Keeping with the spirit of Pride Month, PlayPH takes a look at some athletes who’ve become just as famous for breaking barriers as they have on their respective playing fields.
One of basketball’s most prominent LGBTQ icons is Sue Wicks. In the year 2000, the Women’s Basketball Hall-of-Famer spoke publicly about her sexuality and opened up about how leagues should also promote lesbian players.
The Rutgers All-American played for New York Liberty during the inaugural season of the WNBA and immediately branded herself as an effective center. Although Wicks never put up high scoring numbers, she scored on things that couldn’t be counted like heart and hustle. This alone proved that individuals of her kind could perform at the highest stage of basketball.
Nowadays Wicks spends her time being an advocate for good sportsmanship, as well as a role model for little girls who want to pursue basketball. Early this year, she arrived in Manila to help coach the young athletes of the Jr. NBA during the National Training Camp.
NBA and WNBA JOIN PRIDE MARCH
The NBA and WNBA have also showed their support for the LGBTQ communities. In 2016, members of both leagues joined over 32,000 marchers during the NYC LGBT Pride Parade, making them the first two pro-leagues ever to participate in such event.
Fellow LGBTQ member and former NBA player Jason Collins stood on the NBA float during the parade, joined by other league representatives. Collins was the first openly gay player the league has seen.
TOM WADDELL and the GAY OLYMPICS
Tom Waddell founded the Gay Olympics in 1982 in San Francisco. Waddell was a competitor himself, specifically as a track runner during in the early 60s. He’s participated in big sporting events such as the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, where he broke five personal records in just 10 events.
The event is open to anyone without regard to sexual orientation and is mainly focused on promoting the pursuit of personal growth. Some of the original games include swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, basketball, and football. But as the Gay Olympics continued to power through the years, it resulted to a rapid increase in games and competitors worldwide.
RYAN O’ CALLAGHAN
On June 20, former NFL offensive tackle Ryan O’ Callaghan came out to the world about his sexuality. Over his five-year career, O’Callaghan played for the Patriots and Chiefs. As a member of the Patriots, O’ Callaghan was part of 2007’s legendary 16-0 team. According to him, the sport was his lifeline and the only thing that kept him together. The phenomenal performance comes on the heels of Michael Sam who, in 2014, made history as the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.