Athlete Ally, the nation’s largest non-profit organization in LGBT sports, is honoring Yogi Berra, James Blake, Jason Collins, Martina Navratilova, KPMG, and the WNBA at the inaugural Athlete Ally Action Awards on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at New York’s Cafe Rouge.
The event celebrates the pioneering actions by individuals and organizations in 2014 that helped create LGBT inclusive athletic environments and eliminate anti-LGBT prejudice. This first-of-its-kind event is an unprecedented LGBT-straight alliance embodying the Athlete Ally motto: Victory Through Unity.
“I want to thank Athlete Ally for this honor,” said honoree Yogi Berra. “Baseball has always been an important part of my life. It teaches you how to challenge yourself and work as a team. No matter who you are, you should have that chance.”
The Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center and Athlete Ally have partnered on a series of leadership workshops as well as “Allyship,” an exhibit commemorating the athletes throughout history who have helped break barriers and change attitudes in society. The exhibit will be on display at the Action Awards.
“I’m glad what Athlete Ally is doing, and proud our Museum & Learning Center teaches kids the same idea: respect the game, respect the other guy,” said Berra. “Back when I played and today, there’s no place for discrimination in sports.”
“Trailblazers like Jason Collins and Martina Navratilova have been major influencers in sports,” said Christine Quinn, the former New York City Council Speaker and a member of Athlete Ally’s Board of Directors. “We know the positive and transformative impact sports can have on our society. The courage and leadership of our LGBT athletes and their allies can effect important and necessary change in the world.”
The event will be hosted by MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts and former NHL star and member of Athlete Ally’s Board of Directors Sean Avery.
“Since I first spoke out for marriage equality here in New York in 2011, there has been great progress in our society, but there is still so much work to do in sports,” said Avery. “For every Jason Collins and Martina Navratilova, there are countless other LGBT athletes still living in the closet who need groups like Athlete Ally working with these communities to make them more inclusive.”
The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by the awards at 7:00 p.m.. Tickets for the event are still available, and can be purchased online.
Special guests expected to attend include New York Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy, Bravo TV executive Andy Cohen, Olympians Cameron Myler and Blake Skjellerup, model Hilary Rhoda, and tennis champion Rennae Stubbs.
Sponsors of the event include Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, HBO, JetBlue, MillerCoors, and Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Athlete Ally is dedicated to eliminating homophobia and transphobia in athletic communities through educational programs of inclusion, respect, and allyship. The Action Awards are the latest achievement for Athlete Ally this year, following the Principle 6 campaign to protect LGBT athletes from discrimination at the Olympic Games and the creation of a strategic alliance with Major League Baseball to make the league more inclusive for the LGBT community.