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Winners and losers in LGBT Sports after the walkout

A weekly list of stories from the past seven days with the theme of Courage Is Contagious.

Shelby Weldon

Activism among athletes is back, and with more urgency than ever, because systemic racial injustice is more evident than ever. This historic week featured NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, NFL and even tennis players walking away in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man by white police in Kenosha, Wis. Here’s this week’s list of winners and losers:


Winners: Players made history by not playing.

Our new daily feature, The Huddle, covered the strike (or boycott, depending on who you ask) by pro athletes. The Huddle is also where you’ll find what’s new in LGBT sports news, the latest links and who’s in the social media spotlight. In support of the protest, The Huddle went on strike starting Thursday night, and will return with a new edition on Sunday. As for the athletes, the MLB and tennis got back to work Friday, the NBA, WNBA and NHL resume play today, including the NBA playoffs and NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

Winner: Natasha Cloud celebrates Mystics’ call for justice for Jacob Blake

Natasha Cloud marches in a “Black Lives Matter” parade.
Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics and the Washington Wizards players lead “Together We Stand peaceful protest march to commemorate Juneteenth on June 19, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

After the Mystics participated in Wednesday’s WNBA wildcat strike for racial justice, Cloud applauded their activism on social media.

Winners: How Megan Rapinoe, and other LGBT sports stars, helped set stage for current moment in athlete activism

Megan Rapinoe kneels during the National Anthem
Megan Rapinoe kneels during the National Anthem
Photo from gbpackfan32 via Twitter

Megan Rapinoe and players on the Minnesota Lynx weren’t championed by their leagues when they took social stands four years ago.

Winner: Before Doc Rivers spoke out so strongly about racism in America, he said: ‘Love who you choose to love’

The powerful words of Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers bear intersectional similarities with the struggles of closeted athletes.


Loser: Creepy suspect in attempted kidnapping of WWE wrestler Sonya Deville

Daria Berenato aka Sonya Deville revealed that she came face-to-face with Phillip Thomas II after waking her friend and fellow WWE wrestler Mandy Rose. “I was terrified, I was screaming, ‘What the fuck are you doing here,’” Berenato said. He allegedly texted her from Berenato’s lanai on the night of the incident: “Hey baby, look outside. I’m by your pool.” Thomas also allegedly threatened to murder Berenato’s sisters and parents.


Winner: NWHLPA director Anya Packer is ready to replace Mike Milbury as NHL analyst

The director of the NWHL Players’ Association said she’s ready to step in, and her timing was perfect; just days later, Milbury announced he’s not coming back to the broadcast for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of his latest offensive comment.


Loser: University of Iowa shuts down swimming program

Mike Nelson
Mike Nelson

Writing that he was “Shocked. Appalled. Gutted,” gay swimmer Mike Nelson sent Outsports a letter about his four years at the University of Iowa. He wrote that he is stunned by the school’s decision to shut down the program that nurtured him. Now he and other swimmers are fighting back.


Winner: Lesbian skateboarder Annie Guglia ready for Olympic debut

Annie Guglia will be representing Canada at the Tokyo Games in the sport’s first year as an official Olympic sport.


Losers: Teammates of Hannah Mouncey who she says pushed her away over locker room use

The trans athlete was told to stay home during the World Championship, though she helped the team qualify. She opened up about those experience on the latest episode of the Outsports podcast Five Rings To Rule Them All.


Winners: Trans athletes’ fight for inclusion in World Rugby

IGRugby.org

Outsports launched a series this week highlighting the lives and perspectives of trans people in rugby, in partnership with International Gay Rugby.

Winners: Rugby players around the world take a stand in support of trans women and non-binary athletes

International Gay Rugby is directly addressing the transgender and non-binary rugby-playing community with the message: ‘You will always be welcome to play rugby.’

Winner: This trans rugby player says proposed ban is attack on her humanity

Isabella Macbeth
Isabella Macbeth
Photo provided.

Isabella Macbeth, who plays for a female rugby club in South Carolina, credits rugby with helping her through the toughest moments of her transition.

Winner: This trans woman has served her country for 15 years. Now she may be banned by World Rugby

Shoshauna Gauvin
Shoshauna Gauvin
James Retell

Shoshauna Gauvin has experienced tremendous changes in her game since transitioning. World Rugby should take note.

Winner: Bay Area flanker gets in the scrum against World Rugby’s proposed trans ban

Grace McKenzie
Grace McKenzie
Grace McKenzie

Seeing her place on the pitch threatened, Grace McKenzie helped forge an internet ‘start-up’ against transphobia.

Winner: This man was the only trans rugby player in the room where it happened: A forum to ban trans women athletes

Verity Smith
Verity Smith
Verity Smith

Before proposing its transban, World Rugby listened to Verity Smith, who played the sport for 26 years and says “I don’t think it’s dangerous” for cis women to play trans women.

Winner: Joanna Harper: World Rugby’s proposed transban is based on ‘false assumptions’

Joanna Harper
Joanna Harper
Photo provided by Joanna Harper

Trans athlete, author and researcher Joanna Harper suspects decision-makers at World Rugby “had their minds made up before they called the meeting.”


Winners: This gay rugby team is changing hearts and minds every day

The Birmingham Bulls, an inclusive rugby club in England, are beating teams on the pitch and sharing beers with them afterwards.

Winner: Only out athlete at BYU found out she wasn’t alone after all

Emma Gee
Emma Gee

Emma Gee was floored by the thousands of people, ‘straight and LGBTQ+, religious and secular, who want the world to be more inclusive.’


Winner: Irish lesbian soccer stalwart speaks out on sexism and homophobia in sports

Dr. Linda Greene is featured in a two-part examination of inequality and invisibility as a lesbian athlete.


Winner: How this national gay sports league is trying to safely operate during Covid, and provide needed relief to LGBT people

Varsity Gay League, which operates in 18 states and boasts an estimated 5,500 players per season, is trying to safely bring back some semblance of normalcy.


LGBTQ-led wrestling promotion Uncanny Attractions partners with IWTV

Uncanny Attractions Uncanny Attractions

The promotion debuted a mix of pro wrestling and drag on the popular streaming platform Wednesday night.


That’s all for this week! I’ll bring you a fresh list of winners and losers next Saturday. 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!