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2019’s Winners and losers in LGBT sports

Each week since May, Outsports’ managing editor has selected big stories from the past week of LGBTQ sports coverage. Time to wrap it all up.

Time once again for Outsports to stop the clock for an instant reply, and this time it’s of the year that was. For 28 weeks since May, this has been my way of memorializing each week’s glorious victories, the ignominious defeats, and the players and personalities who made them, lived them or just couldn’t avoid them.

I realize my roster may differ from yours, and I welcome your comments, contributions and critiques. I read them all! Details on how to reach me are below, after this look at 2019’s winners, losers and hopefuls.

Winner: Chris Mosier

Back in May, I chose trans duathlon athlete as our very first winner.

Clockwise from top: Chris Mosier, Kiké Hernandez, Caster Semenya, Zach Montes, Megan Rapinoe, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, USA Powerlifting, David W. Almasi, Lars Sullivan (aka Dylan Miley), Rep. Greg Steube, IAAF, Paul Bossi

Mosier was the first out transgender athlete to earn a spot on Team USA. Mosier spoke out that week in support of Caster Semenya, another one of my first-ever winners.

“Instead of her speed being treated as a gift, it’s being treated as something that is giving her an unfair advantage,” Mosier told Hill.tv about Semenya losing her fight to compete without medical intervention. “The problem is we are setting ourselves up in a position where we are policing and regulating women athletes in sports.”

Loser: Israel Folau and every homophobe who plays sports

Israel Folau’s name will not go down in history as one of Australia’s greatest rugby players, as it should have. Instead he will forever be known as the superstar who lost it all, because he ignored the second commandment given by his most revered religious icon: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The devout Christian had been warned to lay off the anti-gay social media posts in 2018, and for almost a year, he did. But come Easter season 2019, Folau shared a “warning” on Instagram to all “sinners,” including gays, that they would burn in hell lest they repent.

Folau was one of my first losers back in May, but by forcing Rugby Australia to settle his lawsuit for wrongful termination, reportedly for millions, he ultimately claimed vindication.

Winner: Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon has a new YouTube show, and stints on TV, as he transitions careers in front of the camera. The Olympian wants to leave his skating career behind and forge a completely new media career.

“I want to break away from being ‘the skater,’” he said, “and I’ve been working hard to do that.”

Who is the Outsports Person of the Decade? Click here to see “The Outsports 20” list

Loser: Nick Symmonds

Olympian Nick Symmonds weighed in on the Caster Semenya case and basically threw intersex athletes under the bus.

The renowned LGBTQ ally, who protested Russia’s anti-gay laws, by dedicating his silver medal to gay fans, has surprised many declaring fellow Olympian sprinter Caster Semenya should not be able to run against women. As it turned out, Semenya was banned from competing in July, unless she consented to mandatory drug intervention to lower her naturally-high level of testosterone. She continues to fight that policy in a court in Switzerland. Symmonds’ last words on the topic, standing by his statements on intersex athletes and adding that transgender women athletes should also not be able to compete as women, are in a YouTube video that’s been viewed 13K times.

Winners: LGBTQ Dodgers fans

The Los Angeles Dodgers did up LGBT Pride Night to the nines on May 31, with Pride flags flying at Dodger Stadium.

”For the first time ever at Dodger Stadium, the LGBT flag flies alongside the American flags,” the Dodgers tweeted prior to the game with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tennis legend and LGBT icon Billie Jean King, a part owner of the team, said she “couldn’t be more proud of the welcoming, inclusive space the Dodgers are creating for all their fans.”

LGBT Night drew the biggest crowd of fans for any Dodgers game since 2012 en route to selling a record number of tickets specifically for the LGBT Night package.

The Dodgers told Outsports that an estimated 12,000 fans attended the game specifically because it was the team’s LGBT Night. The team sold out of its LGBT Night ticket package and many LGBTQ fans bought regular game tickets to attend the game.

LGBT Night also drew the biggest crowd of any Major League Baseball game this season. Dodger Stadium has the largest capacity of any MLB stadium.

