Voice To Voice: Akil Patterson And Josh Dixon Discuss Race And Sexual Orientation In Sports

Each month Athlete Ally and The Huffington Post will feature a new Voice to Voice segment featuring LGBT and ally people of color leading the movement to end homophobia, biphobia, sexism and transphobia in athletics. The discussions will focus on the interplays of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and how those relationships affect LGBT inclusion and allyship in sports. Topics may include faith, family, health, body, immigration, community, stigma, visibility, economic status, violence, masculinities and femininities, language and more. Kye Allums, Ashland Johnson and Akil Patterson, all active and accomplished LGBTQ advocates, will act as lead moderators for the initiative. They will be joined by guest moderators Katheryn King and Alyssa Puno.

This month Akil Patterson talks with gymnast great Josh Dixon.

Patterson: Growing up, I was in a more traditional home from the start, with my parents being married for over 30 years and raising three straight children, as well as myself. I was their All-American kid, with a national title under my belt and several All-American awards in two sports. We are also an east coast New York/New Jersey family where we speak our thoughts and feelings to each other, which made my coming out to them a very simple and straightforward conversation. You, on the other hand, are a west coast kid and were adopted by your parents. Within a multi-racial family, how was it for you coming out and growing up in a mixed ethnic culture?

Dixon: Yes, it was very different. There are different social cultures that exist from one coast to another, and certainly from one family to another, but the understanding human element exists everywhere. If anything, I was in the most accepting environment at Stanford University to come out and the time was just right. There isn’t a right or wrong way, it was just time for me to be who I was and I had the people and family around me to do so. I’ve had that around me my entire life, a compassionate and loving support system, it was more or less me getting over myself. I was scared to have that conversation with myself and wasn’t ready to until later during my time at Stanford. It certainly helped that I had met somebody who is very close to my heart, a fellow gay student-athlete who helped me navigate the path, and for that I couldn’t have really asked for anything more.

You can read more of their conversation here.