To highlight the voices of Athlete Ally Ambassadors across the country, Kyle James of Ithaca College is leading an interview series to expand upon why these young LGBTQ activists feel passionate about inclusion in sports and beyond, and what the climate is like at their institution for student-athletes who identify as LGBTQ.
This week, Atticus DeProspo from Conrell is featured.
KJ: What made you start Athlete Ally at your school?
AD: I really wanted to make our athletic community at Cornell more inclusive and show more individuals that they could feel safe playing a sport as a member of the LGBTQ community. Beth Livingston, an Athlete Ally advisory board member and a professor at Cornell, introduced me to Athlete Ally and I immediately became interested. It also goes along with one of my research interests in gender.
KJ: How do you feel the athletic environment at Cornell is in terms of accepting LGBTQ students?
AD: Cornell is generally accepting all around as a university. The athletic community is also generally accepting and inclusive, however there is still work to be done. Many students still have trouble being comfortable and still fear being “out” as a LGBTQ individual on an athletic team. People in the athletic community here still need to be more aware that their language and actions that can be hurtful towards their LGBTQ teammates.
KJ: I hear you there. Here at Ithaca College, we’re generally accepting as well but we’re still dealing with a lot of issues, especially those dealing with language used on the different athletic teams.
AD: It’s definitely something we’re working on addressing here at Cornell as well.
KJ: Has Cornell Athlete Ally done any events yet?
AD: Yeah, we’ve done a few. One of the main things we’ve done is create an Athlete Ally video to increase our awareness on campus and really put our message of creating a safe space within the athletic environment at Cornell. This video shows different allies within various teams at Cornell as well as administrators and faculty. The people in the video are current allies who are looking to inspire others to speak up for inclusion. It is our hope that by seeing this video, questioning allies feel more comfortable coming out to their teammates, however, the video isn’t forcing anyone to come out.
KJ: That’s awesome! I’m sure the video will have a really amazing effect in creating an accepting environment at Cornell!
AD: Yeah, it’s also a part of another thing we’re doing called Ally Day!
KJ: What’s that?
AD: To start the spring semester, we’re having an Ally Day to really spread our message across the Cornell campus. We’re going to show the video at a women’s ice hockey game and raise money for the Trevor Project.
KJ: That sounds amazing! And definitely for a good cause! I know the Trevor Project does amazing work within the LGBTQ community.
AD: Yeah! We’re really excited to have the event!
KJ: So what does Cornell Athlete Ally have in store for the future?
AD: Aside from Ally Day, we’re also looking at hosting a speaker event at Cornell. We’d like to have Hudson Taylor and another professional member of Athlete Ally or a LGBTQ athlete come and speak about their experiences as a gay professional athlete or as a straight ally.
KJ: That’s awesome! I know that our Athlete Ally chapter is looking at bringing in a speaker as well, so maybe we could collaborate with you guys in bringing in a speaker since our two campuses are so close!
AD: Definitely! I’ll keep you posted on what we have planned and we’ll stay in touch as we start next semester.
KJ: That sounds great! Is there anything else you’d like me to know about yourself or Cornell Athlete Ally?
AD: MTV’s “True Life” came and followed my experiences with what we’ve done with the Cornell Athlete Ally chapter. They filmed our meetings, our video that we made, and my teammates and I wearing rainbow gear when we played Brown University. The video will be airing sometime in February so be on the lookout for it!
Check out the Cornell Daily Sun’s preview of the MTV True Life special here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr3IFYN1B-Y
Like Cornell’s Athlete Ally page on Facebook here: