The Girl in the Pressbox: Speaking Out

Brittney Griner turned heads when she announced she was gay, shortly after being drafted into the WBNA. (Jeff Tuttle/Associated Press)

Brittney Griner turned heads when she announced she was gay, shortly after being drafted into the WBNA. (Jeff Tuttle/Associated Press)

Every social movement needs a face—someone behind it that is willing to take the cause and make a change. It takes people who are willing to stand up and say something is wrong in order to make it right.

It’s almost 2014, and I don’t understand how people can be so vehemently against people who are different than them. So many people stand against homosexuality and in sports, it’s often even stronger.

There’s progress, of course, when gay and lesbian athletes come out. Brittney Griner came out this summer, but that was after she felt pressure to keep silent in college. And as we all know, silence is the best way to make progress with anything, right? There’s no saying that Griner had to talk about it or divulge that personal information if she didn’t want to, but to keep her quiet about it? That’s just not right.

The attitude taken toward gay and lesbian athletes is discouraging. We need more, and that very well could be what we’re getting. The University of Connecticut women’s basketball could start a new trend of acceptance in college athletics.

The video the team posted a few weeks ago put four teammates on a united front for a cause they believed in. Each of them made a point to “Br(ache the Silence” in the video. The team is taking their stance and standing behind a cause they believe in. “Br(ache the Silence” is a campaign meant to challenge the attitude toward homosexuality in sports.

It’s refreshing to see a team—and not just any team, but we’re talking about the 2013 Division I champions—start a conversation about something they feel to be wrong.

In the sporting world, it’s already assumed that any female athlete is lesbian—which I think says a lot—but by no means does that mean that those carrying the stereotype are accepting.

Those four players had a message that they wanted to share with the world and I hope that they’re being heard loud and clear—anyone is welcome in their locker room. And for that matter, even if any of those athletes were lesbian, it wouldn’t matter. They play basketball. There’s nothing to say that they can’t do that based on a sexual orientation and that goes for any sport and any athlete for that matter. They know that. Now only if everyone else did.

Maybe this is the start this issue needs. It’s something that so many people have already been silent about and it takes a lot more than just a few people behind a cause in order to change the mindsets of millions of people. The right people, though, now that’s progress. I think the UConn women’s basketball could really be the names and faces that means true progress. Of course it’s only a start, but when more and more people stand vehemently on the side of acceptance and less and less vehemently against it, we will really start to see change.

Change starts somewhere, acceptance starts somewhere. That somewhere is with our generation. It’s with the people standing up and saying, “You know what, this isn’t right.” It’s those who don’t stand by and let others push those different from them around. Change is with the people with the courage to stand up, who do so fearlessly and without worrying about the judgments and assumptions that will be made about them.

Sports are powerful. As sports fans, athletes and reporters, we see it everyday in the world around us. It can be a really amazing thing the way sports can impact our lives. The reluctance to acceptance has gone on long enough.

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