Tag Archives: Gareth Thomas

Good News Friday: A gay rugby player proposes in a very cool way. A 9-year-old girl does Alicia Keys awesome on “America’s Got Talent.” And a police officer give a blind woman a magical moment

First of all, thanks to my friend Jeff Pearlman and his large social media following, Wednesday’s post was by far the most-read ever in my eight years writing this little site. So to any of my new readers, welcome aboard! And please stay, at least for a few days. Although not all of my posts will be about beloved pieces of my childhood fading away, like Sports Illustrated.) I post here three times per week, and Fridays are always dedicated to good news stories.

We start Good News Friday today with a pretty wonderful moment from the world of rugby. I remember a few years ago how courageous it was when the first out gay professional athlete turned out to be a rugby star named Gareth Thomas in 2010, and of course since then we’ve had Michael Sam, Jason Collins, etc.

Anyway, at the recent London Gay Pride parade, a rugby player named Fernando Ferreira of Kings Cross Steelers RFC decided he wanted to propose to his boyfriend. And, well, he got his whole team to help him. Very, very cool.

**Next up today, I don’t watch “America’s Got Talent” but once in a while a performance is so great that I see it all over people’s social media feeds and I check it out.

That was the case with 9=year-old Angelica Hale, who just blew the judges (and everyone in the audience) away with this incredible rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.”

How a huge voice like this can come out of such a tiny body is beyond me. But man, does this kid have pipes!

**Finally today, a very small moment that made me smile. Officer Kristian Johnson of Utah’s Logan City Police Department was called to help Shirley Hardman with a microwave that wouldn’t stop beeping after she warmed a muffin. (I can relate, Shirley, a beeping microwave that won’t stop is enough to send me into a silent rage.)  Hardman recently experienced a kitchen fire, and because she is blind, she was nervous about a fire occurring again. She called the operator for help, who connected her with the police. A short time later, Officer Johnson was on his way.

After clearing the microwave’s error code, Johnson asked Hardman if there was anything left he could do for her.

She asked him to sing. He tried to beg off at first, but then did a perfectly-passable “You are My Sunshine.”

“See, you CAN sing!” Shirley exclaimed.

In an interview with Fox13, Johnson said the experience wasn’t just meaningful to Hardman. “It was obvious it meant something to her, and for me it made my day: it made my week,” he said.

Just one nice person helping another nice person. One of the simply joys of life.

Officer Johnson’s no Angelica Hale, but hey, he did his best.

 

 

Two stories of courageous athletes coming out. A perfect game. And Betty White kills on “SNL”

I think we forget, sometimes, when we see small victories in America in the area of gay rights, that there’s still an incredible amount of intolerance and hate-mongering out there.

There are still a huge number of places in America where you will be judged harshly if you admit, as a boy, that you like other boys.

But the walls are breaking down. Every generation that comes along is more and more comfortable with homosexuals, because their friend, or their uncle, or their teacher, is gay.

Organized team sports, though, doesn’t seem to be making much progress. An NFL locker room, or a baseball clubhouse, is about the most testosterone-filled, anti-gay place you could possibly imagine. From my limited time around pro and college athletes, believe me when I tell you that accepting a gay teammate would be very, very hard for them. (Just the constant use of the word “faggot” in the locker room would shock someone who wasn’t used to being in there).

But still, there are brave and courageous men and women who are pointing the way for others to follow. And in beautiful news, they’re finding coming out of the closet to be not such a big deal among their teammates.

I read two stories this weekend about athletes coming out, and while Gareth Thomas (pictured above) and Andrew McIntosh don’t seem to have anything in common, each struggled mightily with their decision to be themselves.

I urge  you to read SI writer Gary Smith’s beautiful story about Welsh rugby star Thomas, and Katie Thomas’s N.Y. Times story about McIntosh, a star of the SUNY-Oneonta (N.Y.) lacrosse team.

Both of these men agonized for years, and denied who they were to themselves. When they finally shut the demons out of their heads and embraced who they were, and told their teammates about it, the receptions were welcoming.

I think it’s crazy that we don’t have one single “out” gay man playing a major professional team sport in America. I hope that someday soon, one will have the courage to admit who he really is.

And that the reaction from American sports fans will be a collective shrug.

**Outstanding achievement by the Oakland A’s Dallas Braden Sunday. On Mother’s Day, the kid pitched only the 19th perfect game in major league baseball history.

That blows my mind, that there’ve been only 19 in the 100-plus year history of the big leagues. What an amazing accomplishment for a kid who’s basically been a journeyman so far in his career.

Very sweet, too, to see him hugging his Grandma after the game.

*So did you see 88-year-old Betty White kill it on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend? I only saw a few sketches, but man, she was fantastic. Great to see Rose Nylund get some love this late in her life.

Check out the opening monologue here; I love that she says she’s “88 and a half.” I thought you stopped counting the half when you were 12..

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