbus, Dallas and Twin Cities) and the Sports Commissions from Columbus and Dallas to coordinate with contracted hotels and event spaces to make the shift possible. We’re glad it all worked out and we‘re excited to still have the opportunity to host the next GSWS. EC: C  an you please explain the process of rescheduling three future GSWS? DA: I should start by saying that one of the hardest decisions is whether to hold out and hope or to make the call to reschedule. We worked so hard and built anticipation around the 2020 Series, of course it was hard to get to a place where we said we should reschedule. Figuring out dates is the easiest part, which tells you how incredibly complex it all is. Rescheduling three Series simultaneously is an organizational tsunami. At any moment in time there are three cities working on different GSWS tournaments. It took an enormous amount of juggling dates, renegotiating contracts

and ensuring fields, hotels and event spaces were available, etc. It’s a lot of going back and forth. While we might all like to think of it as just a few games of softball, hosting the GSWS is complex from both an operations and legal standpoint. It took many texts and calls, hammering out all the details over several weeks to get to a solution that worked for all the cities and stakeholders involved. Layer all of that over our top priority – that our players, coaches, volunteers and fans are safe. It’s not an easy fete. EC: W  hat support did the Columbus Sports Commission offer the GSWS? DA: W  e are so fortunate to work with the best Sports Commission in the country. Linda Logan, the executive director and her team are best of the best, no question. From emotional support to tactical assistance with changing and juggling logistics and communication, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission was right by our side. We’ve been working together since 2008. When it comes to hosting a GSWS in Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission is not just a partner with us, they are a part of us. EC: What responses did you get from leagues and teams? DA: T  he overwhelming response has been very positive. While everyone wants to be back out on the fields playing ball, people have been very understanding and supportive. We’re really grateful. EC: And how have your sponsors reacted? DA: We are so fortunate to have incredible local and national sponsors that are on our side. They know

“We value the partnerships we’ve created within the City of Columbus and look forward to work with them to make this event a huge success.” ... John Deffee, NAGAAA Commissioner

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ONE-ON-ONE "The Dallas GSWS Executive Committee was unanimous in our support of doing whatever it would take to make sure the order of the awarded GSWS remained intact. I immediately reached out to our great partners at the Dallas Sports Commission, who assisted our team in the amazing collaboration with NAGAAA and Columbus GSWS in making it happen. During these uncertain times, we are certain that we have solidified great relationships with our local partners, who prioritize their relationship with NAGAAA and our values. We are excited to use the additional year to make an even bigger and better event which will celebrate NAGAAA's 45th Anniversary August 29-Sept 3, 2022 in Dallas, Texas!" … Ryan Holdhusen, Dallas the struggles that COVID-19 has presented to everyone. And to date, every sponsor has stuck with us, including Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam who joined us this year as title sponsors. That kind of support means so much to us. EC: What can players and fans expect in Columbus? DA:  I think players and fans have come to expect Columbus to always bring something new and exciting. We’re feeling the need to bring even more given the extra year we have to prepare. For now, we’re going to keep our cards close to our chest. We’ll have to chat again as we get closer to the 2021 Series. EC: What are you most looking forward to, Dallas? DA: T  here’s no doubt I am most looking forward to seeing all my friends I’ve made across all the NAGAAA Cities. I think seeing the first pitch will also be a special moment.

“The Twin Cities GSWS committee was happy to shift our event back a year. We were just about to sign our first contracts before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so we were lucky that there wasn’t a huge impact to us. We have dates identified for 2023 and have already started working with our partners in the Twin Cities.” … Greg Fedio, Twin Cities

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EC: How can people help support 2021 Columbus GSWS? DA:  It takes a lot of money to pull off an incredible GSWS. If you are able to financially support the 2021 Series, please make a donation. You can go to 2021GSWS.com and there’s a donate button right at the top. If you own a business and would like to sponsor the GSWS, that’s also an option. You can reach out to us via email: Dallas@2020GSWS.com. EC: Is there anything else you would like to add? DA: We have a fantastic community that rallies around both sports and inclusion. We would never be able to pull off this event to the level people have expected from Columbus without the fantastic committee members and volunteers. Without the support of over 600 people giving their time and energy, we would never be successful making this event possible. We are often our own worst critic. We have set the bar higher and tried to exceed the expectations of the participants. We try to innovate new ideas and try new things so some people start to expect the unexpected on what we might add or try to do with the event. Being able to host all the teams at one park is a tremendous part of the experience that is not usually part of the GSWS. It gives us ways to involve everyone together and create unique experiences during the week. We now have an extra year of creativity and focus to make the 2021 GSWS another memorable experience.


