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Sports Illustrated honors Brendan Ayanbadejo for his gay rights stance

Brendon Ayanbadejo is well-known to Outsports readers for his strong advocacy of gay rights. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker has been a vocal supporters of gay marriage for years and was part of the successful campaign for marriage equality this November in Maryland. His stance is now getting a wider audience, thanks to Sports Illustrated.

In its Sportsman of the Year issue (with LeBron James on the cover), the magazine highlights 10 "athletes who care," detailing those in sports who make a difference and take on causes. Ayanbadejo was selected for his support for gay rights. The article is not online, but here is an excerpt:

The Baltimore locker room isn't quite there yet. When three fundamentalist teammates staged what Ayanbadejo called "an intervention," he whipped out (a pro-gay marriage letter from a) minister. When teammates use an expression like "that's so gay," he'll get in their faces so reliably that many now reflexively add, "Sorry, B.A.!"

And some Ravens tease him over his high-profile role, calling him the Gay Ambassador. "I know I'm on the right side of history," he says. "We'll look back 20 or 30 years like we look back on slavery or [the lack of women's] suffrage, things that we've done throughout history that are completely wrong and weren't considered wrong."

Ayanbadejo has no tolerance for those who talk about "tolerating" LGBT people. "You tolerate when somebody is smoking a cigarette around you. For me, acceptance is the big word. I preach acceptance," he says.

His Twitter feed is a must follow and I love how he engages those who disagree with him by retweeting what they write to him; he has no compunction about calling them out. To one follower who tweeted him: "if you seriously believe that there is anything natural about homosexuality you must be crazy," Ayanbadego replied: "You are the epitome of dumb."

Hats off to Ayanbadejo for getting recognition for standing up for what is right. He is a tremendous ally to gays and lesbians in and out of sports.