Canadian BMX pro Corey Walsh has come out as gay, making him one of the only openly LGBT+ riders in the industry.
Walsh, 26, is the 10th best BMX rider in the world, according to the Boardr BMX Global Ranking, and competed at the Vans BMX Pro Cup World Championships in 2019.
On Monday (29 March), he opened up about his sexuality for the first time on Instagram.
“If you were to tell me a year ago that today was going to be the day where I said f**k it and let the world in on my personal life I would have told you that’s never going to happen,” he wrote.
“But thanks to the support of my family, friends, and sponsors I can finally accept the fact that I am gay and be open about it.”
Walsh said that in a “perfect world” he would not have to come out, but said: “The reality is there are a lot of people still struggling with the same situations and I just wanted to let people know that they are not alone.
“I feel like the world is shifting into a more understanding place and now is the time to open up the conversation within our communities every chance we get. So here we are.”
He continued: “I understand the privilege I’ve had with my situation and the reality is a lot of members of the LGTBQ community don’t always get positive experiences.
“So I ask you if you can take anything positive from my situation please be open minded to anyone struggling with their own journeys. And to anyone out there dealing with the bad days it does get better. Just take it one day at a time.”
“Also, a huge thank you to anyone else who has previously opened up to tell their story,” he added.
“The only reason I have gotten to this point is because of you. Holy s**t that feels good, I’m stoked.”
In a piece for the international BMX magazine Dig, his best friend Kris Fox detailed the slow process of Walsh building up the courage to publicly come out.SPONSORED CONTENT
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Fox wrote: “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is this: everything is the same now with an added bonus.
“We’re still traveling and riding in the same ways with the same goals, but now we have the real Corey Walsh with us.”
Republican governor Kristi Noem has issued two executive orders to prohibit trans girls from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams in South Dakota.
Noem partially vetoed HB 1217 – also known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill – which would ban trans women athletes from playing in sports teams that align with their gender identity. The move shocked her conservative supporters as Noem had been a staunch supporter of the bill.
During an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Noem explained that she rejected the bill in its current form over fear that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) would seek punitive action if it was passed. She argued that she declined the bill unless several stylistic changes are made.
However, the South Dakota state legislature voted Monday (29 March) to reject Noem’s “style and form” veto of the trans athlete bill, by a 67-2 vote. Republican congressmen Fred Deutsch wrote on Twitter: “Vote to pass the governor’s style and form veto on the Fairness for [Women’s] Sports bill fails 2-67.
“The bill now goes back to the governor for her to either sign or veto. House believes her style-and-form is unconstitutional.”
On the same day, Kristi Noem announced two executive orders would be put in place in South Dakota to ban trans athletes from participating in school sports as their correct gender. Noem said on Twitter: “Only girls should play girls’ sports.
“Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HR 1217, I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics.”
She added that she will be working with state lawmakers to “schedule a special legislative session in late May or early June” to address “this important issue” as well as “medical marijuana” and federal spending.
Under the new executive order, the department of education and the board of regents in South Dakota will need to ensure that publicly-funded K-12 school districts, colleges and universities restrict participation in girls’ and women’s sports to athletes who can prove their assigned sex at birth.
The ACLU of South Dakota vowed on Twitter that it will not “stop defending the right for everyone to live and thrive” in the state. It posted an image with text on it that read: “The fight isn’t over. If only for a moment, we were able to take a deep sigh of relief.”
This is, in part, because there is no service or agency that tracks the number of trans athletes in the States.
While such a figure can be difficult to precisely pin down, a Gallup survey this year found 0.6 per cent of American adults are trans.
In fact, when two dozen state sponsors were asked by the Associated Pressto provide an example, any at all, of a trans teen causing the level of mayhem they make them out to cause, the news agency said most could not “cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems”.
Even Tennessee’s house speaker Cameron Sexton, the outlet reported, admitted that there likely aren’t even any openly trans youth taking part in middle or high school sports.
Around 73 per cent of Americans also support trans children participating in sports, according to a recent poll from the Human Rights Campaign, regardless of how much a hot-button issue it has been made out to be.
“My first thought was, f**k you,” he said. “My second was, ‘What if there’s a gay kid that looks up to him? What if they see this? What if this gives more fodder to the bullies?’”