VisitTucson.org/Sports

ch ning team ready to mat in w dar aw an e nc rie Expe rfect facility. your event with the pe

A Variety of Venues with Off the Field Fun

100 HRC RA TING

Whatever the game, we’ve got a place for you to play. From preseason Major League Soccer to aquatics and cycling events, Tucson’s sporting venues can tackle it all. Take your play off the field and explore Tucson’s vibrant nightlife or indulge your culinary curiosity in a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. With over 300 days of sunshine, Tucson makes it easy to keep the game going.

Contact Luchie Javelosa LJavelosa@VisitTucson.org

www.Competesportsdiversity.com520.770.2129 COMPETE 21


Photos courtesy of Varsity Gay League

TEAM COMPETE MVP POWERED BY TALTY BAR

CHASE

KINSER TALTYBAR.COM

Name: Chase Kinser.

Favorite Athlete: Joe Thornton.

Age: 32.

Favorite Team: 49ers.

Hometown: Los Gatos, California.

Current Sport(s) Played: Kickball, flag football.

Interests/Hobbies: Cooking, talking chisme [gossip] with my friends, watching the latest hit TV show, playing with my dog, playing any type of game, sports, listening to podcasts, wine-tasting and planning my next adventure.

Relationship Status: In a relationship with my boyfriend of three years.

Best Physical Feature: Everyone seems to notice my butt.

Current Residence: West Hollywood, California

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sept./oct. 2020 Why You Love Sports: I love how sports challenge us physically, mentally and strategically. They have a unique ability to build bonds between strangers who just joined the same team or happen root for the same one. I see sports as a healthy, productive way for self-improvement, to build relationships in our community and to have fun. How You First Got Involved in Sports: I’ve played ever since I was a kid since it was mandatory in my dad’s family; my grandpa and uncle were both football coaches so there was lots of pressure to play. Other Sports Played Growing up: football, track, soccer and wrestling. In adulthood: flag football, kickball, bowling and soccer. I really want to take up golf so I have something to play +50.

TEAM COMPETE MVP POWRED BY TALTY BAR my best friends and my boyfriend through the leagues, so I am very grateful I joined. If given the chance, what would you tell/teach your younger self? And/or is there anything you hope to teach the younger generation that may be looking up to you? I don’t want to tell myself I should be have been out because I don’t think my team or I were emotionally ready to handle a gay teammate in the mid-2000s. I would tell myself that I am not less a person because of who I am. Those who fear gay people are doing so out of insecurity or to fit it. There are other people out there going through very similar struggles, and eventually you’ll meet them. You will have the resources and opportunity to find friends, love and community. Focus on school and being the best athlete you can be and it’ll all come together in the end. Be patient.

What’s Your Day Job: I work in supply chain at a medical device company. I’m also producing a fictional podcast.

I would tell the younger generation to do the same except if it is safe for you, be out.

Greatest Personal Achievement: I finally made Los Angeles my home after struggling for 10 years. I have a great group of friends, I love my job(s), my apartment, my boyfriend and my dog, Goose.

What are your future goals? I hope to be able to afford property in the L.A. area and have kids. That simple middle-class goal is rather expensive these days but I’m not giving up. I really want to coach my kid’s soccer team.

Greatest Athletic Achievements: I had the fastest 40-yard dash time junior and senior years of high school.

Please feel free to include any additional pertinent information you think would be of interest to Compete readers. There should be significant improvement to make LGBTQ+ people feel accepted in all sports environments. I look forward to the generational change needed in sports where all LGBTQ+ athletes feel safe in a locker room because we are safe; where cis-straight men welcome and don’t fear an intimate friendship with us like they have with their other teammates.

