‘It’s a New World': The Super Bowl Becomes a Platform for LGBT Equality

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"Times New Roman";color:#222222″>In August, the 49ers became the first NFL franchise to film an “It Gets Better” video to combat anti-LGBT bullying in schools. The team was compelled to produce the public service announcement when a diehard Bay Area fan named Sean Chapin initiated a Change.org petition asking the 49ers to break the NFL’s conspicuous silence. He received 16,000 online signatures and the team responded. Several players were featured with the most stirring comments coming from hard-hitting safety Donte Whitner who said, “The San Francisco 49ers are proud to joinItGetsBetter.org, to let all LGBT teens know that it gets better. On behalf of the entire 49ers organization, we are on your side, and we promise it gets better.”

a Maryland state delegate requesting that team chief executive Steve Biscotti “take the necessary action, as a National Football League owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees.” But the Ravens took no such action and Ayanbadejo hasn’t stopped expressing himself, and won’t stop this coming week.

am. He wrote to the founder of New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, Brian Ellner, and the political director for media mogul Russell Simmons, Michael Skolnik. Ayanbadejo’s message was that the Super Bowl, the shiniest, most watched event in all of North American sports, could be a remarkable podium to make the case against homophobia. He wrote, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”

spoke to Frank Bruni of The New York Times about why he reached out in the wee hours of the morning. “It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone,” he said. “And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there?”

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"Times New Roman";color:#222222″>Ayanbadejo also told Bruni that he’s been in contact with Hudson Taylor, who founded the organization Athlete Ally to challenge anti-gay bigotry on all levels in professional sports. “He’s so excited and ready to take a stand in whatever way he can,” said Taylor. “He is leveraging the biggest sports stage in the world.”

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