On the heels of this came his third thought: “I have to tell the Steelers’ story.”
Two years later Eammon’s done just that with a new documentary about the King’s Cross Steelers – the world’s first gay rugby club.
Debuting at the Glasgow Film Festival this week, Steelers follows the iconic London club as it challenges conventional perceptions around sexuality, gender and masculinity in sport, just by existing.
When the Steelers first formed in 1995 there was nothing else like them on the rugby landscape. It was the peak of the AIDS crisis and few straight teams would even agree to meet them on the pitch. Some ignored the invitation, believing it was an April Fool’s joke.
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“When I was growing up, sport in general was always this hyper-masculine environment,” he said. “For whatever reason, the kids at school worked out that I was gay before I even knew it. That meant I was the butt of the jokes in every sports class or rugby match.
“They played up to all the stereotypes, that gay people have limp wrists and can’t throw a ball, so I was never really given the opportunity to succeed or to practice or to belong in a sporting environment.”
The bullying grew so bad that by the time he reached his senior year he was skipping every sports class. “By the end I absolutely hated it, passionately hated it you could say. And that was a real shame,” he said.
Those scars will never go away, but Eammon found something of an antidote with the Steelers, a team that gave him a space to fail and learn and improve, and gradually fall in love with sports again.
His experience is echoed by so many of his teammates, who speak candidly about their struggles with mental health and the salvation they’ve found with the club. For some – Eammon included – the Steelers has quite literally been a lifesaver.
“I got to the point where I wrote a goodbye note. That’s how low my depression had got,” he revealed. “And that was all a result of people’s words. They do have impact.”
Nearly three decades after it began the Steelers is a thriving, joyful celebration of masculinity in all its forms. And it’s no longer alone: there are now 80 gay and inclusive rugby clubs around the world, not to mention a bona fide gay rugby league.
But Israel Folau’s comments serve as an inescapable reminder of the homophobia that remains.
This painful truth underscores the whole documentary, which nonetheless manages to be a heartwarming success story, one Eammon hopes will serve as a vital counterpoint to the bigotry.
“Sportsmen and sportswomen, they’re like the modern day gladiators: they are role models in our society,” he said. “What they say and do matters because people do look up to them.
“I think the fact that that there aren’t many openly gay players in any league of professional sport for men just shows that we still do have a long way to go. And I hope that my film is one step towards where we need to be as a society.”
More than 500 athletes came together to defend trans people and take action on the wave of anti-trans bills making their way through US state legislatures.
On Thursday (March 11), Mississippi governor Tate Reeves signed a bill to ban transgender athletes from competing in sports teams that match their gender, drawing global condemnation.
It was the first such ban to be signed into law in 2021, however similar pieces of legislation are currently being tabled in various states.
On Wednesday (March 10), college athletes from across the US came together to write to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), urging it oppose such efforts.
NCAA officials were urged to not host championships in states that pass bills banning transgender athletes from competing or require athletes to undergo invasive medical testing.
Addressing Mark Emmet, the president of the NCAA, the letter published in Athlete Ally read: “We, the undersigned NCAA student-athletes, are extremely frustrated and disappointed by the lack of action taken by the NCAA to recognise the dangers of hosting events in states that create a hostile environment for student-athletes.”
It pointed to a ban signed into law in Idaho in 2020 that is currently subject to an injunction.
“HB500 in Idaho, even with the current injunction, is still is an incredibly harmful bill that sets a dangerous precedent of subjecting all women athletes to potential invasive gender verification tests while also effectively banning transgender women athletes from competition.”
The athletes told officials: “You have been silent in the face of hateful legislation in states that are slated to host championships, even though those states are close to passing anti-transgender legislation.”
The letter added: “The NCAA must speak out against bills that directly affect their student-athlete population if they want to uphold their self-professed ideals of keeping college sports safe and promoting the excellence of physical and mental well being for student-athletes”.
In a statement to Sports Illustrated, NCAA leaders said that the association “continues to closely monitor state bills that impact transgender student-athlete participation”.
“The NCAA believes diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment and it encourages its member colleges and universities to support the well-being of all student-athletes,” it adds
Mississippi’s Republican governor has signed a discriminatory bill to ban transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender.
