Posted by | January 15th 2013

Good things come in fives. Take Michigan’s “Fab-5” – forever immortalized as the best group of freshman to ever play men’s college basketball. Or the 2012 US Women’s Gymnastic team – glowingly referred to as the “Fierce 5” after their tumbles, vaults, and dismounts proved golden during the London Olympics. The Last Closet is hoping that this number is magical once again as we actively pursue interviews with what we’ll call our “fearless 5” professional sports team owners.

The Last Closet just launched its second campaign – the owners campaign – and selected five owners from each of the major professional sports leagues to speak out about homophobia. We chose these “fearless 5” because they have demonstrated an awareness of LGBT issues and have an inclination to become an ally in the effort to help pave the way for the first professional athlete to come out publicly as gay while actively playing.

So who are these fearless leaders and why did we choose them for our campaign? Here is a brief rundown of some of the most progressive thinking team owners in professional sports:

Francisco Aquilini, Owner of the Vancouver Canucks (NHL):

The Canucks participated in GLAAD’s Spirit Day as well as Vancouver’s Gay Pride Parade. Several players are involved with You Can Play – another great organization dedicated to eliminating homophobia in sports.

Larry Baer, Owner of the San Francisco Giants (MLB):

The Giants were the first professional sports team to participate in the “It Gets Better” campaign. The team has a decade-long tradition of holding an “LGBT night” at the ballpark where partial proceeds benefit LGBT non-profit organizations.

Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks (NBA):

In an audio interview with TMZ Cuban stated his believe that a gay player will come out in the NBA during the next 3 to 5 years. He also wrote, with great candor, a blog article titled “Am I a Homophobe?” that explores the innate fear of “otherness.”

Robert Kraft, Owner of the New England Patriots (NFL):

Kraft voiced support for Boston Herald sports journalist Steve Buckley after he came out as gay in 2011. Kraft was the keynote speaker at an LGBT executive networking event and he has donated to PFLAG. The Patriots are the first NFL team to become a sponsor of Gay Bowl (Gay Bowl III in Boston).

Merritt Paulson, Owner of the Portland Timbers (MLS):

Paulson was the only Major League Soccer owner to participate in Gay4Soccer’s “Allies” twitter campaign. Paulson’s twitter response read: “happy to declare my support for the gay community.” The team’s fan group, The Timber Army, has also joined the “Allies” campaign.

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Comparisons to Jackie Robinson, the great Brooklyn Dodgers player who broke the color barrier, await the first player to come out as gay while actively playing. But we’re also wondering who will be the next Branch Rickey? Robinson showed remarkable poise in the face of constant harassment, abuse, and even death threats during his rookie year with the Dodgers. He was able to endure these hardships due to his own perseverance, talent, and – not to be overlooked – the support he received from the Dodgers organization. In particular, Team President Branch Rickey is credited with championing Robinson and supporting the integration of baseball.

We feel that any one of our “fearless 5” owners could have a similar impact on paving the way for a gay player to come out by using their power to foster and promote a climate of tolerance and acceptance within their entire organization. It is our hope that they will agree to an on-camera interview with The Last Closet and speak out against homophobia in sports.

To join our campaign, please send a letter. It only takes – you guessed it – 5 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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