Hudson Taylor, a three-time NCAA wrestling champion, spoke at CU about GLBTQ rights in sports.
Sponsored by the CU GLBTQ Resource Center, Taylor spoke at 7 p.m. in Eaton Humanities as a part of GLBTQ History Month. Taylor is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Athlete Ally that is dedicated to encouraging straight athletes to speak out against homophobia and transphobia in sports.
He spoke about his current support for the GLBTQ community, although Taylor said he didn’t always feel the same way he does now.
“For the last couple of years of my life, I have been an out-loud, proud ally of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t always an ally.”
The sports culture Taylor was brought up in affected him and his view of GLBTQ rights.
“I was raised in a culture of sport that taught me that to be a successful male athlete, you have to be masculine,” he said. “In order to be masculine, you have to be straight.”
Taylor faced personal obstacles, including his family’s reaction to his decision to stand up for GLBTQ rights in sports.
“For so many years, I thought I should just stay out of it, stay silent because it would only make matters worse,” he said.
Taylor took small steps to become an advocate for GLBTQ rights, starting with utilizing Facebook as a tool to spread the word of homophobia in sports. During his senior year of college at the University of Maryland, he wore a Human Rights Campaign sticker to show his support of the GLBTQ community.
Taylor received over 2,000 emails the morning after an interview was published about him wearing the sticker and about his advocacy of GLBTQ rights. The emails were from closeted kids across the country reaching out to Taylor, and they inspired him to start his nonprofit organization, Athlete Ally.
As both a student athlete and CU’s ambassador for Athlete Ally, Sean Espinoza, a 23-year-old senior broadcast news major, organized Taylor’s speech at CU.
“I got involved with Athlete Ally two years ago,” Espinoza said. “I’ve been working on getting Athlete Ally involved with CU and bringing [Hudson Taylor] to campus for a little over a year and a half.”
Espinoza said that seeing CU’s athletes support the Athlete Ally cause motivated him to keep moving forward with the program.
“Seeing all of the athletes here was truly inspiring to me, and I think as long as we touched some athletes or even one, it was totally worth it, because like he said, there is strength in numbers,” Espinoza said. “I really think we’re going to be moving towards the right way for inclusion.”
Jamee Swan, an 18-year-old freshman open-option major, plays for the CU basketball team and was an attendee of the event.
“I thought it was really great to have someone come in and talk to our school about something that people usually don’t talk about,” Swan said. “I feel like it opened the door for athletes at our university to be able to talk about things that aren’t usually talked about without being ridiculed.”
Taylor left the audience with an idea of alliance towards the GLBTQ athletic community.
“The culture we create today affects the people of tomorrow,” Taylor said. “Allyship matters.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.firstname.lastname@example.org.