“I will sign our bill to protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities,” he tweeted last week.
“It’s crazy we have to address it, but the Biden EO [executive order] forced the issue. Adults? That’s on them. But the push for kids to adopt transgenderism is just wrong.”
Despite Reeves’ claims, legislators pushing the bill gave no evidence of any transgender athletes competing in Mississippi schools or universities.
Legal advocates have previously noted that such bills aren’t actually being requested by constituents, but are driven by national far-right organisations “attempting to sow fear and hate” against the transgender community.
Chase Strangio, ACLU deputy director for transgender justice, said the Mississippi bill “is very vague and seemingly unenforceable” and isn’t really about sport at all.
“Unfortunately, there is already rampant discrimination against trans youth in Mississippi, which means people are already driven out of sport,” he told AP.
“Governor Reeves’ statement makes clear that this isn’t about sports at all, this is about attacking trans youth and stopping kids from being trans — a dangerous project with deadly consequences.”
Commenting on Twitter, Strangio went on to question the governor’s priorities in signing the bill as the state’s capital city enters its fourth week of a water crisis.
The bill is set to become law on 1 July, making Mississippi the first state to enact such a ban this year.
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Many others are expected to follow in its footsteps thanks to a Republican-led “legislative boom” that has seen at least 25 states introduce over 60 bills targeting trans children.
In total, more anti-trans bills were introduced in the first three months of 2021 than any other year so far.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said on Monday that she’s “excited” to sign a bill banning transgender girls and women from participating in sports teams that correspond to their gender identity. Her remarks came just moments after South Dakota became the second U.S. state this year, after Mississippi, to pass legislation targeting transgender sports athletes.
HB 1217 is just one among an overwhelming number of similar bills that specifically restrict the rights of transgender and nonbinary youth, and that are currently advancing out of state legislatures. Last week, the GOP governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, announced that he’d sign Senate Bill 2536 into law, after the legislation passed through both legislative chambers.
The Biden administration has withdrawn government support for a federal lawsuit seeking to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high school sports.
The lawsuit in Connecticut was filed by several cis runners who argue they’ve been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two trans sprinters.
The Trump administration inserted itself into the case last year when then-Attorney General William Barr signed a statement of interest, arguing the state’s policy runs against Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities.
But Biden’s government has now retracted this statement and pulled all support from the anti-trans plaintiffs. “The government has reconsidered the matter,” said Connecticut US Attorney John Durham said on Tuesday (February 23).
Attorneys for the plaintiffs declined to comment.
The Justice Department’s withdrawal came ahead of a Friday hearing in the case over the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The news was celebrated by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who firmly told the AP: “Transgender girls are girls and every woman and girl deserves protection against discrimination. Period.”
Biden had previously signalled he would oversee a reversal of the Trump administration’s anti-trans policies, saying he would “flat out change the law”when he took office.
He made good on this promise in January when he repealed Trump’s trans military ban, and the latest move in Connecticut will be seen as a continuation of these progressive efforts.
Unfortunately this won’t be the end of the matter, as advocates fear a string of anti-trans bills in at least 20 states represents a “coordinated attack”against the American transgender community.
Supporters of such bills argue that transgender girls are naturally stronger, faster and bigger than their cis counterparts.
However, it has been widely noted that any athlete – male or female, transgender or cisgender – can have competitive advantages for multiple reasons besides hormones such as testosterone, including body size, access to training, and more.
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“These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents,” said the Human Rights Campaign. “Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organisations attempting to sow fear and hate.”
Over 800 German footballers have pledged their support to any teammates who may be struggling with their sexuality and afraid to come out while playing.
To date no male footballer has ever come out while actively playing in any of the German professional leagues, a troubling reflection of the homophobia engrained in the sport.×ADVERTISING
This week, hundreds of players decided that needs to change.
“No one should be forced into coming out. That is a personal decision for each individual to make,” the players write in the German football magazine 11Freunde. “However, we want anyone who decides to come out to know they have our full support and solidarity.”
The campaign was signed by the entire squads of multiple Bundesliga clubs, including Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, Schalke, Werder Bremen and Freiburg.
