BOSTON — Four of Boston University’s largest dormitories surround the school’s soccer stadium.
For eight days, the more than 2,000 students in those four dorms and many other BU students and faculty were exposed to a message of LGBTQ inclusion that the soccer stadium’s video board broadcast all day.
The video board messages were the most visible way Boston University Athletics celebrated its first Pride Week from Sept. 22-29.
“When I walk on campus, these cards and pictures are being posted onto our big soccer jumbotron,” Boston University runner Johnny Kemps said. “We are here, and it’s OK that we’re here. That’s what I see.”
Kemps, who is gay, is one of 18 BU athletes from a variety of sports to give quotes of LGBTQ acceptance that the university displayed throughout the week on the video board and its social media accounts.
Boston University Athletics showed its support of the LGBTQ community by declaring its first Pride Week and during the week holding three Pride Nights — matches by the field hockey, women’s soccer and men’s soccer teams.
Of the 18 BU athletes to show support for the LGBTQ community, Kemps was the lone openly LGBTQ athlete part of the Pride Week campaign.
“I got nothing but great feedback,” said Kemps, a senior captain on the cross country team.
Pride Week: Johnny Kemps
“Since coming out, and now being an out LGBT athlete here at BU, I found not only acceptance, but also a team that performs best together. We all know each other, we all love each other, and that’s how amazing things happen.” #GoBU #ProudtoBU #WhoWeArePosted by Boston University Athletics on Wednesday, September 26, 2018
The quote Kemps gave BU Athletics to promote Pride Week said, “Being a LGBTQ+ student-athlete means competing for something bigger than yourself. Every time I step on the track, I race for those who are still building up the strength and courage to live authentically.”
The 5-foot-11, 150-pound Kemps describes himself as a perfectionist. He said it took significant time to determine what to say that could help a closeted athlete or student.
“I thought about that and how I felt back then (before coming out), and what it was, I was building up strength and courage to live authentically,” Kemps said.
Kemps, whose hometown is Southlake, Texas, came out to his Boston University teammates once he arrived as a sophomore. He began his college career at Boston College, and he started coming out to Boston College teammates his second semester of freshman year. Kemps said the reason he left Boston College for Boston University were “heavily athletic related.”
Boston University’s LGBTQ acceptance continues to impress Kemps. He helped BU put on a Pride Night at a men’s basketball game last winter, but BU athletics brought the idea of Pride Week to him.
“We want to celebrate diverse opinions and the inclusivity of our department, so right from the get-go, it’s something everyone was on board with,” said Nafeesa Connolly, BU assistant director for marketing and promotions.
In addition to the athletics department’s support, Kemps appreciated that three of his cross country teammates participated in the Pride Week promotions.
“I’m so proud to see them featured,” Kemps said. “I see them every day, and it’s good to hear their thoughts on what it means to be an ally. I think that’s so inspiring.”
Johnny Kemps is a senior captain on the cross country and track and field teams at Boston University, which is a Division I school in the Patriot League. He can be found on Instagram @JohnnyKemps.
Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBTQ. Results are for competitions that took place Sept. 17-30.
Matt Aronson (senior, Wisconsin men’s diving) finished third on 1- and 3-meter springboard to open the season Friday against Wisconsin-Green Bay. He scored 279.67 on 1-meter and 315.9 on 3-meter. Wisconsin won 182-107.
Xavier Colvin (redshirt junior, Butler football) recorded a tackle in Saturday’s 24-21 win for the Bulldogs (3-1 overall) against Morehead State.
Scott Frantz (redshirt junior, Kansas State football) started at left tackle in both games the last two weeks as the Wildcats (2-3 overall) went 0-2. Kansas State’s game at Baylor on Oct. 6 is scheduled to be broadcast on FS1 at 3:30 p.m. ET. Kansas State’s game against Oklahoma State on Oct. 13 is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU at noon ET.
Abbie Hetherington (redshirt senior, Oklahoma State women’s cross country) completed Friday’s 6-kilometer Wisconsin Invitational in 21 minutes, 59.7 seconds. She finished 40th of 116 runners in the B race.
