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Former Columbia wrestling coach encourages LGBT inclusion in sports

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Hudson Taylor talks to students about his message on LGBT equality and inclusion in sports.

Hudson Taylor talks to students about his message on LGBT equality and inclusion in sports.

Ashley Sodosky

Ashley Sodosky

Hudson Taylor talks to students about his message on LGBT equality and inclusion in sports.

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Marshall university students gathered Monday night in the Memorial Student Center to listen to a message on LGBT equality and inclusion in sports.

 

Hudson Taylor, a three-time All-American wrestler and previous Division I collegiate wrestling coach, visited the Huntington campus last night to spread his message to students.

 

Taylor is the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization to end homophobia and transphobia in sports and educate athletic communities to stand up against anti-LGBT discrimination.

 

Taylor’s visit to Marshall was his first, said Aaron Goebbel, assistant athletic director of external affairs.

 

“Mr. Taylor has competed at the highest level of collegiate athletics in his respective sport and to have someone with his knowledge of the athletics environment come to Marshall as an ambassador to educate our athletes about LGBT inclusion is tremendous,” said Goebbel.

 

Taylor was a three time NCAA All-American and two-time NCAA Academic All-American wrestler who holds the most pins and most wins in the history of his alma mater, the University of Maryland. He is ranked in the top five pinners in NCAA wrestling history and holds multiple hall of fame records.

 

Taylor studied theater at Maryland and said after experiencing his classmates come out he realized he wanted more from his sport than repetitive homophobic language on and off the mat.

 

“I was in between two very different worlds, where I had LGBT friends and I had teammates using ‘that’s so gay’ kind of language daily and I decided we can and should be better than that,” said Goebbel.

 

After wearing an equality sticker on his headgear during matches, Taylor was recognized by the media. As a result of his support Taylor received thousands of emails from closeted athletes thanking him for his stance.

 

Athlete Ally was formed in dedication to educating and empowering the straight ally’s in sports to speak out against homophobia and transphobia.

After juggling coaching at Columbia and representing and spreading the Athlete Ally message, Taylor has placed full focus on his organization. Taylor visits over 40 schools including colleges and high schools around the country in a year educating students on LGBT inclusion in sports.

 

The Athlete Ally program includes ambassadors from over 80 colleges and over 100 professional athletes who have pledged to be inclusive. The athlete ally pledge is an affirmative pledge that is inclusive of all athletes.

 

The LGBT office, Intercultural Affairs, Housing and Residence Life and the Athletic department sponsored Taylor’s visit.

 

Chris Bryant, residence director in Marshall’s Housing and Residence Life, said the collaboration of groups had the opportunity to reach larger group of people.

 

“It’s exciting to see the collaboration,” said Bryant. “This is one of those events that has the potential to impact a lot of different people in a very positive way.”

 

Taylor’s audience was full and hosted a strong majority of student athletes.

 

“Educating our student athletes about various social topics, especially one as prevalent as the perception of the LGBT community in sport, is all part of the student-athlete process as we prepare our young men and women to be at their best when their playing careers are complete,” said Goebbel.

 

Taylor said he knew if a wrestler could get the attention that he did when supporting his cause he was anxious to see what could be done with others involved.

 

“Imagine if I could get a basketball player, a football player, or a whole team or a whole league to speak out,” said Taylor. “I’ve spent the last five years trying to do just that.”

 

Ashley Sodosky can be contacted at [email protected]

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