Michael Sam, gay player drafted in NFL, to speak at UNM

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) | Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in any major U.S. sport, is scheduled to speak at the University of New Mexico.

The former University of Missouri football standout is slated to address student on Feb. 12, in Albuquerque. Sam is expected to tell students how to use personal strengths to pursue one’s own dreams.

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Kansas group plans to commemorate 50th anniversary of gay rights meeting

By : Wire Report
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City group is making plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a national gathering of LGBT activists that is credited with helping to kick off the gay rights movement.

In February of 1966, the activists gathered at a downtown Kansas City hotel. The meeting led to the “The Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom,” which opened an LGBT community center and began a publication that was distributed nationally.

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Deion Sanders: Gay ‘could be’ a choice

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Former NFL star Deion Sanders isn’t convinced that people are biologically gay. He’s not convinced that they choose to be gay either.

But that didn’t stop the hall of famer from discussing the topic of homosexuality and University of Missouri recruit Michael Sam during a recent interview with Larry King.

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Michael Sam receives Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPY 2014

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Los Angeles, CA – At the 2014 ESPY Awards, Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

He gave a very emotional five-minute speech after accepting the award from presenter Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, where he emphasize on going after your dreams no matter what people say or think.

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Rams sign Sam to four-year contract

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Earth City, Mo. – Michael Sam has once again made history and is now the first-ever openly gay player in the NFL. The University of Missouri-Columbia MVP was drafted in May by the St. Louis Rams and was signed June 12, along with the entire 2014 draft class.

Through a tweet on June 12, the Rams organization announced that it had signed all 11 players selected by the team in the 2014 NFL draft, including Sam. A first-team All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, Sam signed a four-year, $2.65 million contract, with $46,000 of it guaranteed, reported Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. All of the Rams’ rookie signees went through some financial education before signing their deals.

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Gay advocacy groups join forces for sports equality

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When former University of Missouri defensive end and potential NFL draft pick Michael Sam shared that he was gay on ESPN’s Outside the Lines in February, representatives from GLAAD and You can Play Project saw a chance for a transformative moment.

GLAAD, which promotes a positive and accurate media portrayal LGBT people, helped You Can Play and its executive director, Wade Davis, craft a message on the importance of LGBT visibility and acceptance in sports.

“It was a time where GLAAD really stepped in there said, ‘Hey Wade, let us handle the media aspect of it, and we’ll really work as a team to talk about messaging,'” Davis told USA Today.

Five weeks after Sam’s announcement, the two organizations christened an official partnership that will marry one of the nation’s leading gay advocacy groups with an organization in You Can Play designed to promote equality for athletes regardless of sexual orientation.

With Sam as the latest example, it’s vital now more than ever that organizations like GLAAD and You Can Play unite to help lead the discussion on what has proven to be a controversial topic, Davis said.

“One of the biggest things is that there are so many LGBT athletes who are now stepping out and announcing their sexuality,” he said. “Let’s make sure the reporting on this is done in a way where the story about sports can be told as it intersects with LGBT athletes.”

USA Today quoted Davis as saying, “I’ve always been a firm believer that sports is a space that is accepting of people who are different, whether it’s someone of a different race, a different class, a different religion. So one of our biggest goals is to really shine a light on what effect sports can have on creating better understanding of LGBT individuals.”

For GLAAD, the collaboration with You Can Play marks the first full-scale foray into the world of sports—an arena wrongly labeled as inhospitable to the gay community, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said.

“One of the things that we’d love to do is debunk some of these myths around the locker room issues, and the myth perception that the professional sporting world is homophobic, when in fact it’s a very inclusive world, and it has been,” Ellis said. “I think that played out with Michael Sam. But that trickles down, that myth perception trickles down to the local level, to the soccer fields and the baseball fields in our local communities. We want to make sure that we’re changing that conversation.”

In addition to helping foster a positive image of LGBT individuals in sports, both GLAAD and You Can Play hope an upcoming national campaign can also bridge the gap between sports and the LGBT community.

“It’s also an opportunity for LGBT organizations to really learn about the sports world. I think that was something that was always lacking,” Davis added. “There’s always been this disconnect between sports and LGBT individuals, so we’re really happy that we can combine our forces to educate both sides. So we’re educating the sports world about LGBT individuals and vice versa.”

