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Congratulations to the Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 08/02/13
Last updated on: 08/02/13
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Billie Jean is among the inductees.

Congratulations to the Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, which will induct its first class of honorees in a ceremony at Chicago's Center on Halsted on the evening of August 2, 2013. The inductees will also be honored at an event on August 3 at Wrigley Field called "Out at Wrigley," which is the largest "Gay Day" at a major league sporting event.

The mission of the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame is to recognize both individuals and organizations whose achievements and efforts have enhanced sports and athletics for the glbtq community. In addition, the Hall of Fame will preserve the history of glbtq participation in professional and amateur sports and provide outreach and education to the sporting world so that LGBT youth feel welcome and safe to participate in any and all athletic related activities.

The first class of inductees include the following: ESPN editor and writer Christina Kahrl, who publicly came out as a transsexual sportswriter in 2003; the late major league baseball player Glenn Burke, who suffered homophobia during his all too brief career; Anheuser Busch Brewing Company, for its support of glbtq causes and sports; the International Gay Rodeo Association, which was founded in 1985; pioneering transgender tennis player Renee Richards; Chicago Cubs superfan and "bleacher preacher" Jerry Pritikin; Chuck Dima, founder of the Big Apple Softball League in New York City and known as the "Godfather of gay softball"; pioneering gay sports website OutSports.org; one of the greatest tennis players in history Martina Navratilova; acclaimed Olympian Greg Louganis, perhaps the greatest diver in history; National Basketball Association center Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out; tennis legend Billie Jean King, who helped transform professional tennis into a more equitable sport for women; the Chicago Cubs, the first major league baseball team to advertise in a glbtq publication and the sponsor of the largest "gay day" in sports; journalist and commentator for ESPN and CNN LZ Granderson; the late Dr. Tom Waddell, who founded the Gay Games in 1982 in San Francisco; professional boxer Orlando Cruz, who recently came out loud and proud; former professional LaCrosse goaltender Andrew Goldstein, who was the first American male team-sport professional athlete to be openly gay during his playing career; former major league baseball umpire Dave Pallone, who was forced out of the game in 1988 after he was outed and became the subject of vicious rumors; and former rugby international star and gay ally Ben Cohen, who campaigns against bullying.

In a CBS News story about the new Hall of Fame, Pallone is quoted as saying of his inclusion, "It is a tremendous honor and . . . I hope it gives young people and adults alike who happen to be LGBT and want to be in professional sports another example of why they should continue to strive for their dreams."

Greg Louganis, who is coaching at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, will not attend the ceremony, but expressed gratitude for being included with the groundbreaking group of inductees.

"It's an honor to be included with that group because of the things they've done and what they have stood for," he said. "I'm very flattered."

One might query why some great American glbtq sports figures such as Babe Didrickson, Bill Tilden, David Kopay, Patsy Sheehan, and Sheryl Swoopes were not honored. Still, we extend hearty congratulations to the founders and supporters of the Hall of Fame and to the outstanding first class of inductees.

The video below profiles Hall of Famer Billie Jean King as a fighter for equality on and off the court.

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