Minnesota United FC signs anti-homophobia pledge

Categories: GLBT, Sports

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A dozen players and two coaches signed the Athlete Ally pledge.
Minnesota's second-division soccer team is now the latest organization to join the push for equality in sports.

The majority of Minnesota United FC -- including 12 players, head coach Manny Lagos, and assistant coach Carl Craig -- recently signed on as ambassadors for Athlete Ally, a nonprofit that promotes tolerance in sports. Created in January 2011, the organization's board counts Ravens linebacker and outspoken gay rights activist Brendan Ayanbadejo, as well as Minnesota United President Nick Rogers.

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The topic of homosexuality in sports has been evolving quickly in the past few months, especially with news that four pro athletes are considering coming out. As we reported in our October cover story on Vikings punter/LGBT ally Chris Kluwe, attitudes toward gay people have been slowly progressing toward tolerance over the past few decades. An excerpt from the Kluwe feature:

In the arena of sports, Kluwe has already witnessed an evolution in the locker room, he says. When he was a rookie in 2005, it was commonplace to throw around words like "faggot" and "gay" as insults. Now that's no longer acceptable. And when he does hear slurs, Kluwe actively calls out the other player, to set an example for the rookies.

"Hopefully, when they become seven-year or eight-year vets, they can pass that on to the next generation," Kluwe says. "It doesn't matter what your sexuality is, as long as you can play on the football field."

When the majority of athletes accustomed to such language retire, Kluwe is confident an NFL player will finally be able to come out while he's still active. It will be hard, Kluwe concedes, but the player will have plenty of support from people like him.

Asked if sexuality will ever be a non-issue in the NFL, Kluwe nods confidently.

"Yup," he says, stone-faced. "About 60 years from now, when all the old people are dead."

According to the New York Times, Rogers talked to the MN United players individually at a team photoshoot last week about signing the pledge. One player had initial reservations about showering with a gay player, but Rogers assured him that's most likely going to happen either way.

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