What’s your personal story? I grew up in a locker room and really struggled in middle and high school when I realized I was gay. I was forced to play sports because of the long tradition of males playing football in my family. I also happened to be strong and fast, so there was additional pressure on me to succeed. Even in a liberal, affluent area like Silicon Valley my teammates were very hostile to the mere threat of a gay person on the team. The worse insults were to call someone gay, and any time a teammate did something remotely effeminate, the rest of the team would immediately chastise him. I was surrounded by toxic masculinity. I spent most of my energy hiding any semblance of gayness, and it damaged my athletic achievements since I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t push myself or achieve my potential because I feared being found out. When I moved to L.A. I joined L.A. Flag Football and Varsity Gay League where I could just play without hiding. I felt significantly more confident and was able to succeed at higher levels and eventually captain elite teams in national tournaments (while winning a couple). I felt I was finally able to take back what I feel was stolen from me in high school. In a weird, way, playing in gay adult recreational sports leagues gave me peace. Additionally, I met most of

Many of the best gay athletes I’ve met avoided team sports due to its toxic nature. Like me, these individuals never hated the sport but rather the environment manifested inside the locker room. The only solutions I have are to teach kids that being LGBTQ+ is normal and that there is nothing to fear. If one of us gets the wrong signal and hits on you, then just politely say no.

www.Competesportsdiversity.com

COMPETE

23


20 jul./aug. 20

FACES OF PRIDE

Photographer: Poby, Credit: Amazon Prime Video

TEAM ONYX FIRST ENTIRELY AFRICAN AMERICAN ADVENTURE RACING TEAM BY CONNIE WARDMAN (SHE, HER, HERS) Mark your calendars for August 14! It’s not only the worldwide debut of the “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” on Amazon Prime Video, it’s also the debut of Team Onyx, the first entirely African American adventure racing team representing the U.S. while competing on an international stage. The five-person team includes both gay and straight competitors from the east and west coasts and from middle America. If you’ve been depressed over the lack of sports due to Covid-19, this 10-episode series definitely will be a welcome respite from sports reruns. Filmed in the fall of 2019 prior to onset of the pandemic, the "World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji" is hosted and co-produced by celebrity survival expert Bear Grylls, famous through his survival series, “Man vs. Wild” and “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.”

Sixty-six teams will race non-stop, 24-hours-a-day for 11 days across some of the most beautiful but rugged, unforgiving terrain Fiji has to offer. They’ll race 417 miles through dense jungles, steep mountains, winding rivers, treacherous oceans and dangerous swamps. And while the teams are racing against each other for prize money of $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000 for first, second and third finishers, their biggest competitor is actually Mother Nature!

ABOVE L-R: CHRISS SMITH, SAM SCIPIO, CLIFTON LYLES, MIKAYLA LYLES, COREE AUSSEM-WOLTERING

24 COMPETE january-february 2021


FACES OF PRIDE

Fun Fact: Out of the three African Americans who

Photographer: Idris Solomon, Credit: Amazon Prime Video

are on have competed in Primal Quest, two of them this team.

Photographer: Poby, Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Photographer: Corey Rich, Credit: Amazon Prime Video

L-R: COREE WOLTERIN, CHRISS SMITH, CLIFTON LYLES, MIKAYLA LYLES

L-R: CHRISS SMITH, COREE WOLTERING, CLIFTON LYLES

Skills each team member is required to have include outrigger paddling, mountain biking, rappelling, climbing, whitewater rafting, paddle boarding and canyoneering. Team members receive a list of certifications they’re required to have prior to arriving in Fiji. And once there, they all must pass assessment tests before beginning the race to ensure they’re fit for the challenge. As far as the racers are concerned, wheeled transportation doesn’t exist for this competition. All navigation is done only by map and compass, and teams are required to use expedition problem-solving skills to reach the finish line. If for any reason a team member quits the race or is unable to complete it, the entire team is disqualified. Testing the limits of their physical and mental endurance, the only hope a team has of finishing this latter-day quest to become a Super Hero is to be able to work together under absolute extreme stress and fatigue. Each team, racing under a single country flag, is made up of four competitors that includes at least one member of the opposite sex as well as an assistant crewmember who helps their team from base camp. With a total of 330 elite men and women athletes, they represent 30 countries that

