Target: Baltimore Ravens Linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo
Goal: Commend American football player for his continuing support of same-sex marriage
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been outspoken in his support of marriage equality for several years and has been working with gay rights groups in Maryland to encourage support from the state’s citizens. Ayanbadejo should be commended for his public defense of equal rights, and other prominent athletes should be encouraged to do the same.
Ayanbadejo first made his views public in 2009 when he wrote an article criticizing President Obama for failing to come out in support of same-sex marriage. At that time, he was one of very few professional American athletes to openly support gay rights, and he faced harassment both from NFL fans and from players on his own team.
Ayanbadejo’s stance recently gained publicity after a Maryland legislator wrote a letter to the owner of the team demanding that they prevent him from publicly expressing his views. The Ravens have continued to be supportive of Ayanbadejo in spite of pressure from the politician. A handful of other NFL players have come out publicly in his defense and to defend gay rights, along with many fans and other players who have shown their appreciation and support privately.
Professional sport has traditionally discouraged players from supporting gay rights and prevented gay athletes from making their sexuality public. Having a professional athlete as an ally could have a major impact on harassment in sports and help to fight discrimination and bullying around the country. As Ayanbadejo has stated, athletes have a responsibility to use their platform to help others and to support the causes they deem most important. We have a responsibility to support those who make positive use of their fame in order to keep our society moving toward equality.
Dear Brendon Ayanbadejo,
I am writing to commend you for your continuing support of gay rights. Even though you have faced harassment and disapproval in the past, you have continued to stand by your beliefs and work with organizations to spread the ideas of compassion and equality to the public. It is also commendable that you did not allow a powerful politician to silence you and deny your right to free speech.
Your public support of equality has influenced other athletes to do the same, and it has created an environment in which it is acceptable for athletes to be LGBT allies while still being respected by the greater sports community. This increase in support for gay rights among athletes will encourage sports fans to bring about change in their own communities and hopefully lead to a decrease in anti-gay bullying.
I hope you continue to be an outspoken activist for equality and that other athletes will follow in your footsteps to help end anti-gay discrimination and violence throughout the country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Schipul.com.