Outsports is asking LGBTQ people in sports how they are impacted by the coronavirus crisis and its effects on all aspects of daily life. Today: Rugby player, former NCAA wrestler, and student president at the University of Missouri Kansas City, Justice Horn. He identifies as gay.
At first, the coronavirus felt like a distant thing that would never touch our personal lives.
I remember being briefed on the idea of setting up plans and statements if the virus came to University of Missouri Kansas City, where I am student body president. As the son of mother in healthcare, I took the situation seriously and we put into place plans and statements for minor and extreme scenarios that could take place.
A week later the news broke that the University of Missouri Columbia had a member of a faculty and student delegation test positive after returning from New Orleans. As soon as that information was verified by Mizzou, I urged the university to not make the same mistake as Mizzou and wait for the virus to come to our campus, but to immediately close our doors. After working with the university, we made the decision to immediately cancel school for the day and then we would later move the whole university to an online format.
From the start of the epidemic, I have been the point person communicating with students on updates from the university. I urged the university to close its doors and we then started setting up resources for our students.
I also successfully worked to get students refunds for their room and board, meal plans, parking passes and campus recreation fee. After this, I called for our university to move to a pass-fail metric that students could choose, and that wouldn’t affect their GPA, a decision the school implemented.
These decisions were made because many of the 17,000 students are struggling financially and cannot fully focus on their academic career. But there’s more that can be done for our community.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in contact with several LGBTQ students and community members who are struggling to make ends meet. After speaking to UMKC, we launched an emergency relief fund that helps those who have been impacted by COVID-19.
After this campaign launched, the UMKC Student Government Association Speaker of the Senate, Emma Weile, and Sen. Trenton Garza led the way, passing a campus resolution donating nearly $25,000 to this emergency fund. Since then, the emergency fund has raised nearly $800,000 for those who are struggling. This fund supports our Kangaroo Food Pantry and is accessible to all those who are seeking a meal as well.
This is personal for me. My mother is a healthcare professional, and she recently tested positive for COVID-19. She is recovering and getting through this, but I can’t say the same for those who are benefiting from the plans that we put in place.
In a time of crisis every decision is made with the worst-case scenario in mind because people’s lives are on the line. I miss in-person classes, my activist work, interacting with others and my rugby season, but it’s on us to choose how this plays out moving forward.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized that we can still do good things remotely. This epidemic has showed me that we need more LGBTQ representation in all levels of government because those are often the voices left behind in times of crisis.
I want all those who read this article to go out and help any way that you can because our community can be the leader of good deeds. Like during the HIV/AIDs epidemic, we didn’t need the federal government because it was the LGBTQ community who stepped up.
We are in turbulent times, but I’m inspired every day by the nature of human kindness under pressure. Our community has always been resilient, and I believe that this is our calling. To stand together as a country, we must start with our community.
Justice Horn is a rugby player and student body president at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He is the school’s first openly gay and multicultural president. Horn lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and is a former college wrestler at Northern State University. He can be reached on Instagram: @justicehorn; Twitter: @JusticeHorn_ or Facebook: Justice Horn
If you’re an LGBTQ person in sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Alliance to find other coaches, administrators and other non-athletes in sports.
If you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell us how the coronavirus crisis has affected your life, email Jim Buzinski (firstname.lastname@example.org).