Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hudson Taylor and Athlete Ally

Many of you have probably noticed two very attractive men in many of my photos….Thomas Roberts and Hudson Taylor.  Sorry ladies and gentlemen – both taken.  ;-)  Thomas got his time to shine in my blogs; on to Hudson.  Hudson Taylor is a quickly rising face of equality in sports, a leader in this movement of respecting diversity, and a fearless straight ally whom I admire and am proud to call a friend.  

I met Hudson at the PFLAG National Straight for Equality dinner when he was the recipient of the SfE in Sports Award. He graduated from the University of Maryland as a Division I three-time All-American wrestler in 2010 and currently ranks among the top-five pinners in NCAA history.  He's now a wrestling coach at Columbia University.  He is also the founder of Athlete Ally, his non-profit that raises awareness of equality on sports, holds athletes, coaches and fans accountable through his mission and pledge, and emphasizes the importance of straight allies in the locker room who allow LGBTQ athletes to feel safe, supported and equal contributors of the team without bias or discrimination.

I was able to join Hudson and his beautiful fiancĂ© Lia on the trip down to Asbury Park, NJ for the first fundraiser for Athlete Ally.  We had a great turnout of supporters, lawyers and politicians, sponsored by the pro-bono law firm who works with Athlete Ally’s legal work.  It was amazing to hear the influence that the voice of a 23-year-old straight athlete can and has had on adults and their openness about their own sexual orientation.  The cool thing about Hudson is that he doesn’t have a family member and did not have close friends who were gay.  Instead, he saw this respect and support of people as equals regardless of their orientation or expression as the right thing to do.  It IS the right thing to do.  You can support Athlete Ally by visiting the website, taking the pledge and sharing with your community’s coaches and athletes in order to make the locker rooms and the fields safe for everyone.

I pledge to lead my athletic community to respect and welcome all persons, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Beginning right now, I will do my part to promote the best of athletics by making all players feel respected on and off the field.


Ok, so life went on, and blogosphere got stuck in one place for me.  Apologies.  I wanted to still fill you in on what happened at the end of my year as Miss NY. AND, I’m a detail-oriented person and can’t just skip to the Miss NY farewell and reflection part without finishing up the blogs.

Just before I gave up my title, I went to Purchase, NY to speak at the PepsiCo headquarters to celebrate June 1st, the beginning of Pride Month with their LGBT affinity group, EQUAL.  Attending were many more people than just the group – people from their mailing list who came just to hear the talk. Similar to UBS, we talked about normalcy in the workplace – the ability to stop at the copy machine and speak openly about a weekend trip to the Hamptons with your significant other, or the ability to place a framed photo on your desk and not have to say “uhh, yes, that’s my cousin or best friend.”  I loved glancing down at this part of my speech because I was able to recognize Patrice, a woman I had spent some time with before my presentation, who had a framed picture of her and her wife not only on her desk, but facing outward towards those visiting her.  It is such a small thing, but a power statement of equality in the workplace. 

I had a great time a PepsiCo and was introduced further to the need and availability of corporate Diversity and Inclusion job prospective.  As I get ready to go to Georgetown University for my Masters in Public Relations and Corporate Communications, I believe this will prepare me for opportunities in that field.  Thank you to Lori for arranging this appearance, Patrice for wonderful conversation AND my PepsiCo exercise ball, and to all of those who attended and who strive for equality in the workplace at Pepsi.  Oh, and for my honorary softball team membership J

Also, as a little fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and furthering our partnership with Costco for Miss New York week sponsorship, Kimberly Cantoni, Miss Liberty, and I signed autographs and took lots of photos at the Staten Island Costco. Yet another way to engage the local community and get them excited for the pageant's new home!