Chicago, IL —
Chicago's City Council is considering a resolution that encourages the Commissioners from major sports leagues to support their gay players, invite them to come out and to ensure their safety.
A public hearing prior to a vote on the resolution has been scheduled for Tues., May 7, at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Room 201A, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. The City Council vote will take place Wed., May 8. If passed, Chicago would become just the second city to declare its backing for LGBT athletes. San Francisco was the first in October 2002.
Alderman Joe Moore (49th), who introduced the resolution on April 10, will be joined for the public hearing by Fawn Yacker, project director of The Last Closet, a San Francisco-based campaign dedicated to fighting homophobia in professional sports.
"Although the LGBT sports movement has progressed at lightening speed since our launch in Sept. 2012, there is still work to be done," explained Yacker. "This resolution in support of LGBT professional athletes asks the commissioners of the five major sports to invite their players to come out and provide safety nets for them once they do. We ask that they make these statements on camera."
Only one league commissioner, Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League, has publicly welcomed gay athletes within the NHL to come out if they choose to do so. In light of Jason Collin's announcement last week, Yacker said that it is vital that the other four league Commissioners prepare for the inevitability of more players coming out.
"Several other of the commissioners have done great work for the LGBT community and have been acknowledged, but they need to be seen and heard via our most powerful and most easily disseminated media vehicle," Yacker told ChicagoPride.com.
Also confirmed to attend the public hearing on Tuesday are: Openly gay Alderman Tom Tunney (44th) and James Cappleman (46th); Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com writer; Fallon Fox, MMA fighter; Esera Tuaolo, out retired NFL player; and Bill Guburd, . Also represented will be the Chicago Fire and the Chicago Bears; Equality Illinois
; Chicago Commission on Human Relations
; Trevor Project; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame; the National Coalition of Lesbian Rights (NCLR); Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (The Alliance); Go!Athletes; The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation; Center on Halsted
; The University of Chicago; Northwestern University; and local LGBT sports teams.
"Visibility is the key to breaking down the underpinnings of anti-gay behaviors," said Yacker. "This resolution and specifically The Last Closet campaign, calls on sports leaders to take the lead and be visible in their support of their gay athletes."
Learn more about The Last Closet at www.thelastcloset.org