Former Wrestler Hudson Taylor Champions Tolerance
As a member of the nation's top-ranked high school wrestling team, Hudson Taylor was subjected to homophobic taunts as a teen. When he would miss practice to participate in theater at Blair Academy in New Jersey, he would get asked if he was training for the "gay Olympics." ("The f-word was thrown around very nonchalantly," he adds.) Then, as a theater major and All-American wrestler at the University of Maryland, Taylor took a stand. He wore the Human Rights Campaign logo (an equals sign) on his headgear and began preaching tolerance in the locker room. But respect for Taylor goes both ways. At the request of his Terrapin teammates, who thought the logo crossed a line into politics, he removed it, choosing instead to inject LGBT support into every subsequent interview he gave. Paul Steinbach spoke to Taylor — who is 25, straight, recently married and a volunteer wrestling coach at Columbia University — the day he announced the NCAA's decision to partner with Athlete Ally, the nonprofit organization he founded last year to encourage straight athletes to speak out against homophobia.
Q: How did this become your cause?
Q: What specifically did you do?
Q: What's behind the homophobic language?
Q: Were you surprised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published last year that found that gay and lesbian students are only a few percentage points behind their heterosexual peers in terms of their likelihood of participating in organized sports?
Q: Will it take a high-profile athlete in one of the major professional team sports coming out during his active career to change the culture once and for all?
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Ithaca College Athletics and Events Center