Posts Tagged ‘Jason Collins’

An LGBT Pride Month Event with US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Senator Tammy Baldwin

US Senator Tammy Baldwin and US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on the stage at the US Department of Labor's 2016 LGBT Pride Event.

US Senator Tammy Baldwin and US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on the stage at the US Department of Labor’s 2016 LGBT Pride Event.

NOTE: This blog contains several links including to other previous related blogs. Please do explore them. In addition, here is a link to the video recording of this event on Youtube!

For the past two years, I have been invited to attend the US Department of Labor’s LGBT Pride Month event. Not living in Washington DC, I am not normally able to attend, but this year I was in DC for two days of business at the time of this event. What a privilege to be able to attend this event on June 28, 2016 in our nation’s capital with two outstanding high ranking US government leaders.

(NOTE: two years earlier I had attended a meeting with Secretary Perez and a dozen other “faith leaders” representing the North Carolina Council of Churches. Link to the blog about that meeting.)

The 45 minute discussion was held like a “town hall meeting” with Secretary Perez starting with a five minute address and then interviewing Senator Baldwin. In his introduction, Mr. Perez quoted author Charles Dickens about it “Being the best of times and the worst of times” eluding to the US Supreme Court ruling on marriage a year ago followed by the recent massacre at the Pulse Bar in Orlando. He also mentioned the absence of nationwide employment protections for LGBT people and said that a gay person could get married today and then go into work tomorrow and get fired. (NOTE: I actually wrote a blog with that title – link.)

This year's US Dept of Labor LGBT Pride Month poster featuring a quote from out NBA basketball player Jason Collins.  (Link to my blog about Collins' coming out as gay)

This year’s US Dept of Labor LGBT Pride Month poster featuring a quote from out NBA basketball player Jason Collins. (Link to my blog about Collins’ coming out as gay)


Mr. Perez then introduced Senator Tammy Baldwin, the first openly out LGBT US Senator. He praised her for what she has done and how she had also done it with “Midwestern kindness” in an overall caustic political climate. Here are some of the key points Senator Baldwin made her comments:

• She personally realized the importance of universal healthcare coverage for all Americans early in her life. She was raised by her grandparents, and when she suffered through a rare and long childhood serious disease, she was not covered on their insurance since she was a grandchild. Then later in college, she had many classmates who were unable to obtain health insurance.

• She shared her journey as an out lesbian politician; from her county commission to the Wisconsin state house to US House to US Senate. She spoke of the importance of working for all constituents and building relationships. She also mentioned she was very fortunate in that a few out gay politicians helped pave the way for her and served as role models.

• The day before this meeting, she was fortunate to be in Greenwich Village, New York City, where President Obama designated the Stonewall Inn (gay bar in New York City) as an historic National Monument. (National Park website information about this new National Monument.) Stonewall was the location of the 1969 rebellion against police harassment of LGBT people and considered the birthplace of the American gay rights movement. Senator Baldwin poignantly spoke of how in the gay community, bars are actually places of safety and sanctuary, especially for people rejected by their families and communities for being gay.

Living in North Carolina where our politics is quite regressive (see my recent blogs about HB2 and hate in NC, and about alternative actions to boycotting our state,) I am encouraged by these excellent diversity and inclusion embracing leaders at our national level working for the benefit of ALL Americans.

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On a personal note, once again I got hopelessly lost driving in DC and arrived a little late, missing the introduction by Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Outreach and Recruiter Director for Presidential Personnel, the White House’s first openly transgender staff member.

Five Important Ramifications of NBA Pro Basketball Player Jason Collins’ Coming Out

… And also I recognize Women’s Basketball super-star Brittany Griner below.

Major LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) news was made last month when Jason Collins became the first

Jason Collins became the first active athlete among the four major US pro sports to come out as gay via a recent online Sports Illustrated article

Jason Collins became the first active athlete among the four major US pro sports to come out as gay via a recent online Sports Illustrated article

active (non-retired) professional among the major four American Men’s pro sports (Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey) to come out publically as a gay man. Link to the Sports Illustrated online article. There was a major media flurry, and like always I like to wait for a month for the hoopla to die down so I can offer an additional thoughtful analysis. Here are my five hopeful long term ramifications of Jason’s coming out:

1. This sends the strong message to our LGBT youth that they can become anything they want and have the talent to do. LGBT youth do not need to be “pigeon holed” into careers stereotypically attributed to gay men and lesbians, but instead can pursue any career they want, including pro sports. And perhaps some day we will have a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender President of the United States!

2. This could help curb gay bullying and gay bashing. Bullies should think twice about picking on an LGBT person; perhaps their gay 7 foot tall, 240 pound muscular friend will come to their bullied victim’s defense. Not all gay guys are 120 pound slim guys. See link to my most recent blog on bullying which contains additional links to blogs and resources.

3. This will help pro sports become much more open to full acceptance of LGBT diversity, and perhaps significantly decrease homophobia in pro sports. The younger generation can aspire to play in pro leagues and also be out and true to their LGBT selves.

This year's first WNBA's draft pick Brittney Griner recently came out as a lesbian.  Here she is cutting down the nets after leading Baylor to their 2012 championship

This year’s first WNBA’s draft pick Brittney Griner recently came out as a lesbian. Here she is cutting down the nets after leading Baylor to their 2012 championship


4. Since Jason Collins is African-American, it helps dispel the myth that homosexuality is a “white person’s thing.” LGBT people are found across all segments of humanity. See also my last month’s blog on 5 Common Misconceptions about Gay People.

5. Finally, this breaks the gay male stereotype of all gay men being feminine and small. The LGBT community is extremely diverse with a wide range of gender expressions, shapes and sizes.

I would like to close this article with a call out to a female basketball star who recently came out as a lesbian; Brittany Griner, who led Baylor to the 2012 Women’s NCAA championship and was this year’s first draft pick in the WNBA draft. Link to the article about Brittany.

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