Loser:Rabbi Yehuda Levin and his band of anti-gay protesters

Ultra-orthodox Jewish and Catholic protesters demonstrated outside First Energy Park in Lakewood, N.J., on Thursday, June 6, in opposition to Saturday’s Pride Night game being held by the Lakewood BlueClaws, the city’s Minor League Baseball team.

The 50 anti-gay protesters who showed up at the demonstration were drowned out by 200 counter-protesters carrying rainbow flags, banners and signs, saying ‘Love Trumps Hate.’ They also played music and chanted messages including “Bigots Go Home” and “Let’s Go Gay!” according to Patch.com.

The protest was peaceful as uniformed and plain-clothes police kept the groups separated by a busy street. A BlueClaw sign outside of the stadium read “Baseball is for Everyone” with the team’s logo upon a rainbow background.

Winner: CeCê Telfer

Franklin Pierce senior CeCé Telferwon the 400-meter hurdles on May 25 and went on to post victory by more than a second, in a personal collegiate-best time of 57.53 seconds, according to the university website. Her finish was two seconds shy of the NCAA Division II record. As far as we know, she is the first publicly out transgender woman to win an NCAA track & field title.

Telfer would go on to win Outsports Female Athlete of the Year.

Loser: Beach Volleyball Players at the Gay Games

The Gay Games eliminated competitions in billiards, vertical running, mountain biking and, most surprising, beach volleyball to make room for two new sports at 2022’s Gay Games 11. The Hong Kong-hosted competition will include dodgeball and esports for the first time.

The decision follows recent trends within international athletics, LGBTQ and otherwise. Esports has become a multi-million dollar industry featuring top-level LGBTQ athletes across multiple disciplines, such as Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, who is our 2019 Outsports Non-binary Person of the Year.

Winner: Gritty

Twitter: @GrittyNHL

Philadelphia held its “largest ever” Pride Parade through Center City. And amidst the usual menagerie of floats, costumes, and celebration, a bit of news emerged that marked one of the most exciting developments to hit Philly’s LGBTQ community in the past year:

Gritty is an ally.

The Philadelphia Flyers are one of many NHL teams to enter their city’s Pride Parade. And in 2019, they decided to up the ante on the rest of the league by making hockey’s most popular mascot front and center.

Losers: The Rose Bowl and Concacaf and those who chant “puto”

Both the Rose Bowl and Concacaf allowed the anti-gay and homophobic “puto” chant on June 15 as many as 50 times, according to video and people on Twitter. The response by both Concacaf and the stadium to try to stop the chant were designed to fail and simply pay lip service to people trying to stop the discriminatory behavior.

Winners: The New York Yankees and everyone LGBTQ

On a special night celebrating the legacy of Pride, the New York Yankees dedicated a permanent addition to Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park, a tribute to the LGBTQ community. On it, a plaque reads: “In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the events at New York City’s Stonewall Inn which sparked the modern LGBTQ movement, this plaque serves to honor the struggle for equality, and is a reminder of the richness we gain by nurturing inclusion and diversity. Acceptance forms the bedrock of our community, and let it be known that Yankee Stadium welcomes everyone as a gathering place for all.” Five New York City high school seniors who are active in their communities were the recipients of the first Yankees-Stonewall scholarships of $10,000 each. Prior to the game, the team’s front office, Major League Baseball’s Billy Bean and New York City’s first lady gathered at The Stonewall Inn to present the awards to the students who represent each of the city’s five boroughs. One student identifies as transgender, and another as queer, but because they are not out, they wore a mask to the ceremony. Kudos also to the California Angels of Anaheim for holding their first Pride night, with Billy Bean in attendance.

Losers: The only two MLB teams without a Pride night this season

The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have honored their LGBTQ fans at least once in their past, but not last season, and not in 2019. They’re the only 2 teams in Major League Baseball without some kind of game on their schedule connected to LGBTQ community.

Winners: The USWNT, Megan Rapinoe and Out LGBTQ Athletes

Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle scored a goal each to hold onto their crown, defeating a formidable Netherlands team 2-0 and securing America’s fourth Women’s World Cup championship. The win makes the U.S. the first team to win back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles since Germany did so in 2003 and 2007. New York City honored the women with a ticker tape parade in Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes. The match was the second to feature two female managers in a Women’s World Cup final: American manager and out lesbian Jill Ellis and The Netherlands’ Sarina Wiegman. The match pitted the two teams with the most LGBTQ representation in the World Cup field. At the ESPY awards in Los Angeles, the women were honored with an award for best team and Alex Morgan won Best Female Athlete.

