Great news: NFL punter and outspoken LGBT ally Chris Kluwe has been signed by the Oakland Raiders, according to a report by his friend and fellow pro-equality football star Brendon Ayanbadejo at Fox Sports:
Kluwe, who was released by the Minnesota Vikings on May 6, will step in for Pro Bowler Shane Lechler, who left Oakland for the Houston Texans via free agency. Kluwe’s contract is for one year, and is for the league minimum…
The 31-year-old Kluwe averaged 45.0 yards on 72 punts last season as a Viking. Kluwe is the all-time Vikings leader in average yards per punt (44.4) and second all-time in total punt yards (27,683) and total punts (623). Kluwe is arguably the greatest punter in franchise history…
Kluwe is known for his mind and mouth, as well as his leg. He is a vocal advocate of equality in sports (and life), and says he will continue to speak for what he believes.
“I’m still going to be myself socially and continue to tweet and interact with my fans,” Kluwe said. Continue reading →
I’ve gotten a lot of flack (and a few football lectures to boot) about my recentpost in which I reported on speculation from several NFL watchers and Minnesota sports insiders that NFL punter Chris Kluwe’s pro-LGBT activism may have played a role in the Minnesota Vikings’ decision to cut him earlier this week.
But another notable voice has joined the chorus: Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
“Yeah, I don’t feel good about it,” said Dayton when asked about the Minnesota Vikings decision to release outspoken punter Chris Kluwe on Monday.
“I’m not in a position to evaluate the relative punting abilities, but it seems to me the general manager said, right after the draft, they were going to have competition,” Dayton recalled. “Well, they bring the one guy in, he kicks for a weekend and that’s competition?” Continue reading →
NFL stars and LGBT allies Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo today filed a joint Supreme Court brief in support of the overturn of Proposition 8. From the brief’s introduction:
Sports figures receive a celebrity status that influences a large majority of the American population. For far too long, professional sports have been a bastion of bigotry, intolerance, and small-minded prejudice toward sexual orientation, just as they had been to racial differences decades earlier. That is finally changing, and changing drastically. The NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA, at the league level, team level, and individual level, are finally speaking out against homophobia and intolerance of LBGTQ individuals. More and more of us realize that using demeaning slur words like “faggot,” “queer,” and “gay” can have serious, negative consequences. Not necessarily consequences for us. Instead, consequences for the children and adults who look up to us as role models and leaders. Consequences for children and adults who mimic our behavior when they interact with others. And consequences that can be severe, long-lasting, and not infrequently lead to suicide and other serious harm.
You know we’ve reached a tipping point on LGBT rights when an NFL player wins the Super Bowl and, instead of thinking about all the lucrative endorsement deals he’ll be able to score, he hits the airwaves to use his newly enlarged platform to advocate for equality.
But that’s exactly what Baltimore Ravens linebacker (and Super Bowl champion) Brendon Ayanbadejo is doing this week. He’s been an out and proud LGBT ally for awhile now, but Brendon isn’t letting something as trivial as, ummm, winning the Super Bowl tire him out. Yesterday he gave CNN’s Don Lemon what may be my favorite interview of the year so far — Lemon opened by asking Ayanbadejo why he chose the Super Bowl as a time to talk about marriage equality, and Ayanbadejo responded:
Well, I don’t really consider it gay rights, I just call it rights. Everyone deserves to be treated equally.
And it just gets better from there. Ayanbadejo brilliantly explains why LGBT rights are civil rights and makes a point of expanding the conversation to include gender identity and expression. Watch below:
As On Top Magazinepoints out, by bringing attention to the plight of transgender Americans, Ayanbadejo is likely signaling his support for a law currently being considered by the Maryland General Assembly that would expand workplace protections by adding gender identity to the list of protected categories alongside race, gender, religion, etc.
The Ravens linebacker also published an op-ed in today’s edition of USA Today — the nation’s second-largest newspaper by circulation — in which he calls for the end of homophobia in professional sports and challenges his fellow athletes in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB to create an LGBT-affirming athletic climate that will “pave the way” for “the first openly gay man in U.S. major professional sports.”
