Idalia Friedson is a rising senior at Amherst College, and a member of the school’s softball team. She’s happily out, active on campus in many ways, and an Athlete Ally Ambassador. Read more about her story below, in a conversation she had with Athlete Ally Program Coordinator Brian Healey.
Q: Tell me a bit more about your background and why you feel LGBT allyship is important?
A: I am a rising senior on the softball team, and have been involved in both athletics and Pride Alliance since I was a freshman. As an openly gay athlete, I understand the importance of having allies in the athletic community. The incredible support of my teammates has been indescribably important to me, and it is a huge reason as to why I am so comfortable with my sexuality. I want all LGBT athletes at Amherst to feel supported, accepted, and respected by their individual teams and the athletic community as a whole.
Q: What do you think a group like Athlete Ally on campus could do for the overall good of the community at Amherst?
A: In addition to a strong LGBT group on campus, it is also important to have a group of allies. I think many people are allies, yet the visibility of allies is significantly less than those of LGBT athletes. Ultimately there is a difference between a general implied feeling of acceptance, which there is at Amherst, and an open and explicitly understanding environment which directly addresses the issues of LGBT athletes. A group like Athlete Ally would benefit open LGBT athletes, those struggling with their sexuality, prospective athletes, and the entire Amherst community.
Q: Do you think your team is a welcoming environment? Other teams at the school?
A: The softball team is absolutely amazing. My team is very accepting, and I think has become increasingly more welcoming in the years I have been here. I feel that as a whole the athletic department and most teams at Amherst are accepting environments for LGBT athletes.
Q: Do you think straight allies who are athletes help build respect among their peers for LGBT athletes?
A: Unquestionably, straight allies help build respect for LGBT athletes. I think too often people who are allies underestimate the importance that they have in furthering the respect LGBT athletes receive. Having straight allies be vocal about LGBT issues is arguably more powerful than having LGBT athletes champion the cause themselves as allies are able to connect to the larger majority community in ways that I feel I am unable to as a gay athlete. Allies who stand up for LGBT athletes and are not afraid of what others think send a powerful message and create ripples of change in important ways. People always assume that those who spearhead change in regards to the LGBT community are members of the community itself; I believe challenging that idea and demonstrating that those outside of the LGBT community are just as committed to the positive values of Athlete Ally will be extremely effective and powerful.
I believe that Amherst athletics can create an environment that is even more openly supportive of LGBT athletes; an environment where it becomes a regular part of team dialogue and values to be welcoming to LGBT athletes. Though undeniably present, often times acceptance and allyship is unspoken. The goal is not to have every person agree 100% with LGBT issues. Rather, I think the goal is to create an environment where the issues surrounding LGBT athletes are spoken openly about; a community that is dedicated to fostering a supportive environment for all, regardless of the beliefs of individuals.