Spotlight: Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo

Brendon Ayanbadejo by Keith Allison

“If they wanted to be real men and have conversations, I would have, but no one did.”

Like many Americans, Brendon Ayanbadejo is an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage. What makes him unusual is that he is also a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. And in the hyper-masculine world of professional football, an open advocate of equality for LGBT Americans is still a risky thing to be. For this reason, we are conferring on Brendon an honorary MARC membership (yes, we can do that!)

Ayanbadejo, who grew up in a housing project in Chicago, became one of the first athletes on a major American professional sports team to speak out in support of same-sex marriage in 2009. As a result, he was the target of crude locker room harassment from many of his teammates. “If I was walking by, and they wanted to be immature and make comments, I’d keep walking,” Ayanbadejo recently told The New York Times. “If they wanted to be real men and have conversations, I would have, but no one did.”

As Domonique Foxworth, who is president of the N.F.L. Players Association and was Ayanbadejo’s teammate on the Ravens, told the Times: “In an environment like an N.F.L. locker room, I think it’s extremely commendable to have the courage to stand up for something like this.” At MARC, we couldn’t agree more: good men and women stand up for what’s right, even (and especially) when they have something to lose.

With that in mind: Go Ravens!
Posted by Mike Otterman on Feb 1, 2013 11:06 AM America/New_York

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Mike, this is a great story. Also, if you and other MARC readers haven't heard about it, the National Hockey League is starting to get behind public service announcements promoting equality within the NHL regardless of any one's sexual orientation. Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and whose dad is the general manager of he Toronto Maple Leafs, created "You Can Play." So far more than 30 NHL players have taped spots which re-enforces the message that "equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation" becomes the norm. I had the privilege to hear Patrick Burke speak recently and his message was direct, no apologies, powerful, and well received. Check it out..
  • Posted Tue 05 Feb 2013 04:58 PM EST
Thanks, Frank. Didn't know about "You Can Play." We'll see if we can post the link on the MARC site.
  • Posted Tue 05 Feb 2013 09:16 PM EST
I didn't know about "You Can Play" either - so inspiring - It looks like the movement has now spread to college and professional athletes who play football, basketball and other sports too:

Also, I just saw this in the Huffington Post, Brendon Ayanbadejo sat down with Russell Simmons to discuss his stance on marriage equality. "Being the first pioneer publicly accepting same-sex marriage in the three major sports was difficult at first but the more people scrutinized me and ridiculed me, the stronger I became for the issue," he said. "It was like lifting weights; the resistance made me stronger, stand taller and speak louder for LGBT rights!"
  • Posted Wed 06 Feb 2013 11:29 AM EST
The NHL recently made its support of LGBT rights official:
Hopefully more professional leagues will follow!
  • Posted Tue 23 Apr 2013 10:40 AM EDT



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