Honoring Out Athletes

LGBTQI exclusion from athletic spaces starts at a young age as misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic environments cultivate bullying and harassment that forces aspiring LGBTQI athletes into the closet or out of sports entirely. Too many of our stories have been erased leaving LGBTQI athletes invisible and vulnerable, but athletes like openly gay Black baseball player and inventor of the high five, Glenn Burke, have always been in sports. Billie Jean KingBilly BeanRenée RichardsLiz CarmoucheGreg Louganis, and many other high-profile LGBTQ athletes have San Diego roots. 

In 2020, the entire San Diego Loyal Soccer Club walked off the field forfeiting their game after their openly gay player, Collin Martin, was subjected to an anti-gay slur and no action was taken against the offending player. Collin and the Loyal’s were just recognized with the United Soccer League’s Impact Player of the Year and Community Engagement awards for their outreach and public education efforts around LGBTQI inclusion. I never could have imagined anything like that when I was younger.

Meanwhile, transgender athletes like San Diegans Paulo Batista and Sam Moehlig are also inspiring out activists, carving a wider path for others to follow. Their pioneering presence in athletic spaces is ever more important as anti-LGBTQI extremists have found their latest targets: transgender athletes. 42 pieces of legislation targeting transgender youth in sports have been entered into legislative bodies across the country so far this year.

We fight these bills and bias through voter engagement, public education, and visibility. Here in San Diego, OUT at the Park started in the ’90s with just a handful of LGBTQI Padres fans buying tickets together and bravely waving rainbow flags. This year, thanks to the work of many over the decades, including openly gay MLB vice president and former Padres player, Billy Bean, we’re expecting around 8,000 prideful fans to join us in May!Athletes in San Diego from any of the 19 LGBTQI recreational sports groups create positive spaces for community building, fundraise for charities, and drive positive visibility for our community. Whether you’re a fan or an athlete, thank you for being a part of expanding access for our community and being a part of our pursuit of Justice with Joy!

With Pride,

Fernando Zweifach López
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
Executive Director
San Diego Pride

About Tyler DeLong