Gwen Samelson, an artist and business consultant who lives on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, was so enamored to hear about the three openly gay high school athletes who started a blog that she has set up a Facebook page to try and get them on the "Ellen" show.
"Brad, Robert and Ben for ELLEN the Generous" is name of the Facebook page Samelson formed this week. Samelson, 53 and a lesbian, told me of her motivation in starting the group, which already has 65 members:
I was touched by the courage these boys showed by starting their blog - and thought - heck if Betty White could get a guest host spot on "SNL" through a grass-roots Facebook campaign, Brad, Robert and Ben should be able to get on "Ellen." The choice to splash your name all over the Internet - "I'm a gay jock" - when you live in "anywhere" America is courageous, and they deserve to get a spot on Ellen. ...
I lost a lot of my gay brothers over the years. Young men who were just like them - good, decent, hard working, wonderful people... I hope they get ample support and caring treatment - helping to launch them into great, wonderful and healthy lives, playing sports and living as OUT gay men, and lots of applause on Ellen!
Brad Usselman, one of the bloggers, is a cross-country runner in Vancouver, Wash., and a huge "Ellen" fan, who told me that to dance on the show is one of his goals. I am not sure whether the other bloggers -- soccer players Ben Newcomer and Robert -- are also "Ellen" fans, but Samelson's idea is cool. I already joined the group and hope many others do, even if it's a long-shot.
The blog, Walk the Road, is already making a difference and empowered Brad, Robert and Ben. A new blog written by another out gay high school athlete is starting (I'll write about that later). Brad, Robert and Ben have posted submissions from a college swimmer and from a fraternity brother at Mississippi State, along with original poetry and posts about training. They have also received numerous comments, e-mails and Facebook messages from other gay teens.
They have been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, received an inquiry from the Associated Press for a possible story and have been asked to write about teen bullying by another gay website. Brad participated in the filming of an anti-bullying video at school, and is in touch with Pat Griffin about being involved in GLSEN's sports project. Not bad for the blog being public for two weeks. Here's hoping they become so big that "Ellen" will have no choice but to have them on.