In their message the footballers promise to stand up against any bigotry levied against an LGBT+ player should they choose to come out.
“We say to all who struggle with the decision of coming out: we will support and encourage you, and if necessary, fight against any hostilities you may face,” they vow. “Because you are doing what is right and we are on your side.”
Only two male pro players have ever come out in Germany. The first one, Heinz Bonn, who played in the Bundesliga between 1970 and 1973, was outed posthumously.
Former Stuttgart and Aston Villa star Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay after ending his active career, tweeted that the campaign was “another step in the right direction”.
“I can understand anybody who would prefer not to face up to it,” commentedUnion Berlin striker Max Kruse after the campaign launch. “But if one of my teammates came out, I’d protect him from the idiots out there.”
Former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Gabbi Tuft said she left the house and walked with her “head up high” for the first time Thursday, after she came out as transgender.
She cried when she recalled the moment. “I felt so happy,” she told NBC News. “My hair wasn’t in my face, and I wasn’t clenching my fists and hiding my nails. It just felt so amazing.”
Tuft officially announced the news on social media Thursday. In an Instagram photo, she sat alongside an image of herself prior to her transition. “This is me,” she wrote in the caption. “Unashamed, unabashedly me. This is the side of me that has hidden in the shadows, afraid and fearful of what the world would think; afraid of what my family, friends, and followers would say or do.”
“I am no longer afraid and I am no longer fearful,” she wrote. “I can now say with confidence, that I love myself for WHO I am.”
Tuft wrestled professionally from 2007 to 2014, and appeared in WWE shows “Superstars,” “Raw,” “SmackDown” and “WrestleMania.”She retired from wrestling to spend more time with her wife, Priscilla, and their daughter, and began a career as a fitness coach and motivational speaker, according to a press releaseannouncing Tuft’s coming out.
But behind all of her career success, Tuft said, her mental health suffered. “The previous eight months have been some of the darkest of my entire life,” she wrote in her coming-out post.
“The pain was overwhelming,” she told NBC News, adding that she struggled with suicidal ideation. “I was that person that was always preaching, ‘Never care what people think, go be yourself,’” she said. “Then when it came to be my turn, it was so much more difficult than I ever imagined.”
Eventually, with her wife’s support, she began the process of coming out. She started a “countdown” on Instagram 10 days before her official announcement. Now, she’s inviting her social media followers to ask questions and has promised to be “transparent” about the entire process. With the help of her wife, she has also started a podcast about her transition called “Her.”
Tuft said her process shows that coming out is different for everyone.
“I don’t ever want anyone to think that the way I did it is the way that everyone should do it,” she said. “I don’t think there’s a blueprint for this.”
She said she wants to be open about her transition to help create awareness and understanding. For example, though many transgender people do not want others to use their previous name, also known as their “deadname,” after they come out, Tuft said she isn’t offended by it. The press release announcing her coming out includes both her former name, Gabe, and her WWE stage name, Tyler Reks.
“The rest of the world is transitioning, too, it’s not just me,” she said. “I can’t expect an overnight change from everyone.”
Tuft acknowledged that though her Instagram announcement showed a photo of herself prior to her transition, that’s not something all trans people are comfortable with.
“There’s a lot of people out there that may feel differently about their past,” she said. “They may not embrace the past, because it’s been so painful for them. But I wanted the world to know that I loved who I was — but I love even more who I am today.”
It’s not her job to change people’s minds, she said, but she hopes that by being transparent and sharing her story, people will relate to her and public acceptance for trans people will grow.
“All I want to do is create empathy and maybe through empathy, we can gain some understanding, and we can reduce the amount of fear and then slowly make a change,” Tuft said. “I think the more relatable that I am, the more that we can create that empathy and build a relationship with people that are watching so that they know they’re not alone.”
Since coming out, she said, she’s been surprised by the overwhelming amount of support: Neighbors have knocked on her door to drop off flowers, and she’s received thousands of messages and comments on social media. “It tells me that there is so much love in this world still,” she said.
She said she’s also surprised by the extent of the joy she feels. “I never expected to have an ear-to-ear smile for the last 24 hours, but I can’t get the smile off my face,” she said. “It’s from the heart, and it’s from the soul, and I never expected to feel this elated.”