Equally outspoken in his advocacy is fellow NFL player Chris Kluwe, a punter for the Minnesota Vikings. You may remember Kluwe for writing a brilliantly biting defense of Ayanbadejo after a Maryland politician attacked him for supporting equal marriage rights (or for putting two particularly memorable phrases from that column onto T-shirts and selling them to raise money for an LGBT rights group in Minnesota, or for dexterously excoriating Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt after he essentially told the mother of a gay son that she’d have to choose between accepting her son and saving her soul, or… well, you get the idea.). Kluwe talked yesterday with MSNBC’s ThomasRoberts about the importance of speaking out for equality:
Kluwe reiterated his support for Ayanbadejo and his call for an LGBT-inclusive sports environment in a statement given to BuzzFeed‘s Chris Geidner:
I stand with Brendon and every other person, athlete and non-athlete alike, who says that discrimination in any form is not the legacy we will hand down to our children. I am proud to be an Athlete Ally, and I hope others will join us in treating all people with compassion, dignity, and respect. A gay player in sports is not defined by their sexuality, but by how they play, and I support any player who wishes to be him or herself with everything I have. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Treat others the way you want to be treated — it really is as simple as that. Here’s hoping that more professional athletes follow the example set by Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo so that one day, very soon, gay athletes will feel safe, comfortable, and supported enough to come out of the closet while they’re still active players, rather than waiting until they’ve retired to do so.
Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe — the witty and outspoken straight ally who raked an anti-LGBT Maryland politician over the coals this summer and recently dressed down anti-gay Twin Cities Catholic archbishop John Nienstedt — isn’t just burning up the airwaves and the Internets in his efforts to help beat back a marriage discrimination amendment in Minnesota.
No, he’s also raising money for Minnesotans for Equality, an organization working to stop the amendment. And he’s doing it in a novel way: by slapping one of his most memorable phrases on T-shirts, selling them, and donating the proceeds. The phrase in question is “Lustful Cockmonster,” which you may remember him using as he described to Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. everything that marriage equality would not do:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?
Outsports.com reports that proceeds from the shirts, which can be purchased here, will be split between Minnesotans for Equality and Kick for a Cure, a charity Kluwe works with that benefits kids with muscular dystrophy. The T-shirts also appear to be quite popular: as of Wednesday, there was already a two-week back order.
Want to support Kluwe’s activism, but aren’t exactly keen on wearing the word “cockmonster” across your chest? Never fear! Kluwe also released a PG version of his famous letter to Burns where another insult was replaced with “beautifully unique sparklepony,” and you guessed it — you can purchase a “beautifully unique sparklepony” shirt, too.
Earlier this week, I reported on a 2010 letter written by Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt to the mother of a gay son. When the woman contacted him and pleaded for acceptance on her son’s behalf, Nienstedt responded by warning that her eternal salvation was potentially at risk unless she changed her view and accepted the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings — essentially demanding that she choose between accepting her son and saving her soul.
The awful story apparently caused enough of a stir to attract the attention of Chris Kluwe, a Minnesota Vikings football star who also happens to be an amazing spokesperson for marriage equality. This outspoken ally responded in an eloquent letter to Nienstedt and Pope Benedict XVI that Kluwe posted on his blog:
Do you presume to speak for God, Archbishop Nienstedt? Will you tell these children, faithful children who attend Sunday school and earnestly pray every day, that they are somehow lessened in God’s eyes? Will you grasp that millstone, Archbishop Nienstedt, grasp it all the way to the bottom, clutching at the heavy weight of earthly power and influence even as it drags you down?
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
“Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Tell me, Archbishop, Pope, what purpose does the Church serve attempting to influence the affairs of a secular state? The federal benefits under law currently denied gay couples certainly fall under the realm of Caesar, don’t they? No one is forcing the Catholic Church to marry gay couples if that is not the Church’s wish. You can keep the sanctity of Catholic marriage solely between heterosexual couples if you feel that is what’s required (again though, I caution you on the dangers of presumed infallibility). All we are asking is for you to extend the open hand of tolerance instead of the closed fist of fear and hate. As American citizens, we respect the right for everyone to practice whichever religion they so choose, including the right to not practice one at all. Haven’t we learned enough from the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Talibans of the world? What does it benefit the Church to attempt to influence secular policy in this country, especially when that influence is to deny basic human rights to others? Will you now assume Caesar’s throne, grasping the transitory ephemera of worldly power and control, while forsaking the eternal kingdom of Heaven?
I’m not a religious man, but the only thing I can think to say in response is a big, resounding “amen!”