Steve Strimling is breaking more ground as an out gay football referee, this time leading the entire group of officials for the upstart USFL.

Strimling is a full-time referee for the Pac 12 and was the referee for the Cotton Bowl earlier this year. He previously held the coordinator of officials position for the Alliance of American Football before it folded in 2019.

He came out publicly a few years ago in a feature article for Outsports, saying he hoped his being out and his success on the field inspired others to be their true selves.

“The articles I read about other gay people in sports each say how much they helped others,” he told me at the time. “That’s why I want to do this. I want to help.”

I’ve heard from LGBTQ officials who have been inspired by Strimling and his visibility, some of them you may hear from soon on Outsports. As our motto says, “Courage is contagious.”

One of Strimling’s hires is Amanda Sauer, an out bi umpire in the Big Ten. Sauer isn’t assigned to any games this inaugural weekend but will be working this season on Duane Heydt’s crew.

An interesting tidbit is that one crew this weekend, helmed by Big Ten referee Brian Banks, will work two USFL games in one day. I’ve asked a few people if they could recall an officiating crew working two professional football games in one day, and this may be the first.