While the search for the first openly gay active pro athlete in the big four American sports continues, there was a lot of good that happened for gays in sports in 2010. Many more athletes came out, many more straight allies came on board, and transgender athletes became big stories for the first time in a while.
This year five people or groups of people stood out from the crowd as particularly heroic. You can vote on the winner below, and be sure to leave a comment on why you voted the way you did – or someone you think we forgot. Also: Be sure to vote for our Jerk of the Year as well.
When we first spoke with Kye in April of 2010, he was scared to tell his basketball coach he is transgender. Six months later he decided to tell the world, opening discussions about transgender athletes where those discussions had never happened before.
Brian & Patrick Burke
With the death of Brendan Burke, his father and brother decided they would build Brendan’s legacy with their own fight against homophobia in sports. They have leant their voices to the cause, penning opinion pieces, appearing in gay pride parades, and helping to build a Brendan Burke scholarship with USA hockey.
Gay-Straight athlete alliance organizers
We’ve said for years that the real change isn’t happening at the professional level, but rather the collegiate and high school level. And much of that change is coming from gay-straight athlete alliances like the ones at Eastern Michigan, Yale, Michigan, and various other colleges and high schools.
When the LPGA told transgender golfer Lana Lawless that neither she nor any other trans people could participate on the tour, she took them to court. That resulted in an about-face from the LPGA and a change in rules. In 2011, Lana and other golfers like her will be welcomed onto the tour.
He didn’t do it for attention, but when the straight University of Maryland wrestler put an HRC sticker on his headgear, we noticed and wrote a story about the pro-gay athlete. Hudson used the new-found fame to preach his message of tolerance and start a new Web site, athleteally.com.
Honorable Mention: Jim Tressel (for talking to a gay publication and saying gay-positive things), Scott Fujita (for taking a stand for marriage equality), Gareth Thomas (for pushing for equality in European sports), and the athletes who came out of the closet publicly and did good with their new public personae (Andrew McIntosh, Blake Skjellerup, Maggie Manville, Austin Hendrix, etc…).