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.
The first installment is with Hayley Good, a junior Communication major with an emphasis in PR and a minor in Spanish at The University of Indianapolis.
KJ: So, to get things started off, what made you start/join Athlete Ally at your school?
HG: Last year Hudson Taylor came to the University of Indianapolis and spoke to a select group of Athletes (Wrestlers, Swimming, Baseball/softball) about Athlete Ally and what he was trying to do. I wanted to get involved last year, but unfortunately, complications made it impossible to do so. Stephanie Kalili, who is also a junior, became a college ambassador and came to our Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) to explain what Athlete Ally does. She wanted to see who was interested in getting involved, sign pledge and asked to see if any entire teams could sign would the pledge. The only team that thought they could get the entire team to sign was softball. From then on I wanted to do more with Athlete Ally. Soon after, I met a student ambassador from Ithaca College.
KJ: Hey! That’s me!
HG: Yes, that’s you! And it made me really want to get even more involved.
KJ: Awesome! Glad to know I helped you in some way! This all definitely sounds like something you’re passionate about.
HG: Yeah, it’s definitely something that you should be supportive of; it’s not about changing your face it’s about changing your level of acceptance and respect
KJ: I couldn’t agree more. So how do you feel the athletic environment at your college is in terms of accepting LGBTQ students?
HG: I would say it is definitely better than it was the past two years. We have a gay diver on our team and that has made the swimming/diving team more accepting. I can’t speak for all teams for certain, but when Stephanie gave the speech all teams seemed accepting. That being said, we’re not at the level we could be at and there’s definitely room to improve.
KJ: Have you and Stephanie done anything advocacy/awareness related so far?HG: We’re still the beginning stages, but we’re planning on doing a few things in the near future.
KJ: Care to elaborate?
HG: Certainly! I would love to do a lecture to students about Athlete Ally. Student athletes are required to go to one about alcohol and I would love to contact the Athletic Director and see if we can make a mandatory event where Stephanie and I describe Athlete Ally and what the athletes can do to help. Stephanie is also involved with the Gay-Straight Alliance club and U of Indy and is enlisting their help.
KJ: Sound like a good plan to me! Anything else?
HG: If the initial speech to the athletes goes well, I would also love to do a presentation to the general public and/or invite Hudson Taylor to come back and give a presentation to the general public. I think this would help Athlete Ally’s total awareness on campus.
KJ: That’s really awesome, I would love to get Hudson Taylor to come to Ithaca as well! So I’m kinda going off the “What have you done” path a bit, but if you could meet any of the Athlete Ally Pro Ambassadors, who would you choose and why?
HG: I would have to say either Greg Louganis because he’s a diver and I love what he’s doing with the Olympics right now or Blake Skellerjup because of what he’s doing for the Olympics. And because he’s from New Zealand. That’s awesome.
KJ: Good choices.
HG: So now let me ask you: who would you choose?
KJ: Robbie Rogers. I admire his courage so much for coming back to the game after coming out and overall he seems like a really laid back person. It’s good to see him back out on the field and, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to meet the first “out” gay professional athlete in the top 5 major sports?
HG: Can’t argue with that.
KJ: So as I’m sure you know Athlete Ally is supporting the “Principle 6” campaign. What are your opinions on the campaign and what’s going on in Russia right now?
HG: I definitely think that everything they’re doing is wrong. Russia is unfortunately not as open and free as the United States. It’s really wrong, especially based on sexual orientation. I support what Athlete Ally is doing and I love the “holding hands” idea. It’s subtle enough to get the point across but not gather too much attention. Sexual orientation has no effect on athletic ability and denying their (LGBTQ athletes) participation based on that matter is wrong.
KJ: I agree 100%. Is your chapter of Athlete Ally doing anything to bring awareness to the issue?
HG: I feel like this could be worked into the presentation that I would give. Stephanie mentioned the Olympics at the SAAC talk, but I would like to expand on that through the presentation to make people are aware of what’s going on and why it’s wrong. I know that we’re just a small university, but it’s important to show that’s it’s going on in a giant country and it’s important to work on this on a smaller scale.
KJ: I couldn’t agree more. All movements have to start somewhere. Who else inspires you to stand up for LGBTQ equality?
HG: My roommate, who’s here with me today. She says hi. (Laughs) She is a member of the LGBTQ community and living her has definitely opened my eyes and made me more interested in LGBTQ activism. Becoming closer with her has given me first hand experience that there is no difference between LGBTQ people and straight people. We’re all human and that’s what matters.
Kyle James is a sophomore at Ithaca College. He is currently pursuing a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with Minors in Economics and Sport Studies, and is a member of the Ithaca College Honors Program. Kyle is currently the founder and Co-President of the Ithaca College Athlete Ally club.