CHRISS SMITH

include the U.S., Australia, U.K., Japan, Russia, Mexico, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Turkey and Canada. The camera work is as stunning as the scenery. In order to adequately capture this constant movement, the Biggest Adventure Race Production team consists of almost 700 people from 21 different countries. That includes a technical crew of 109 (zone/embedded ops, field producers, sound, etc.) from all backgrounds, including adventure racing. Grylls mentioned the diversity of the competitor field, including Team Onyx as the first fully African American team competing internationally. Noting how difficult it is to see racers dropping out after spending so much time and energy in preparing for it, “I unashamedly wept at times,” he said, “ seeing the effort and what it meant to these people.” The executive producer of “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” is Emmy Award-winning producer Mark Burnett of “Survivor” and “The Voice” fame. So, did Team Onyx survive to the finish line? I’ll never tell – you need to watch it on Amazon Prime Video starting on August 14!

www.Competesportsdiversity.com

COMPETE

25


ONE-ON-ONE

20 sept./oct. 20

Lendale Johnson may not be a household name … yet. But as the world’s first out

gay professional tennis player, he’s starting to make waves on the court. He’s also an actor, model, entertainer and he’s now hosting a new reality TV show, “Deuces and Love” that’s bringing awareness and education about civil rights for Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ community. You’re sure to see and hear more about him as his star continues to rise. Eric Carlyle: Congratulations, Lendale – It’s really exciting to know that tennis now has its first openly gay professional player! How old were you when you started playing tennis? Lendale Johnson: I was about seven.

Photo courtesy of Christian Coleman

EC: How did you get started in tennis? LJ: My dad and I would go to the community park in Kalamazoo, Michigan to play basketball with everyone. I wasn’t a big fan of basketball as a kid but I looked up to Michael Jordan as he was a black professional star athlete. There were some slum tennis courts next to the basketball courts and I fell in love with tennis from there on.

EC: Who is your favorite professional athlete? Michael Jordon still or maybe a tennis player?

COURTING

LENDALE

JOHNSON: FIRST OUT PROFESSIONAL BLACK TENNIS PLAYER BY ERIC CARLYLE (HE, HIM, HIS)

26 COMPETE january-february 2021

LJ: Definitely Venus Williams. I watched her win Wimbledon on TV in 2000 and I was just so inspired and amazed. That was a few months before I turned 14. On the ATP Tour I’m always rooting for Djokovic.

EC:  Lendale, please share your coming out story with our readers. LJ: You could say I fully came out right after high school. My family knew but I wasn’t comfortable at all with it. It’s something I knew not to talk about around most of them. Deep down, I know my grandma on my mom’s side was OK with it, so that was comforting. There’s a ton of homophobia in the black community and being a double minority has been and still is very difficult to navigate.


Photo courtesy of Al Cooley

ONE-ON-ONE

EC: How did your professional tennis career get started? Well, things really began to kick off for me when I moved from my small town to Chicago. There was so much diversity there it was much easier for me to find other pros to train with. I attended Harry S. Truman College and trained in-between studying. My first professional tournament was in 2013 in Calabasas and right after Costa Mesa. That was my first time ever in California and I was beyond excited and nervous. Thank God my friend, Mike Weekley lived there: he’s the drummer for rock band, Dirty Machine. Funny story. I ran into former tennis star, Taylor Dent in the Players Lounge. I was so star struck because during the tournament he would see me and totally say, “Hey Lendale, how’s it going?!” I felt so cool – Taylor Dent remembered my name. Then I ran into Disney’s star sister act, Aly & AJ while I was dining, I took a photo with AJ and finally got flown back to Chicago by a sponsor I got blessed with.

" You could say I fully came out right after high school. My family knew but I wasn’t comfortable at all with it. It’s something I knew not to talk about around most of them. Deep down, I know my grandma on my mom’s side was OK with it, so that was comforting. There’s a ton of homophobia in the black community and being a double minority has been and still is very difficult to navigate." Although I was only an extra, I was a featured extra and since my face was around media, many people instantly recognized me and freaked out. It was really crazy. I had a flood of DMs from family, fans and classmates from high school that I didn’t really talk to. It was weird hearing from them but if you know me, I’m usually down to earth so I probably said thanks or something. Most recently I was featured in Vogue Italia this summer; that was a dream come true. I haven’t done any more acting lately because I’ve been so busy with my reality show and other projects. But we’ll see. I’m mainly focused on professional tennis; it’s a short-lived career. Being an actor doesn’t have an expiration date so that can wait. EC:  What advice would you give to someone just starting out in tennis? LJ: I ’d say get a great coach like me, haha! But seriously, just take your time when hitting the ball if you’re a beginner and be aware of your racquet face opening up too much. I see a lot of beginner players fly balls all over because of that. It can easily be fixed.

A lot of people don’t understand Photo courtesy of Al Cooley EC: What else would you like to share with how ridiculously expensive it is to play professional Compete readers, Lendale? tennis if you’re not ranked inside the top 100 in the world. I ran out of money, so I’m very lucky to have LJ:  I’m so proud of Billy Porter and all the talented had sponsors. When I got back to Chicago I coached LGBTQ+ actors/actresses on” POSE.” They all tennis for a bit and was back in the clear! deserve an Emmy. EC: Tell us about your modeling/entertainment career, Lendale. LJ:  Tyra Banks followed me on Twitter after I did a runway interview for America’s Next Top Model Cycle 21. Miss J called me “Fierce” too, so after all that I was completely full of belief. Lee Daniels acknowledged me as well when I began my acting career on Empire Fox in 2015; that was for season 1.

EC:  Knowing how busy you are, Lendale, I want to thank you for taking time to talk with me. And I think I speak for all our readers when I say that we’re so proud of you and all you’re doing, not only in sports but also as one of the upcoming leaders in inclusion, diversity, equality and acceptance for us all!

www.Competesportsdiversity.com

COMPETE

27


FACES OF SPORTS

PATRICIO MANUEL: S I M P L Y

BY IAN COLGATE (HE, HIM, HIS) We first heard about Patricio “Pat” Manuel from the Olympic Channel in 2017 when they contacted us to write about their mini-series entitled “Identity.” The miniseries chronicled the journey of six transgender athletes, including Manuel. Each segment of “Identity” lets the athletes do the talking by sharing their personal insights and journeys. You also hear from family, friends, coaches and teammates who share intimate views of how each athlete has grown and prospered as an individual as well as the impact that athlete has made on them, helping them to learn, understand and grow. The focus for all the athletes featured in “Identity” is about their love for sport and how it impacts their personal identities. The one constant in each athlete’s life has been sport. No matter what else they might have faced day-in and day-out they could always count on the love for their sport to carry them through even the hardest of times. This, in fact is a struggle most athletes can relate to. Sport is just as much an integral part of an athlete as is being straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Facing an even greater struggle to become whole than most, asking a trans athlete to give up one part of the self to pursue another, essentially sabotages the quest for wholeness. But Manuel’s story started long before his appearance in “Identity.” Pat was born Patricia Manuel in 1985. Patricia was a natural fighter and by 2012 she was ready to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team — it was the first time the sport had been open to female boxers. Shortly before the match Manuel injured a shoulder but decided to fight in the bout anyway. Immediately the injured fighter knew she would not be able to win the match due to the injury. Manuel knew that his Olympic dreams were over, but in that moment his new dream began to take shape! He found the courage to begin his transition. The transition initially took four years to complete and by 2016 he was ready to fight. This time he was fighting as his authentic self, a man. That year he became U.S. Boxing’s first transgender male to compete in a boxing match and Manuel won that match. Fresh from his win, Manuel took on another opponent but lost this time around. In fact, he lost big; Manuel sustained a serious injury. To make matters worse, some of the other boxers refused to fight Manuel because he was a transgender athlete. But two years later Manuel competed in his first professional bout in 2018. After two years negotiating with the California Boxing Commission, the state finally authorized him to fight as a man and Manuel took the ring against Hugo Aguilar. Manual won the match in a unanimous decision at the end of the fourth round. He set another first—the first transgender man to win a professional boxing match. Following that win Manuel was tapped by Everlast, the leading manufacturer and licensor of boxing, mixed martial arts and fitness equipment to be a company spokesperson. The company had created an inclusion campaign and Manuel was a perfect fit. The iconic boxing brand had previously used the faces of such distinguished boxers as Jack Dempsey and Sugar Ray Robinson and now Pat Manuel’s face joins theirs as part of what Everlast calls a part of its “new crop of trailblazers.” In May 2019 the San Francisco 49ers launched their first official fan club for the LGBTQ+ community and supporters to talk about the importance of LGBTQ+ activism in sport. As one of the speakers, Manuel said that the advocacy of LGBTQ+ athletes must come from everyone. "I ask each of you to fight with us to make sure that we have a place, not only in sports but in the world," Manuel said. "Don't deny others the chance to change their lives, because I wouldn't know who I am without sports." Manuel describes himself on Facebook as a fighter, consultant and speaker, consciously constructed Being and old school with a new twist. I’d describe him as a trailblazer and as simply amazing.

