Next weekend I'll be in Indianapolis for the Men's Final Four. I'll be with some powerful voices in the LGBT sports movement, including Anthony Nicodemo, Jason Collins, Derek Schell, Wade Davis and Derrick Gordon.
With the signing of SB 101 by Gov. Mike Pence, legalizing discrimination against LGBT people in the state of Indiana, some have called for the Final Four to be moved. That ain't happening. Instead, we will head to Indianapolis and make a statement with our presence.
We don't take discrimination lightly.
To that end I will personally be doing four things while I'm in Indy.
1) Now that discrimination against LGBT people is legal in Indiana, I want to make sure I don't support any business that has an issue with LGBT people. As soon as I get off the plane I'll tell the taxi driver I'm gay and ask, "Is that OK with you?" If he so much as hesitates, I'll wait for another driver. And I'll ask him too. When I get to my hotel I will do the same thing. When I enter a restaurant for dinner I'll ask the host. And I'll ask the host to speak to the manager to ask her. And I'll ask my waiter. If any of them hesitate, I will leave and find a restaurant that doesn't hesitate to express inclusion.
2) I will also wear my #BeTrue gear throughout the weekend. From the shoes to the T-shirts, I want to make sure people I encounter know that I'm gay (in case they are in the 7% of people who couldn't tell). And I hope other LGBT people will find that reassuring, say hello, and join me with their #BeTrue gear.
3) I will talk with every single member of the media I can grab and ask them to write about this. Attending the Final Four this year isn't just about the Final Four, it's setting the stage for major sports events to vacate the state. If the NCAA, NFL, Big Ten and others don't pull their events out of Indiana, other states will be quick to follow with pro-discrimination laws of their own.
4) I am trying to track down the right Indiana-based LGBT group to offer my personal support while I'm there. Whether it's mobilizing a public meet-and-greet with the group one evening or simply sitting down and talking strategy one-on-one, I want to leave a lasting impression of support. Anyone have any ideas? I already reached out to Freedom Indiana.
I don't want this to be a blip on the radar, something we forget about a week after the Final Four. I want to help lay the seeds of a long-lasting battle over legal protections in Indiana. If anyone has other ideas on how to do that during the 72 hours I'm in Indy, I'd love to hear them below.