The Last Closet launches, aims to open closet doors for gay pro athletes

For the last two years, award-winning filmmakers Dee Mosbacher and Fawn Yacker have had their targets set on homophobia in men's pro sports. The producers of the acclaimed documentary Training Rules, which targeted homophobia in Penn State's women's basketball program, have brought their filmmaking expertise to the movement with a video-based campaign set to bring more and more voices to fight homophobia. The result is their latest project, The Last Closet. You can read their full announcement here.

At the core of their work is a series of targeted campaigns, the first of which aims to get video statements of the commissioners of the five big pro sports leagues -- MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL and NHL -- saying they will support an openly gay active athlete in their league. They've tried for over a year to get commitments from the five commissioners, and they've been rejected each time. Their hope is to enlist readers like you to contact these commissioners and ask them to vocalize their support for pro athletes who want to come out of the closet.

From Yacker, the project director:

It is imperative that our sports leaders speak out. We need the rallying cries of all who know the power of sports to demand that silence is not an option. For the 30-40% of gay youth who attempt suicide*, for any young person struggling with their sexual orientation, having a gay sports hero will make a world of difference.

Already they have some powerful voices contributing to the dialogue, and their site contains very strong resources for the fight. One of my contributions to the campaign was to bring these two powerful women along with me when I interviewed Michael Irvin for the Out magazine cover story over a year ago. They recorded my conversation with Michael, who speaks as powerfully on the topic as anyone I've ever heard. One of my favorite pieces is when he talks about African-Americans supporting or opposing marriage equality (video below). His comments are deeply powerful. You can see the entire interview here.

Other insightful and powerful video interviews they have featured include Billy Bean, Howard Bragman, Patrick Burke, Ben Cohen, Gwen Knapp, Robert Lipsyte, Hudson Taylor and Esera Tuaolo. You can see all of these videos and many more at thelastcloset.org.

They can't get the voices they're looking to recruit without your help. So please visit their site, email the commissioners, and donate to their fantastic tax-deductible 501(c)3 project. Video statements -- see the person's face and hearing his voice -- are deeply powerful, and the supportive statements of these commissioners can help pave the way for that first openly gay active pro athlete.

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