Athlete Ally Announces Action Award Honorees


New York (September 21, 2017) – We’re witnessing the greatest expansion of athletic activism in modern history. Never before have we seen athletes, teams and leagues – at all levels – speak out so regularly for LGBT equality. From high school and collegiate athletes, to entire collegiate athletic departments, to current and former professional and Olympic athletes, the athletic community has made it clear it won’t be sidelined in the fight for equality. Athlete Ally is proud to lift up and honor the stories, experiences and activism of the athletic community as we strive for a world of full dignity and protection for the LGBT community. Today, Athlete Ally announced the members of the Athletic Community that will be honored at our Fourth Annual Action Awards on October 3rd in New York City.

Esera Tuaolo was a defensive tackle in the National Football League for nine years. In 2002, having retired from sports, Tuaolo announced to the public that he is gay, coming out on HBO’s Real Sports. This made him the third former NFL player to come out, after David Kopay and Roy Simmons. Since coming out, Tuaolo has been a strong advocate for the LGBT community. He has worked with the NFL to combat homophobia in the league and has testified to State Legislatures in opposition to anti-LGBT legislation.

Lori Lindsey is a former member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. She represented the team during the 2011 Women’s World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Lori bravely came out in 2012, and has continued her staunch advocacy for LGBT equality. She also continues to be a model for the type of intersectional advocacy that’s needed in today’s political climate. She was part of the team that trekked to the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and set the Guinness World Record for the world’s highest ever soccer match. It was organized by Equal Playing Field, and helped bring attention to the need for greater gender equality in sport.

The Stanford & University of Southern California (USC) Athletic Departments will be honored for their ongoing and best practice leadership in creating inclusive college athletic environments. Stanford and USC were the only two schools to score a perfect 100 in Athlete Ally’s Athletic Equality Index, a historic assessment of the LGBT inclusiveness of the Power 5 conferences. The Athletic Equality Index was a first-of-its-kind report providing a comprehensive overview of how all 65 member institutions of the NCAA’s Power 5 conferences are supporting, or failing to support, their LGBT players, fans, coaches, officials and administrators.

Ezra Baeli-Wang is a 2016 graduate and student-athlete from the University of North Carolina, and was the driving force behind the ACC’s SAAC representatives speaking out vocally against North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law HB2. Ezra was the lead author of an open letter on behalf of these colleges that was published pushing back against anti-trans efforts in the state. His Allyship is a testament to Athlete Ally’s ongoing work at the collegiate level, and to the power of cultivating the next generation of athlete activists.

As previously announced, Athlete Ally will honor Mack Beggs, a high school male transgender wrestler whose story took the nation by storm earlier this year. Due to outdated and discriminatory Texas policies, Mack was being forced to compete against girls. Over the past six months, Mack has become a force in the fight for inclusion and equality. He was selected as the grand marshal of the San Antonio pride parade, an opportunity he hoped would bring greater awareness to the continued fight for transgender visibility. And, just last month, Mack partnered with Athlete Ally to publish a PSA pushing back against the proposed anti-LGBT legislation introduced as part of the Texas Special Session. Thanks to efforts like Mack’s – and the thousands of activists on the ground in Texas – the Texas Special Session concluded without the passing of an anti-transgender bill.

We’re also proud to announce that Travon Free, an Emmy Award winning comedian and writer will emcee the Action Awards. Free currently writes for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and previously wrote for The Daily Show on Comedy Central and Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons on HBO. Free won an Emmy Award for his work on The Daily Show in 2015. In addition, Free is a former collegiate basketball player, having played for the Long Beach State 49ers. In 2012, Free came out as bisexual, one of the few Division I basketball players to have come out.

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About Athlete Ally

Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers the athletic community to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia in sports. Athlete Ally works with MLB, the NBA, WNBA, and NBPA on player development and LGBT inclusion. It also co-wrote the NCAA’s LGBT policies and resource guides and partners with over 150 professional athletes and college campuses to promote LGBT equality and respect.

Learn more about the Athlete Ally Action Awards here and follow our Twitter.

Contact: Taylor Carr/ OR 315-945-7480