The best LGBTQ athletes around the world
Baseball pioneer Maybelle Blair comes out at the age of 95
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The world of sports is still largely considered homophobic and transphobic. It's no surprise then that very few athletes in top leagues choose to come out while playing. Fortunately, we've started to see changes in recent years—just consider the amount of out Olympians lately. Of course, there are pioneers who came out long before we were even having these conversations, like tennis legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. And those who chose to come out after their careers ended are trailblazers too, pushing the conversation forward. It takes a village!
Maybelle Blair was a player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which only existed between 1943 to 1954 while most men were involved in the military during World War II. Her professional baseball career was short-lived and she moved on to a softball league, but her work behind the scenes was instrumental in raising the profile of women in sport. Blair served on the board of the AAGPBL Players Association when it was founded in the 1980s and succeeded in bringing the story of women's baseball into the spotlight. Eventually, a Women in Baseball section was added to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Blair is now 95 years old, but has been assisting Amazon Prime in producing their new series 'A League of Their Own." The show is an adaptation of the 1992 movie of the same name, but tells the story of the women who played professional baseball during World War II.
During a press event for the show, Blair surprised the audience by coming out as gay publicly for the first time. She later revealed that she hadn't planned to come out so it was a surprise to her too! “I couldn't believe it because I knew my family might disown me,” she explained. “I didn’t know what would take place, but I thought it was my self respect that I do tell and that these young little girls and boys, you know, shouldn't have to hide what they feel and how they are to have to go through what I had to go through in my day.” Luckily, Blair was met with outpourings of love and acceptance from her friends and family.
Click on to see other gifted athletes from around the world, of times past and present, who came out as LGBTQ.
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