PATRICIO MANUEL Photo Crredit: Aswadhin, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

28 COMPETE january-february 2021

A M A Z I N G

nov./dec. 202 0


NEW EVENT AT SIN CITY CLASSIC

COMPETE SPORTS DIVERSITY AWARDS TURN 20 jan./ Feb. 20

It is hard for me to believe that it’s been ten years since Compete celebrated its first Sports Diversity Awards, an annual celebration that has allowed us to honor those who are helping to create a truly level playing field for all athletes. I remember our first award just like it was yesterday. In 2010 we honored just one winner, swimmer Michael Holtz. Michael was our third Athlete of the Year and it was an honor to have diver Greg Louganis present the award to Michael in Los Angeles. Greg was amazing—gracious, confident and charismatic. What else would you expect from a winner of five Olympic medals – four gold and one silver. We founded Compete (originally Sports Out Loud) in 2006 because we loved sports and were committed to supporting diversity within the sporting community, one of the last bastions of accepted homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. These awards have continued to allow us to honor those who are helping to create that level playing field for all athletes who want to play. Over the rest of the decade we’ve honored recreational, professional, national and international leagues such as the National Football League (NFL), Major League Soccer (MLS), Major League Baseball (MLB), North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) and the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). Also included have been awards to some professional sports teams who have made real changes to sports diversity, like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Cardinals and Colorado Avalanche. But our biggest happiness is to honor individual athletes, such as professional athletes like Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers, Scott Norton, Gus Kenworthy, Billy Bean, Ryan O’Callaghan and Sue Wieger. But we especially love honoring our LGBTQ+ athletes like Mark Bingham, Chris Mosier, Sam Lehman, Cyd Ziegler, Molly Lenore, Helen Carrol, Allison Jones, Kirk Walker and so many more. In the past ten years the Compete Sports Diversity Awards has landed in cities such as Phoenix, Tempe, Los Angeles, Bel Air, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City and now for the first time, Las Vegas. Las Vegas is special to us because we get to celebrate our 10th Anniversary as part of the Sin City Classic. It’s been such a great year we’re already planning to be back in Vegas as part of the Sin City Classic next year for anniversary number 11.

