SAN FRANCISCO - January 15, 2013—The Last Closet, a web-based campaign and video project to combat homophobia in sports, launched a new campaign today asking professional sports team owners to speak out about this important issue.
This is the second in a series of campaigns that are designed to promote dialogue about homophobia amongst the sports hierarchy and help pave the way for the first athlete in one of the top five American pro sports leagues to come out publicly while actively playing. The owners campaign follows acommissioners campaign that achieved considerable success in a short period of time.
Through an aggressive social media campaign that utilizes the TLC website, Facebook, Twitter, email blasts, and phone outreach, The Last Closet hopes to send a clear message to owners: the time to speak out in support of LGBT athletes is now.
The Last Closet is approaching several owners in each of the five major sports requesting an on-camera interview. Of this group, TLC has selected five men as primary interview targets due to theirstrong commitment to LGBT issues and their inclination to be an ally in the effort to end homophobia in men's pro sports.
The five owners are:
Francisco Aquilini, Vancouver Canucks, NHL
Larry Baer, San Francisco Giants, MLB
Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks, NBA
Robert Kraft, New England Patriots, NFL
Merritt Paulson, Portland Timbers, MLS
As the leaders of their respective teams, these men are in a unique position to change the culture of their organization and sport and make it more inclusive. Their words carry weight and hearing them speak out against homophobia would have a particularly strong impact on LGBT youth who harbor dreams of becoming a professional athlete.
In an interview with The Last Closet, Aaron McQuade, GLAAD media director stressed the importance of owners supporting a gay player on their team:
"We know the culture of the leagues tend to come down from the top but the culture of a team is so tightly knit. For an ownership group and a manager and a GM to all be on the same page and to all say 'yes, not only will we 100% take a chance on a gay player on draft day but if someone in our locker room were to come out they would have the support of this team, and its ownership 110%, and if anyone gives them trouble — they're out…we won't tolerate homophobia.' That would be an amazing step."
The Last Closet is a production of WomanVision, an award-winning documentary film company that promotes the values of understanding and diversity, providing positive role models and supportive images of societally marginalized people. Woman Vision's most recent film, Training Rules, has won numerous awards and has been broadcast nationally. Woman Vision is a 501(c)3 Public Charity.