As the sports world mourns the death of New York Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra at age 90, it would be fitting to remind people that he was a supporter of gay athletes. When Jason Collins came out in 2013, Berra was asked his opinion:
"Respect the game, respect others -- that's what I always learned in sports," Berra said in a statement released by the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. "Whatever background or whatever you are, it doesn't matter. Treat everyone the same, that's how it should be."
He went one step further that year when he signed on to be an ambassador for Athlete Ally, which champions straight allies of LGBT people in sports. The reasoning was simple:
"We thought this was very natural for us," said Dave Kaplan, director of the Yogi Berra Museum. "It's an extension of what we do programmatically."
The museum works closely with student athletes, engaging them in conversations about bullying, hazing and the locker room culture. The focus hasn't been specifically geared toward gay athletes, but the parallels are there. Fear of negative backlash could, as Kaplan said, "make them more reticent to come out."
The museum named after Berra hosted gay former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean in August to talk about his life as a gay man in the sport. Though they are from two generations, I am certain Berra would have been proud to have Bean as his teammate.