30 COMPETE january-february 2021


FACES OF SPORTS

nov./dec. 2020

J A S O N W R I G H T: FIRST BLACK NFL TEAM PRESIDENT LEADS A CULTURAL SHIFT BY HERON GONZALES (THEY, THEM, THEIR) Sports diversity still has many glass ceilings to shatter signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in April but former NFL player Jason Wright shattered a big one 2004, he was cut so the team could reach its 53-player earlier this year to become the NFL’s first Black team regular season limit. Following his time with the 49ers president in the league’s 100-year history. Wright was signed by the Atlanta Falcons to their active The Washington Team has been mired in chaos roster. He made his official NFL debut in December 2004 and controversy for years. Not only is Wright’s hiring but was waived the following September. an historic moment for the Black community’s upward mobility but for the Native American community, the Less than two weeks after leaving the Falcons, Wright long-contested offensive team logo and nickname are found his way to the Cleveland Browns. Wright played now gone, and for women employees past and present, with the Browns through the 2008 NFL season and then allegations of workplace sexual signed a two-year deal with the harassment are now being taken Arizona Cardinals. At the end seriously. of that contract he refused a Only 38 years old, Wright multi-million-dollar extension is not only the youngest NFL and officially retired as an NFL team president, he’s also just player. He knew it was time to one of four former players develop some of his other gifts. to hold this position. He has After leaving the NFL made it clear that a cultural Wright enrolled at the transformation of the entire University of Chicago’s team is underway, one that will Booth School of Business. He enhance and expand the value of graduated in 2013 with an the franchise. He truly believes MBA focusing in operations in transparency and inclusion and finance and joined the as well as accountability and international consulting firm realizes he’s an agent of change All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/ McKinsey & Company as a licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons for Washington. partner in Operations Practice Wright is in charge of the where he served as a diversity team’s business operations and inclusion consultant. He has been considered a and that enables coach Ron Rivera to concentrate on “business whiz.” decisions made on the field. The two men are expected to In his personal life Wright and his wife, Tiffany are have a strong working relationship based on their positive considered to be very generous. They have four children: longtime relationship that goes back to Wright’s NFL two biological children and two women now in their playing days. mid-twenties (they joined the Wright family as struggling Wright was an athlete from early on and played football and track at his California high school. His family teenagers and each have a child) and they also have two grandchildren. Wright says the family works to make the was working class and Wright has often talked about the world a better place. work ethic his family instilled in him. Following high The Washington Football Team made sports diversity school Wright attended Northwestern University where history twice in 2020 —once by renaming its team and his athletic performance was strong enough to earn him once by hiring Wright as president. Good choices all the Bobby Bowden Award presented by the University’s around. Now that the ceiling is officially shattered for the chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the first time in the NFL’s 100-year history, we are excited to Second-team All-Big Ten Awards in 2003. see the next Black president take his, her or their place Although Wright was not drafted by the NFL after college, he would go on to play seven NFL seasons. Initially alongside Wright in NFL history.

32 COMPETE january-february 2021


20 jan./ Feb. 20 Photos courtesy of Sin City Classic Sports Festival

34 COMPETE january-february 2021


nov./dec. 2020

FACES OF SPORTS

THOUSAND WORDS BY K.C. WANG-DANIELS (SHE, HER, HERS)

When the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA) recently announced its partnership with Los Dogos and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) I got really excited. As a huge soccer fan I was excited to learn that the AFA backed an LGBTQ+ friendly futbol (soccer) club. I got even more excited when I found out that IGLFA was planning on holding its outdoor World Championship in Argentina in 2024. That excitement drove me to learn more about the AFA and Argentine players. Of course, I knew all about my favorite Argentina national footballer, Lionel Messi, but I wanted to check out some women players. In my research I found Lorena Benitez. When I checked out her Instagram page I discovered much more than an athlete. I also discovered a partner and a mother. Her social media stats are impressive. With nearly 100,000 Instagram followers, Benitez is certainly a social media influencer. But what impressed me the most were the stories her photos told. They tell a story of an out athlete with power, strength and agility. A strong woman. Also, a sensitive, caring mother. A loving wife. What drew me to Benitez was the fact that she is an openly gay female player. Being out in women’s sports can be complicated, especially in countries like Argentina. But it is becoming easier, thanks to athletes like Benitez. She is currently a midfielder for Boca Juniors and the Argentina women’s national foot team. She also plays on the Argentina women’s national futsal team—an indoor

36 COMPETE january-february 2021

"BEING OUT IN WOMEN’S SPORTS CAN BE COMPLICATED, ESPECIALLY IN COUNTRIES LIKE ARGENTINA" sport similar to soccer. Before doing my research on Benitez I had not heard of futsal before. Benitez’s timing is perfect. The AFA is investing in women’s sports. Last year the Argentina women’s national football team played at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. And just this year the AFA announced a plan to develop a women’s professional premier league. Even during the pandemic the AFA wants to be sure to continue its bold plan to enhance women’s football. I highly recommend you visit Benitez’s Instagram page (@benitz.lorena4) and get a glimpse into her life. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In Benitez’s case a picture is worth a lot more.

