Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.
Various sports, 1998. Every woman who plays sports is queer, so it's gotta be easy being a lesbian athlete, right? That was the prevailing myth that pervaded sports (and largely still does). But it was Pat Griffin's Strong Women, Deep Closets that brought the plight of lesbian athletes at every level to the forefront in a groundbreaking book.
Griffin has been one of the world's strongest advocates against homophobia in women's sports for three decades. In 1988 she published a paper titled, "How to identify homophobia in women's athletic programs." For years she has worked with the NCAA and various colleges to bring sensitivity to gay issues to athletic departments (and you will see her name mentioned throughout this list). In 2007 she was named one of the 100 most influential sports educators by the International Sports Institute. She currently heads up GLSEN's Sports Project 'Changing The Game,' which targets homophobia in K-12 athletics.
But it was Griffin's Strong Women, Deep Closets that launched her work into the public spotlight. All of her research, from 15 years speaking publicly on the topic to interviewing lesbian athletes and coaches, went into this seminal work on homophobia in women's sports. She dove into the history of sports in America and the role masculinity has played in it. The book revealed the culture of the closet that a vast majority of lesbian athletes still live in today. And maybe most importantly, Griffin outlined in the book's final chapter various keys to undermining the homophobia she had laid out so eloquently.
Few people have worked more tirelessly against homophobia in sports; Everyone would benefit from Griffin's insights in her groundbreaking book.
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