A Duke alumni and valued WNBA star, Karima Christmas averaged 10.3 points per game and 6 rebounds per game for the Indiana Fever in the 2013 playoffs. The latest in an impressive group of WNBA Ambassadors including Lauren Jackson and Jayne Appel, Christmas spoke with Athlete Ally Program Coordinator Brian Healey about why she’s decided to stand up for LGBT inclusion in sports.
Q: What made you decide to support LGBT equality as an Ambassador for Athlete Ally?
A: I think the main reason I wanted to support LGBT equality is because of the number of people I know that it affects in my life, especially my relationships with friends and teammates. I’m a straight young woman, but I’ve always believed that everyone has the right to be who they really are and not feel ashamed of that, no matter what they do as a profession. The sports world has been under so much pressure lately with LGBT equality and it shouldn’t be that way. An athlete shouldn’t be judged based on anything other than what they bring to their respective sports.
Q: Why do you think more and more athletes, including WNBA players, are taking the time to speak out in support of LGBT inclusion in athletics?
A: I think more and more athletes are taking time to speak out in support to LGBT inclusion because we realize that our voice counts. If we can’t be firm believers in LGBT equality, we can’t expect others to do the same. Whether we like it or not, we’re role models to various people around the world and they look up to the way we carry ourselves professionally and certain things that our characters stand for. So I believe that it’s great to relay that message to the rest of the world and make an impact on an area in sport that’s very important. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable.
Q: In your opinion, why aren’t female LGBT athletes talked about as much when they come out, as compared to male athletes?
A: In my opinion, female LGBT athletes aren’t talked about as much when they come out because I think more and more people are becoming aware of it and embracing that fact instead of trying to suppress it. I believe the WNBA is an extraordinary platform for that, and it’s not negatively exploited. Female athletes are being accepted more and I wish the same for men.
Q: What more do you think the world of professional sports can do as a community to support LGBT inclusion in sport?
A: More attention can definitely be drawn to supporting LGBT inclusion in sport. The world of professional sports should be able to use LGBT professional athletes and their stories, and bring attention to the lack of support across the board. Find out why some are accepted and others are scrutinized more, and try to make a change. One thing could be to partner up with different professional teams that are willing to show their support and also go out in their communities and put into action some of the points that should be heard.
This is an important cause and I’m glad I can be on the side of rallying for more support!