Loser: Outsports

Five trans women athletes criticized Outsports for including tennis icon Martina Navratilova in our “Stonewall Spirit” series. “Outsports seemingly not only broke ranks with trans athletes in recognizing Navratilova,” wrote Christina Ginther, “many felt violated by its long-standing ally who intertwined the kudos given to the tennis icon with the symbolic and deeply meaningful Stonewall Rebellion.” Ginther interviewed Outsports cofounder Cyd Zeigler. ”I am so sorry. It was a mistake to call it ‘Stonewall Spirit,’ Zeigler told Ginther. “In hindsight we should have called it something else. We just wanted to recognize LGBTQ athletes who made an impact in sports. For 20 years Outsports has been committed to being an ally and supporter of trans inclusion. Again I am so sorry.”

Winners: The District of Columbia Aquatics Club

A swimming club from Washington, D.C. cleaned up at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics world championship meet in New York City in late June, reported the Washington Blade and Swim Swam. The District of Columbia Aquatics Club joined some 900 aquatic athletes — more than half of them swimmers — competing in Queens, while World Pride celebrations tied to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots were underway in Manhattan. The masters swimmers of DCAC, formed in 1988 by members of the Washington Wetskins, broke 17 IGLA world records and won 137 medals: 82 gold, 28 silver and 27 bronze.

Loser: The so-called Gay Footballer

The Twitter account @FootballerGay had garnered about 50,000 followers since he posted his initial message on July 5 that said he was a professional soccer player in the English Football League and would be coming out publicly. The Twitter account and its claims raised the hopes of many who believed that we would finally see another Championship or Premier League player on the pitch during matches. We haven’t seen one in over two decades. On Tuesday, he deleted the Twitter account. We have to now deal with the fact that this was, in all likelihood, never true.

Winner: Toni Pressley

29-year-old Toni Pressley of the Orlando Pride underwent successful breast cancer surgery in August. After treatment with team sponsor Orlando Health, she was cleared to work-out with her team 4 weeks post-op. She returned to the pitch to a standing ovation on October 12.

Losers: Colorado Rockies and Coors Field management

A Coors Field employee cited stadium policy against ‘not appropriate’ PDA when she spotted a lesbian couple ‘casually’ kissing. Their tweets got them an apology and free tickets.

Winners: out gay NFL players

When the NFL kicked off its 100th season we felt that was a good time to honor the contributions of the men who have been openly gay and bi and played in the league. Outsports co-founders Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler noted that number grew to 13 when former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Ryan Russell came out as bisexual on Outsports and ESPN. Last year, former Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer came out as gay after marrying his partner. While Russell identifies as bi and is dating a man, the other 12 identify as gay. These openly gay and bi NFL players have been trailblazers in the league’s 100 years.

Loser: ‘South Park’ goes transphobic just in time for Trans Week

Yes, this is transphobia, but it’s not unexpected given the source, and it’s not really worth getting mad or upset about it.

Winner: Dr. Veronica Ivy

The transgender Canadian cyclist formerly known as Rachel McKinnon won the gold medal at the Masters Track Cycling Championships in Manchester, UK, in October, giving her back-to-back victories in that category as she defended her world title. In an interview with Sky News, Dr. Ivy defended her right to participate in women’s sports as a human right.

Losers: Reporters covering competitive cycling

The Union Cycliste Internationale announced it may reset maximum testosterone levels for trans athletes competing in women’s sports. But the bottom line, as Dr. Veronica Ivy, formerly Rachel McKinnon, made crystal clear on Twitter: a change in the maximum level of testosterone allowable for a trans woman to compete in women’s cycling “will have no effect on my eligibility.”

