Major League Baseball’s Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean.
When former professional baseball player Billy Bean was appointed Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion last July, the Phillies were among the first teams to invite the openly gay speaker to share his message of inclusivity. According to MLB.com, he showed up this afternoon to speak to members of the Phillies’ Major and Minor League teams on embracing all forms of acceptance.
“There’s a message of complete acceptance. It doesn’t mean that it’s specifically to LGBT people like myself. It’s for women. It’s for every race, every religion,” Bean said.
Bean has been invited to speak to 14 teams, but Philadelphia is the first camp where he spoke to both Major and Minor League Players. When he was finished, he played ball with teammates in the outfield, giving them a chance to answer questions in a one-on-one setting. “Today is a win for the Phillies,” Bean said. “The world didn’t stop spinning.”
Openly gay former NFL player Wade Davis is coming to Philly tomorrow to speak at Philadelphia FIGHT’s 2014 FIGHT For Life Gala, a fundraiser for the organization’s mission to destroy HIV in Philly and beyond. Before he takes that stage, though, he’s going to warm up with a quick game of dodge ball with some of FIGHT’s youth.
She’s 99 years old, 4 feet 6 inches, 83 pounds, and Ida Keeling has endurance that defies the ages. The great-great grandmother from the Bronx competed in the Gay Games last week, finishing the 100-meter race in 59.8 seconds—a time that her coach and daughter Shelly says is the fastest that’s ever been recorded in a internationally certified race by someone her age.
Huffington Post reports that this is Keeling’s first Gay Games, and she took up running after two of her sons were killed 30 years ago in drug-related instances.
Her secret to staying in shape?
“Do what you need to do, not what you want to do and don’t leave out your daily exercise. Love yourself.”
Reports from Gay Games in Cleveland and Akron are pouring in, and Team Philadelphia continues to haul in the medals—golds, silvers, bronzes, you name it. Here’s a recap of today’s winners, reported to me from Team Philadelphia Chair Bob Szwajkos and GO! Athletes Executive Director Anna Aagenes.
Team Philadelphia is now a triple winner in softball. City of Brotherly Love Softball League (CBLSL)’s Honeybadgers (pictured) took gold this afternoon at Firestone Park in Akron. I told you yesterday that CBLSL’s men’s team, and the Fairmount Fillies also took gold in their respective tournaments.
Anna Aagenescontinues to kick ass in track and field. She won first place in today’s 800m—in her age group (18-29) and overall. She also won gold in yesterday’s 5K.
The Fairmount Fillies show of their gold, and a few No. 1 fingers.
Team Philadelphia is having a hell of a day at the Gay Games in Cleveland. This morning we reported that track and field runner Anna Aagenes took home gold in the age 18-29 women’s 5K, and now I’m getting word that two more teams have scored that most precious of medals.
When I started blogging for G Philly last year, I knew the experience would teach me many things. I did not, however, expect one of those things to be sports. Last night I stopped by the William Way Community Center, where Team Philadelphia Chair Bob Szwajkos was handing out t-shirts and other supplies to the nearly 60 local athletes heading to the Gay Games this weekend in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Throughout the course of the evening I chatted up some of the players, learning all kinds of things that I never knew before: how to spell shot put (which seems obvious, but it looks so weird spelled out, huh?), that throwing a javelin requires you to be able to twerk, and, well, I learned that I have a few new Man Crush Monday entries to add to my growing list.
I also learned that this will be Szwajkos’s last Gay Games as chair of Team Philadelphia. He tells me he will step down after four years to concentrate on writing a book about the history of gay sports in Philadelphia. (We’ll touch more on that down the road.)
For now, check out these snapshots of some of the athletes I met. I wanted to share them so you’d know who to root for next week when they’re in Ohio taking on LGBT competitors from across the globe in every sport from softball to hammer-throwing to soccer. Get to know some of them in the slideshow below, and be sure to check back to G Philly next week for updates on how our local teams are doing on the scoreboards.
Members of Philadelphia Fusion, the reigning gold medal winners in softball at the Gay Games. From L-R: Jeff Sotland, Kevin Armstrong, Bob Lenahan, and Pete Clark.
Heather Scanlon is a Track and Field competitor. She will perform in the shot put, javelin, hammer-throwing, and discus competitions.
Two other Track and Field competitors, Brian Arcedera and Anna Aagenes. Arcedera will go for the gold in sprints, mid-distance, and climbing, while Aagenes takes on the 800- and 1500-meter relays.
Ryan Merrigan is competing with two teams: Philadelphia Falcons (soccer), and Philadelphia Fusion (softball.)
Robert Szwajkos will compete in golf.
Kurt Douglass, who was there to help Szwajkos pass out t-shirts, will play tennis.
5K half-marathon runner Kurt Schulthise
I'm so sorry I caught you with your eyes closed, Walter Beck. I wish you the best of luck with the Falcons soccer team.
Szwajkos and Douglass show off a t-shirt for the Paris games in 2018, which local athletes will wear to the closing ceremony in Ohio next week. Szwajkos was particularly proud of that shirt, "because no team has been to the closing ceremonies wearing a t-shirt for the next Gay Games."
After four years of training, fundraising, and playing, 60 local athletes will be heading to Gay Games 9 this week in Cleveland/Akron, Ohio. The weeklong event, held every four years, will comprise every type of sport imaginable. Team Philadelphia athletes, for example, will be competing against teams from around the world in everything from soccer and billiards to track and rodeo.
Team Philadelphia is an official delegate to the Federation of Gay Games. Our athletes will be there for the opening ceremony on Saturday, August 9th, sporting a new t-shirt with a logo designed by members of The Attic Youth Center and several local teams. The design recalls a cross-section in the Gayborhood, street signs emblazoned with the words “Team” and “Philadelphia.” A little taste of home to get the local spirit flowing.
With athletes like Michael Sam, Tom Daley, and Brittney Griner coming out of the closet this year, there’s never been a bigger moment for LGBT sports. Stay tuned to G Philly for more coverage of the games. For now, though, we wish our athletes the heartiest of rah-rah-rahs!
After years of speculation, Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, 31, announced he was gay (or, “not straight,” as he put it) during a television interview which aired Sunday evening. He claimed during the interview that it wasn’t until the last two weeks that he could actually articulate his own sexuality.