The second annual Ally Week began this year with a presentation on athlete allyship by Hudson Taylor, a wrestling coach at Columbia University. Though raised in a staunchly religious household, Taylor’s experiences in college shifted his perspectives on the LGBT community. The wrestler soon questioned the homophobic slurs and attitude of his fellow athletes in the locker room, after witnessing a fellow classmate come out. Eventually, Taylor’s advocacy culminated to the athlete wearing a Human Rights Campaign sticker on his wrestling headgear. Though this initially caused strife with his peers, the HRC sticker soon prompted discussion about the topic of allyship. Taylor founded the non-profit-organization, Athlete Ally, to further his work against locker room homophobia.
In his presentation, Taylor focused on the atmosphere of athletics and masculinity. The homophobia of this atmosphere originates from the perception of homosexuality as an antithesis of masculinity. Taylor encouraged a more passive approach in his advocacy of the community, believing that asking on the intentions of homophobic slurs rather than demanding one to stop. In his description on how this atmosphere can change, Taylor used the causality of the chicken and the egg. Either a more allied athlete community or a single LGBT athlete publicly coming out can change this attitude, but which will occur first is unknown.
Taylor ended his presentation by answering the question of the assumption that he himself is gay. When asked if this assumption bothered him, Taylor replied no, as he does view homosexuality as wrong. The apathy at such of view of himself defines allyship, as he places himself within the discrimination of the LGBT community.
Tuesday night brought about a veteran of last year’s Ally Week with Kristo Gobin. Gobin performed a different performance titled You’re So Gay, which diverged from his previous presentation of That’s So Gay. You’re So Gay described Gobin’s experience with a LGBT pride parades in Split and Zagreb, Croatia in the previous June. The performance received an impressive turn out of students, more so than either last year’s performance or Monday night’s event.
Gobin described the Split pride parade as one of the most challenging and traumatic experiences of his life. Two hundred marchers arrived in Split for the event, accompanied by seven hundred riot armored police officers. Croatians protesting against the parade numbered ten thousand, an overwhelming disadvantage to the parade. During the parade, Gobin described a point in which the marchers were required to move out of the city to an open space, met by the crowd of protestors. He called the moment of walking past the walls as the “most difficult and mandatory moment” of his life.
Once into the open section of the parade, the marchers were subject to thrown objects as well as a constant chant of “Kill, Kill, Kill the Faggots!” in Croatian. The memory of this event brought Gobin to tears, as he described the utmost feeling of sadness. This emotion quickly changed to anger as the crowd hit him with a tomato and a glass bottle, while he spent timeon a stage in front of the angry crowd. After the march, Gobin expressed the trauma of the experience, by his body shaking, and a simple loss of memory for a few days as he traveled and stayed in Zagreb.
The pride parade at Zagreb greatly differed from that of Split. Normally, two to five hundred people march, but an astounding four thousand people came to the Croatian capital to take a stand at the discrimination of Split. Gobin ended his performance by dedicating the performance to the young children of his friends and family, so they may not share the experiences that he has suffered.