SB Nation’s Outsports is gearing up for its third annual gathering with the announcement of the first wave of confirmed speakers for the Outsports Pride Summit, set to take place during New York City Pride from June 21- 24. San Francisco 49ers coach Katie Sowers and former NFL player Ryan O’Callaghan will speak at the event, joining names such as Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan, High School track coach Jarrin Williams, ATP Tennis radio host and reporter Nick McCarvel, Univ. of Nebraska athlete Jace Anderson, journalist Dawn Ennis, with additional speakers to be announced in coming weeks.
Cynopsis Sports asked Cyd Zeigler, co-founder SB Nation’s Outsports, about the lessons learned this past few years and what the event hopes to accomplish this time around.
Zeigler on growing Outsports: Outsports is all about people inspiring one another with their courage. The community that has organically grown around Outsports is remarkable, and the success of this event is seen in the lives of the people after they leave it. Some of them find the courage to come out to their team, family or friends. Others build lifelong friendships. The bonds that are built, and the support that gets shared, at Outsports Pride is the power of the event.
On goals: The top goals for every year are to educate people on how they can support LGBTQ people in sports, and to inspire attendees to be their true selves in their own lives, no matter who they are. We take our tagline – Courage Is Contagious – seriously. It’s the motto we live by. In addition to that, we have more attendees and speakers from professional sports this year. Pro sports touch all of our lives in huge ways. It’s been great to see all of the big pro sports leagues embrace LGBTQ inclusion in some way in recent years. Continuing to build that message, and help educate people in pro sports, is so critical in advancing the inclusive profile of sports.
On this year’s importance: Of course I’m going to tell you this is the most important year. Ha. But it is. We’ve been doing this for a few years now, and we knew that bringing the event to New York City was going to elevate the profile of the event. We’re ready for it. New York makes a ton of things possible, like participation from the professional sports leagues that simply aren’t possible in most other cities. We also tie our event into an existing Pride celebration every year. New York Pride is the biggest, most diverse, most robust Pride celebration in the country. We are incredibly excited to be contributing to that celebration.
On highlights: If I can just fanboy out here for a minute, I can’t wait to meet 49ers coach Katie Sowers. She’s the first full-time female coach, and the first out LGBTQ coach, in the NFL. I am really looking forward to meeting her and hearing about her incredible journey. Plus, after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, I’m now a 49ers fan, so I’m even more invested in what she has to say. In addition to Katie, I’m most interested in talking to people who have divergent experiences from me, whether they are a woman, a person of color, transgender. We are going to have attendees and speakers that represent every corner of the LGBTQ sports community, but it’s those people with very different backgrounds from mine I’m most interested in learning from.
On the community: Many people in the LGBTQ community are afraid right now. I see it every day in messages from community leaders and people across social media. One of the things I hear is that people appreciate the positivity Outsports creates in the community. Sports have become far more inclusive of LGBTQ people than most anyone realizes. Even I’m surprised by it sometimes. The days of assuming your teammates or coach will hate you for being gay are over. Outsports Pride creates a space where people are able to hear that message and see the change around them, see the change in the lives of the people they hear from at the event. There is so much for LGBTQ people in sports to be excited about and to learn about, and I hear over and over that Outsports is bringing that message to them like no one else.