How This Columbia Wrestling Coach Is Fighting Homophobia in the Sports World

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He's on a quest to change the language of the locker-room. 

As a freshman at the University of Maryland, Hudson Taylor noticed a problem. An All-American wrestler, and drama major, Taylor started to take another look at the seemingly innocuous locker-room banter of his wrestling team. As his friends starting coming out as gay, he realized, "Seeing them take that step to being truer to themselves really made it personal in a way that it hadn't been before. Then to go back to the locker room, back to the people who I should've been most in line with, and hear them use homophobic and demeaning language, made me realize this wasn't what I wanted of my sport and it wasn't what I wanted of my teammates. I realized that I was in a unique position to do something about it." 

In January 2011 he and his wife, Lia Parifax, a graduate of the George Washington University Law School, founded Athlete Ally, a non-profit focused on educating and empowering straight allies in sports to speak out about homophobia and transphobia. With the recent controversy over Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam's coming out as gay and the subsequent lobbyist's attempt to propose a bill to ban homosexual NFL players from changing in the same locker-rooms as straight players, it is clear that programs like this are still needed to raise awareness about homophobia in the athletic world. 

Now a wrestling coach at Columbia University, Taylor travels around the country speaking to athletic departments, athletes, and coaches to make athletes conscious of the words they're using and foster a sense of unity between LGBTQ athletes and allies. His program now includes 15,000 members including 100 professional sports athletes from Andy Roddick and D’Qwell Jackson to Yogi Berra. As Former Congressman Barney Frank noted in his profile in Vanity Fair, Taylor "recently traveled to the Sochi Olympics, in Russia, in order to challenge that country’s anti-gay laws and build support for L.G.B.T. athletes everywhere" using Principle 6 of the Olympic charter, which states: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

[h/t Vanity Fair]

Image via Youtube.