CAMPUSPEAK


Hudson Taylor Photo

During his final season as an NCAA All-American and team wrestling captain at The University of Maryland, Hudson Taylor decided that his closest-held values as a leader and student-athlete required that he stand up and say something about the homophobia and transphobia he experienced in locker rooms and on playing fields across the nation.

Like many college students, he had seen close friends struggle with the coming out process, often inhibited by the fear they had about disclosing their sexual orientation.

“I could no longer watch from the sidelines as this culture isolated and segregated LGBT athletes and fans and betrayed the integrity and diversity at the heart of athletics,” he said.

To show his solidarity as a straight ally, he wore an LGBT rights sticker on his wrestling headgear. That single act drew turned a lot of heads. Spectators, opponents, coaches and others wondered if Hudson was making a statement about his own sexuality.

It never seemed odd to him that an All-American college wrestler couldn’t also be a very effective LGBT rights advocate. It only seemed odd to him that more people couldn’t stand up for the rights of others.

“Athletics should be a safe space for everybody,” Hudson said. “It’s really just that simple. I believe athletic communities are ready to deal honestly with this issue.”

Thousands of appreciative emails from closeted athletes, parents and other members of the LGBT community began pouring in. Hudson came to realize a much deeper reality—that allies willing to stick their necks out are an integral part of eliminating hate and prejudice. He thought about how much empowerment could come if more people stood up as allies for their friends and peers who are LGBT.

Hudson went on to form Athlete Ally, a nonprofit sports organization that calls on athletes, coaches, school administrators, parents and fans to champion respect and inclusion at every level of athletics. He has spoken at dozens of high schools and colleges—to faculty, students, coaches and administrators. The organization’s website at www.athleteally.org has become a true resource not only for LGBT athletes, but also for athletic departments of all levels looking to combat homophobia. More than 4,000 student-athletes have signed the pledge at the site to be allies.

Hudson recently received the PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays) Straight for Equality Award and was named “Greatest Person of the Day” in 2011 by the Huffington Post. Also in 2011, he was honored by Buick and the NCAA with a film short highlighting his educational efforts. When he’s not touring and speaking, his “day job” is as a wrestling coach at Columbia University in New York City.

Hudson's talk in front of 400 Marist College student-athletes helped break down stereotypes and powerfully taught that homophobia has no place in sports or life. How effective was his presentation? Ask the many students who chatted with him or the football players who joined Hudson afterward for lunch. His message hit home and was deeply appreciated.

Timmian Massie, Marist College


We highly recommend Hudson Taylor for your campus! He is motivational, inspirational, compassionate and has a story every campus and athletic department would benefit from hearing. It is not always easy to talk about homophobia in sports and how to create an atmosphere where learning to be a supportive ally is accepted. Hudson set the stage to open minds and hearts on our campus and truly made a difference with our students.

Allison Subasic, Penn State University


The students at University of Pennsylvania were blown away and inspired by Hudson Taylor’s presentation on being an Athlete Ally. He spoke to the audience about his personal difficulties with confronting homophobia, and his candid story was both inspiring and honest. After Hudson’s speech, the audience left believing that we all have the ability to change ourselves and we also have the ability and the duty to make a difference in the lives of others.

Anna Aagenes, University of Pennsylvania




Allyship: Becoming a Champion for Inclusion on Your Campus

One of the greatest tools in the ongoing battle for inclusion and respect for LGBT members of our campus community is the courage and willingness of their straight allies to stand up and play a role in combating ignorance and prejudice.  Most straight people have gay friends, but too few of us stand up and say that fair treatment of every member of our community is personally important to us.

Hudson shares his journey of becoming a straight ally for the LGBT community and helps others learn how they can be an integral part of the solution. This program is about friendship, and standing up for our friends.  It’s about making our campuses a safe space for everyone and celebrating the things we have in common, as people, as students and as citizens caring about fair treatment for everyone.

(This program is suitable for general student audiences. A version of this program can be made specifically applicable for student-athlete audiences upon request. Hudson is happy to do the main keynote for general students and a separate program for members of your campus’ athletic community on the same visit at no additional cost.)

LEARNING OUTCOMES
•  Inspiration to overcome insecurities and fears, and to stand up for the rights of a minority.
•  How to manage obstacles in the face of fairness and integrity.
•  Understand how small changes in words and behavior can impact others.
•  Greater appreciation of how mobilizing and organizing their campus community can make a lasting impact.

Building a Movement: The Journey of Athlete Ally

Sometimes you are the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with the right issue.  That’s the way it might seem with Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally.  Only a few years ago, he was making a public statement about gay rights by wearing a sticker on the side of his college wrestling headgear.  Today, he’s appearing on CNN, MSNBC, and in other national media outlets promoting acceptance of gay and lesbian players in professional and college athletics.  Tens of thousands of individuals are signing online pledges to be allies to their LGBT teammates, and Hudson is collaborating with many of the most influential people in the nation to catalyze critical social change.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how a person goes from a passionate stance on an issue to large-scale mobilization, consider this hour with Hudson as he discusses the journey of Athlete Ally.  In this hour, he will focus on the strategies, the connections, the mentors, the lucky breaks, and the outreach that brought him and the organization to the epicenter of a thriving national dialogue.  He will also discuss how his organization modeled on other successful social justice movements, models of community organizing, and other principles and strategies that helped move Athlete Ally’s message forward.

This program is perfect for student activism groups, business schools, media studies programs, and any other group interested in a behind the scenes look at the remarkable growth of an organization from idea to influence.


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