The Athlete Ally Action Awards Honor LGBT Pioneers and Celebrate Allyship

Photo by Alyssa Greenberg

On October 2, Athlete Ally held its inaugural Action Awards in New York City to honor the people and organizations who took pioneering actions in 2014 to create LGBT inclusive athletic environments and end anti-LGBT discrimination. The sold-out event featured moving speeches from honorees Jason Collins and Martina Navratilova, appearances from special guests including Lindsay Berra, and succeeded in raising over $200,000 to support Athlete Ally’s programming.

Throughout the evening, many in attendance spoke of the importance of allyship.

Lindsay Berra, an writer and granddaughter of Yogi Berra, was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the baseball legend, and spoke about the synergy between Athlete Ally and the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. “Athlete Ally and the mission of the Museum and my grandfather’s values just mesh very well. When my grandfather was playing, obviously it was much more about racial integration and racial tolerance, and he was way ahead of the curve with that,” she said. “I think growing up as an Italian immigrant he was used to some of that racial discrimination, and never wanted anyone to feel like they didn’t belong,” she continued. “He’s always been about respect and fairness and treating people the way you want to be treated, and that really worked very well with the mission of Athlete Ally and pushing LGBT rights in sports.”

“Athlete Ally is one of those great organizations that does so much in promoting equality in sports,” said Jason Collins, who was honored at the event. “Regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, you name it, it’s all about a level playing field and treating everyone in the locker room with respect. It’s not just going to come from within the LGBT community. It’s really on all of us, allies included. That’s why this organization is so important.”

Among the highlights of the evening was a fast-paced auction called by Action Awards co-chair and Athlete Ally board member Christine Quinn, a pre-recorded message of congratulations from MLB’s Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, and the announcement that New York Yankee Brandon McCarthy is joining Athlete Ally as its 101st Pro Ambassador. McCarthy is the first active MLB player to become an Ambassador.

“Inclusion in sports is: Are you good enough to play? That should be the only thing that matters, hands down”, McCarty said. “Can you play? Can you compete with the people you’re going up against? That’s the only thing that should determine whether or not you’re a part of something.”

Photos from the Action Awards can be viewed on our Facebook page.