Winners: 6 out athletes playing in the NWSL final

There were three women playing for the NC Courage and three for the Red Stars who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual: Tierna Davidson of Menlo Park, Calif., played for Chicago, Abby Erceg of New Zealand, played for North Carolina, as did her girlfriend Kristen Hamilton of Littleton, Colo., Sam Kerr of Australia played for Chicago, as did her girlfriend Nikki Stanton of North Bend, Ind., and Stephanie Labbé of Canada played for North Carolina.

Winner: Gay UCLA assistant coach Kirk Walker named head coach of California Softball Commotion

The out assistant coach of the reigning NCAA champion UCLA Bruins will stay on at the university as he takes the reins of the newest National Pro Fastpitch club.

In November, I added a new category:

Hopeful: Transgender racer looks to break barriers at 24 Hours of Le Mans

After joining the Rainbow Laces campaign, Charlie Martin attempts to become the first trans athlete to compete at the famous endurance race.

Winners: Gay Belgian rower launches Instagram campaign to aid acceptance of LGBTQ athletes

Courtesy of Simon Haerinck

Simon Haerinck’s “Same Sport, Different Sexuality” takes social media by storm with photos emphasizing the bond between gay and straight rowers.

Losers: These NFL players’ cleats support homophobia and oppose bullying

Six NFL players are raising money for the anti-gay Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Four support the end of bullying.

Hopeful: Chelsea Wolfe is a trans athlete on Team USA hoping to make history at the Olympics

No publicly out trans athlete has competed in the Olympics before. Chelsea Wolfe may be the first, in BMX freestyle.

Winner: MMA fighter, skateboarder & radio host Jason Ellis opens up about sex with men and being bi

In a no-holds-barred book, Jason Ellis shares stories about sex with men and his journey to accepting his bisexuality.

Losers: Lawmakers in 3 states make new efforts to restrict trans student athletes

Lawmakers in Washington State, Georgia and Tennessee are the latest to try to restrict participation in sports according to a student athlete’s gender presumed at birth.

Hopeful: Fired gay radio host Seth Dunlap breaks his silence: ‘No longer am I afraid’

The out sports radio host fired for allegedly tweeting a homophobic slur from the station’s account, tweeted for the first time since accusations surfaced in September, telling doubters ‘shame on you.’

Winner: Dwyane Wade uses she/her pronouns to refer to his 12-year-old child

Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade sets an example for dads of LGBTQ kids everywhere.

Loser: Olympian Sharron Davies compares drag shows to ‘blackface’

Seemingly out of nowhere, the British silver medalist issues a tweet comparing drag queens to ‘blackface.’

Hopeful: Trans athlete Chris Mosier: ‘I’m competing in the Olympic Trials!’

The transgender athlete spoke with Outsports about competing in next month’s Men’s 50k race walk Olympic Trials for Team USA.

Winner: Figure skater Amber Glenn comes out as bisexual/pansexual: ‘I don’t want to hide who I am’

USA elite skater and junior national champion Amber Glenn came out in an interview.

Loser: 3-time Olympian Inga Thompson removed from Oregon Bicycle Racing Assn. board, but not because of transphobia

”I do not hear trans voices calling for a separate ‘trans only’ racing category,” said trans racer Molly Cameron. “I hear trans voices calling for acceptance...”

Hopeful: Sue Bird makes plans to build a nest someday

WNBA and Team USA superstar Sue Bird gets candid about her plans for potential parenthood with Megan Rapinoe.

And let’s end with three inspiring winners:

Winners: Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics

Elena Delle Donne triumphed over an injured back to lead the Washington Mystics to its first-ever title. She rightly earned the MVP award in 2019.

Winner and Outsports Person of the Year: Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe used her incredible 2019 soccer success to bring attention to social-justice issues. You can read about all the winners of the 2019 Outsports Awards by clicking here.

Winners: This trans coach married their spouse with love, confetti and a drag queen story time

Stephen Alexander married Kate Sahler in a colorful wedding, along with Naomi Chomsky reading ‘Marlon Bundo.’

Kate Sahler and Stephen Alexander’s wedding day. Bethany & Dan Photography

That’s all for 2019! Got a name I missed, or want to challenge my choices? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram, tweet at us, message me via any social media, or just plain email me at outsports@gmail.com Thanks and Happy New Year!