Johnny Kemps (senior, Boston men’s cross country), Matt Kravitz (junior, Lehigh men’s cross country) and Michael Mitchell (sophomore, Lehigh men’s cross country) competed at the Sept. 21 Battle in Beantown and Saturday’s 8-kilometer Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh. On Sept. 21 out of 214 runners, Kemps came in 85th in 25:42, Kravitz finished 77th in 25:35, and Mitchell took 124th in 25:59 with Boston 10th and Lehigh 16th of the 23 teams.
On Saturday out of 359 runners, Kemps finished 170th in 26:04, Kravitz took 137th in 25:50, and Mitchell came in 174th in 26:05 with Lehigh 17th and Boston 25th of the 41 teams. Harrison Knowlton (senior, Middlebury men’s cross country) and Tucker Meijer (senior, Amherst men’s cross country) also competed at Saturday’s race. Knowlton finished 144th in 25:53 helping Middlebury take 20th as a team, and Meijer came in 112th in 25:42 as Amherst took 22nd.
Dawson LaRance (redshirt freshman, Minnesota men’s cross country) finished 68th in 26:12.5 during Saturday’s 8-kilometer Griak Invitational in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. In his first college 8-kilometer race, he helped the Gophers finish second as a team in the 15-team field.
William Mansfield (senior, Washington men’s golf) shot 19-over-par to tie for 43rd at the 72-hole Husky Invitational on Sept. 25-26. He helped the Huskies win the 12-team invite.
Ryan Signorino (senior, St. Bonaventure men’s cross country) ran a personal record of 29:58.7 for 8 kilometers at the Anderson Invitational in Rochester, New York, on Sept. 22. The Bonnies finished fourth of 21 teams.
James Finley (head coach, Seattle women’s volleyball) led the Redhawks (8-8 overall) to a 1-3 record the last two weeks.
Simon Thibodeau (head coach, UCSB women’s tennis) saw three doubles teams win their brackets at the Cal Fall Invitational at Berkley, California, on Sept. 28-30.
Arman Bashiri (senior, Bloomfield men’s soccer) scored both goals in Bloomfield’s 3-2 loss to Holy Family on Sept. 22. He started all four games the last two weeks as the Bears (1-7 overall) went 1-3.
Noah Ratliff (senior, Mercyhurst men’s water polo) recorded a goal and an assist in Mercyhurst’s 17-6 win against Monmouth on Sept. 22. The Lakers (11-4 overall) went 4-1 the last two weeks.
Jake Van Ittersum (junior, Northwood football) started at left guard in both games the last two weeks as the Timberwolves (0-5 overall) went 0-2.
Zach Johnson (freshman, MIT men’s cross country), Harrison Knowlton (senior, Middlebury men’s cross country) and Tucker Meijer (senior, Amherst men’s cross country) competed at the 8-kilometer Purple Valley Classic in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on Sept. 22. Johnson finished 25th in 26:39.4 during his collegiate debut to help MIT get fifth. Knowlton took 18th in 26:32.6 to help Middlebury place third. Meijer came in 22nd in 26:35.9 as Amherst finished fourth.
Nick Lee (senior, Vassar men’s tennis) opened the fall season with a two-set win at No. 5 singles and an 8-0 win in No. 2 doubles against Bard on Sept. 22.
Josh Moeckel (senior, Utica men’s cross country) finished 240th in 35:09.8 during Saturday’s 8-kilometer Saratoga Invitational in Saratoga Springs, New York. Utica took eighth in the 14-team field.
Wyatt Pertuset (junior, Capital football) caught two passes for 22 yards and punted four times for 182 yards in Saturday’s 45-17 loss to Baldwin Wallace. Pertuset was named the Ohio Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.
Eva Bower (sophomore, Milligan women’s soccer) recorded a shutout as Milligan beat Montreat 2-0 on Sept. 22. The Buffaloes (3-5-1 overall) went 1-2 the last two weeks with Bower in goal for two matches.
Cliff Hastings (head coach, Parkland women’s volleyball) and Ron Hoppe-Hastings (assistant coach, Parkland women’s volleyball) led the No. 2-ranked Cobras to a 9-0 record the last two weeks. Parkland (34-1 overall) has won 18 consecutive matches.
Erik Hall can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @HallErik or Facebook. If you are an out LGBTQ athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.