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Best LGBT sports stories of 2011

Pro rugby player Ben Cohen launched Stand Up Foundation and also has no problem looking hunky for a gay audience

We begin this year’s bests once again with the top 5 sports stories of 2011. Tune in every days for the first days of 2012 to wish 2011 farewell.

5 – Women’s World Cup
The US team came just short of winning it all this year, ultimately losing the heart-stopping finale to Japan on penalty kicks. The entire tournament garnered some much needed attention for women’s soccer as well as for gay women athletes — one of the team’s best players, Abby Wambach is all-but-openly gay, and standout goalie Hope Solo hasn’t done much to dispel rumors that she is as well.

4 – Pro soccer player comes out
American soccer player David Testo publicly came out in November, after already being out to teammates, who were by all accounts supportive. Although Testo is not currently signed, he is intending to play again and is definitely not retired, and does not seem to think that his revelation will impact his chances of getting a roster spot — a great sign of how far sports as a whole have come.

3 – Gay softball lawsuit
The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association finally settled the suit brought against it by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of three players whose team was disqualified from the 2008 softball world series because, in essence, they were deemed not queer enough. The results of the settlement are such that the association is now more accepting of all queer athletes — not just specifically gay athletes.

2 – Ben Cohen launches StandUp foundation
Pro rugby player Ben Cohen publicly lead the fight against homophobia in sports by starting this foundation, the first in the world devoted to raising awareness of the long-term effects of bullying and to funding people and organizations working to stop bullying as it happens. The foundation has a special focus on the lgbt community, and ending homophobia in sports is at the heart of its mission. Talk about a role model! Although Cohen is based in Europe, he definitely made his mission known here in Portland by making two official visits, in which he spent time at Nike’s campus and delivered speeches at Niketown.

1 – Brad Usselman’s blog
Vancouver resident Brad Usselman is an elite athlete, a high schooler, and a gay individual. At the beginning of this year, he and two friends who are also gay athletes in high school started a blog devoted to discussing their experiences and to supporting other kids who identify similarly. Since its launch, the blog has grown admirably, and occasionally features guest posts from other teen athletes telling their coming out stories. This blog is a great resource for kids who can too often find themselves feeling alone and a huge step on the road towards LGBT acceptance in sports.

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