Leandro Ulloa, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

A PICTURE IS WORTH A


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EVENTS: FOR A COMPLETE CALENDAR OF EVENTS PLEASE VISIT WWW. COMPETESPORTSDIVERSITY.COM Compete is excited to bring back our sports calendar! We will be updating our calendar in each issue and online as tournaments and events are confirmed. For the latest updates check out competenetwork.com. LEXUS INTERNATIONAL GAY POLO TOURNAMENT

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40 COMPETE january-february 2021

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BEDROOM SPORTS

20 jul./aug. 20

DATING IN A PANDEMIC: IT’S A WRAP?

BY RYAN O’CONNOR (HE, HIM, HIS), GUEST COLUMNIST

I was at the supermarket the other day and noticed the PIN pad was covered in plastic wrap. Hmmm … I thought to myself. How in the world does covering a PIN pad with plastic prevent the spread of coronavirus? I mean sure, I guess it protects the actual PIN pad from COVID-19 but I don’t think it will help any of us using a debit card to pay for our groceries. Then I wondered if wrapping prospective dates in plastic would make dating during this pandemic any easier? The idea certainly takes safer sex to the next level. Since most social gathering spots are closed for the foreseeable future, I decided to check out my old standbys — online dating services. I quickly changed my profile name to “Bubble Guy 90210” and insisted that all prospects must agree to full on body wrap if we decided to meet. To my surprise, there is such a thing as the “plastic wrap” scene. Guys actually enjoy being wrapped up in plastic or wrapping others. My profile had more activity in the two days following my update than I’ve had all year! I decided to reply to each and every guy that had responded to my plastic profile. I explained that I was doing research for this article and that I hadn’t expected any replies. To that, most of the guys still wanted to meet — as long as I was up for some plastic wrap fun. As tempting as that offer was, I decided that I’d rather wait and meet in-person when the pandemic is over. One eager fellow followed up to let me know that he only practices safe sex — he never wrapped the nose or mouth out of safety concerns. That made me feel better but I think I will stick to plastic on the PIN pad. By the way, please don’t wrap yourself up in plastic. I think following CDC guidelines and wearing a mask in public is a much better idea.

RYAN O’CONNOR is just a regular guy who is dating in this great big world. His advice comes from personal experience and his advice is for entertainment purposes only. We recommend you consult a physician, counselor or therapist in your area for specific advice about your personal situation. Otherwise, questions can be submitted to bedroom@competesportsdiversity.com

42 COMPETE january-february 2021


CONNECT WITH COMPETE: • Read The Latest LGBTQ+ Sports News • Find LGBTQ+ Sports on our LGBTQ+ Sports Calendar • Discover Current & Past Issues • Subscribe to Compete


WHO WILL BE OUR 2021 ATHLETE OF THE YEAR? SELECTION COMMITTEE

Ryan O'Callaghan Former NFL Athlete

Lendale Johnson Professional Tennis Player

Nikol PiĂąon-Salvador 2020 Mark Bingham Athlete of the Year

Keli Imus Community Engagement Manager Seattle Seahawks

Eric Carlyle Compete Sports Diversity CEO

SELECTION CRITERIA > Commitment to personal achievement. > Active participation in an individual or team sport. > Commitment to supporting/encouraging others in sports. > Commitment to the LGBTQ+ sporting community and/or the LGBTQ+ community.

To nominate yourself or a deserving amateur athlete online go to CompeteSportsDiversity.com


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Come be you in St. Pete/Clearwater, where we’re proud to boast a 100% equality rating for inclusivity and embrace the entire LGBTQ+ community. Discover welcoming accommodations, 35 miles of America’s Best Beaches and sporting events made just for you. So whether you’re an athlete, a fan, or just looking for an escape—St. Pete/ Clearwater has got you covered.

VIBRANT STREET ART Artist: Taj Francis

AMERICA’S BEST BEACHES

FLORIDA’S LARGEST PRIDE


FOCUSED ON WHAT MAT TERS EMBRACING HUMANITY. PROTECTING THE PLANET. At MGM Resorts International, we feel it is important to respect each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s differences. We choose to embrace these differences to achieve best-in-class experiences and cultivate stronger ties with our guests, employees, neighbors and partners. We are committed to stand up to issues of equality and aim to better unify our world. Learn more at MGMRESORTS.COM/FOCUSED.


Profile for COMPETE Magazine

January - February 2021  

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