University of Missouri football star comes out

By : Staff Report
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Columbia, Mo. – Michael Sam, 24, made sports history over the Feb. 8 weekend as he became the first Division I College football player to publicly say he is gay.

The University of Missouri player Sam has made the public announcement months before this season’s NFL draft in May, where he is predicted to be chosen in one of the early- to mid-rounds. He was named 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year during his senior year and also helped Missouri finish with a 12-2 season and Cotton Bowl win.

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2.13.14 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotThe NFL finally received the test it’s deserved for so long, requiring the organization to look at itself squarely in the mirror and ask if it’s ready for a gay player among its ranks.

It’s a stupid question, really. There have been gay players in the NFL before, and there probably were in the most recent season. The law of statistics proves that, even though none have made a public proclamation about their sexuality. We are everywhere, whether a macho-sports world wants to admit that or not.

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8.29.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotFour years is a long time. Granted, it’s not a milestone by any means and doesn’t really qualify for grand celebrations (unless you just secured a term as President). But it takes as many years to graduate from high school and the same number of full years to complete college – at least for a typical full-time student in search of a Bachelors’ Degree.

So it struck me earlier this month when someone asked me how long I had been editor of Watermark that I responded with “four years at the end of August.” Time seems to have rushed past me in a gust of wind.

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University of Missouri-Kansas City offers scholarships to gay students

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Some gay students who face financial trouble, often because of rejection from their families, are getting help from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The university offers Pride Scholarships to gay students who are struggling to pay their bills, as well as straight students who lose money because of their support for their gay counterparts.

One of this year’s three recipients, Caleb-Michael Files, 21, said he probably wouldn’t have returned to school this year if he hadn’t been awarded $2,000 for each semester, The Kansas City Star reported. The amount of the scholarships varies depending on the student’s circumstances.

University officials have awarded eight scholarships since creating the program four years ago, when they noticed gay students often struggled with acceptance.

“This year was the greatest need we’ve seen,” says Kristi Ryujin, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for diversity, access and equity. “We have a long way to go still.”

Files, a political science and communication studies major, said he became a ward of the court when he and his twin sister turned 2 and then lived with cousins for several years. He attended 21 schools before entering seventh grade, finally graduating from high school in Knob Noster.

“Gay students, especially, have issues with coming out and support,” Files said. “My parents aren’t in the picture. My guardians aren’t in the picture.”

He was managing to support himself until late 2011, when he lost his job as a resident adviser for LGBT and women’s issues in the university residence halls. He also had no place to live and said he “barely” hung on through the rest of the school year.

He supplements the scholarship money with a job as a graphic designer in a campus office, and until recently he was an editor at the student newspaper.

“I would not be doing as well academically as I am this semester” without the scholarship, said Files, who estimated he would be working 60 to 80 hours a week to pay his bills.

Files said the two other recipients this year were both cut off by their families. One of them was living in a “camp space,” Ryujin said.

Ryujin’s office also keeps tabs on the students and connects them with other campus resources, such as the university’s counseling center. Missouri-Kansas City also has a Pride Alliance student group and a related resources center.

“It’s really a scooping up and holding of the students, making sure they have the financial and personal support mechanisms they need to be successful,” she said.

National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association president dies

By : Wire Report
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The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association says its president, Michael Triplett, has died. Triplett, who was an assistant managing editor at Bloomberg BNA, was 48.

The association said in an email that Triplett had cancer and died Thursday. A spokeswoman for Bloomberg BNA said he died in Alabama, where he was visiting family. He lived in Washington.

Triplett was a board member and then president of the Washington chapter of NLGJA. He became president of the national group last year.

Triplett worked on the daily tax report at Bloomberg BNA. He had worked with BNA since 2000. BNA was acquired by Bloomberg in 2011.

He was a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the American University Washington College of Law.

10.13.11 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotIn October 1998, the world first learned the story of a young college-aged man who was brutally attacked, tied to a fence post and left to die in the cold Wyoming prarie. The bicyclist who found Matthew Shepard clinging to life nearly 18 hours later was later quoted as saying the bloodied 21-year-old appeared so lifeless that he thought the young gay man was a scarecrow.

The story horrified the nation, inspired a dramatic play and spawned the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act that finally saw a presidential pen to paper 11 years later.

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