Brendon Ayanbadejo joins Athlete Ally to fight homophobia in sports

Brendon Ayanbadejo at the Super Bowl - USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Raven is the latest NFL player to join the pro-LGBT group

Brendon Ayanbadejo, a longtime gay rights advocate and linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, has become the latest pro athlete to join Athlete Ally. Ayanbadejo joins Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe in joining Athlete Ally, the group started by former college wrestler Hudson Taylor to combat homophobia in sports.

"Athlete Ally is about respect and ensuring people the opportunity to be themselves," Ayanbadejo said in a release made by the group this morning. "There’s nothing more fundamental than that when it comes to football."

He, along with Kluwe, will act as a liaison with the NFL and speak out about gay rights issues in sports to players, management and fans. Both men have been very outspoken on the issue in the past year and are great spokesman for the cause, being very articulate and passionate. Both are also in the NFL playoffs this year and have wild card games this weekend.

Here is the full release from Athlete Ally:

Athlete Ally, the leading organization working to raise awareness about and end homophobia in sports, announced today that National Football League Player and Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo will join the organization’s Ambassador program. This news follows last month’s announcement that Minnesota Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe, whose team will also be heading to the playoffs, has aligned with Athlete Ally as well.

The Ambassador program engages athletes across the country to speak out and encourage athletes, coaches, and fans to challenge homophobia in sports. It launched in 2010 with collegiate athletes.

"The Athlete Ally Ambassador program is about leaders having important conversations," says Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "Brendon Ayanbadejo doesn’t shy away from what he knows is right. He’s a fearless leader in everything he does and we are thrilled to have him on board".

Brendon said of his joining the program: "Athlete Ally is about respect and ensuring people the opportunity to be themselves. There’s nothing more fundamental than that when it comes to football."

Former New York Ranger and Athlete Ally Board Member Sean Avery added: "When athletes like Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe align with Athlete Ally through the ambassador program, they aren’t just raising awareness, they are setting examples for every kid, parent, coach and fan in America."

Brian Ellner, who led the Campaign for New York Marriage and who serves on the Athlete Ally Board of Directors, added: "Brendon Ayanbadejo’s vocal and unwavering support for marriage equality played a key role in our recent election victories in Maryland and elsewhere. His work with Athlete Ally will have a dramatic impact on shifting the climate in professional sports."

As an Athlete Ally Ambassador, Ayanbadejo joins Kluwe - another longtime advocate for LGBT equality - and scores of college athletes who have already signed on. Ayanbadejo, like Kluwe, will be a liaison between the organization and the NFL, help promote Athlete Ally’s mission to end homophobia in sports by speaking out to his team, league and fan base, and encourage his colleagues to join in the effort.

Ayanbadejo’s participation in the Ambassador program reflects his commitment to equal rights. Ayanbadejo has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality since 2009 and stood out as a critical voice in the 2012 elections.

Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked about his longstanding commitment to player conduct pledges and also, how he protected his gay brother from bullies growing up. Goodell's story is another example of why the Athlete Ally mission is in synch with the goals of the NFL. Goodell was profiled on the cover of Time Magazine.

About Athlete Ally

Athlete Ally is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging athletes, coaches, parents, fans and other members of the sports community to respect all individuals involved in sports, regardless of perceived or actual sexual-orientation or gender identity or expression. Athlete Ally calls on the athletic community to use its status and influence to help stop anti-gay bullying by championing respect, camaraderie and inclusion in sports.

To contact Athlete Ally: hudson@athleteally.org.

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