The Action Awards celebrate the pioneering actions of organizations and individuals that help create LGBTQ inclusive athletic environments and eliminate anti-LGBTQ discrimination at large.
On October 6, 2018 we honored tennis icon Billie Jean King, sports journalist and activist Jemele Hill, and rugby player Shawn Gatewood for their pioneering actions to create LGBTQ inclusive athletic environments and fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination at large.
About our honorees:
Throughout her incredibly successful career as a six-time World No. 1 ranked tennis player with 39 Grand Slam Titles, Billie Jean King’s mission has been to make sports more equitable and inclusive. Her advocacy led the U.S. Open to become the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to women and men, and she also helped ensure the passage of the federal Title IX law guaranteeing female athletes equal access to school sports. Her win against Bobby Riggs in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match set the record straight once and for all that every athlete deserves the same access and opportunities—a principle she has fought for throughout her career. King knows firsthand both the struggle of living as a closeted LGBTQ athlete, and the tremendous power of living as an open and visible one. As the Founder of the Women’s Tennis Association,Women’s Sports Foundation and Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, and the co-Founder of World TeamTennis, she has worked tirelessly to champion gender and LGBTQ equality.
Jemele Hill is an award-winning sports journalist who previously worked as chief correspondent and senior columnist for The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. Prior to joining The Undefeated, Hill co-anchored SportsCenter for a year with her longtime friend and colleague Michael Smith. Hill made national news in October 2017 when she was suspended by ESPN for speaking out on social justice issues, and refusing to “stick to sports.” From calling out white supremacy to defending NFL players’ right to protest racial injustice and police brutality, Hill has boldly demonstrated how those in sport and the media can leverage their platforms and influence to drive social change.
In Fall 2017, Shawn Gatewood faced transphobic violence and hate speech simply for playing rugby, the sport he loves, as a transgender athlete on the Raleigh Venom D1 Women’s Rugby team in Raleigh, North Carolina. Shawn emerged from this experience more determined than ever to speak out for himself and the right of all trans people to live fulfilling lives free of violence and discrimination. Especially given the devastating trend of violence against trans people of color in the U.S., which claimed the lives of at least 28 people in 2017, Shawn has called for trans youth to be respected and protected.