On Friday, Aug. 2, ESPN senior writer LZ Granderson and ESPN.com baseball editor/writer Christina Kahrl were inducted into the first class of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Chicago. Tennis superstars Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, Olympic champion Greg Louganis and NBA center Jason Collins were also among the 18 inductees. The Hall was created to honor individuals and organizations whose achievements have enhanced sports and athletics for the LGBT community.
Granderson and Kahrl spent a few minutes with Front Row earlier this week to explain what the honor meant to them and how aspiring LGBT journalists can follow in their footsteps.
What does it mean to you to be inducted into the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame?
LZG: It’s always nice to be recognized for your work though I feel out of place being inducted with the likes of [former NFL player] Dave Kopay, Billie Jean King and Martina. They were engaged in this fight before I even knew there was a fight. But with that being said, the question I constantly ask myself is “If I were to die today, did I do anything yesterday that will help someone tomorrow?” So I view the induction as a way some of my peers are telling me “yes you did” and that’s comforting to hear.
CK: It’s an honor, to be sure, but it is also a responsibility. If you’re LGBT – and especially if you’re [transgender] — there are so few of us who are visible in mainstream entertainment industries like sports. My hope is that if my career means anything to anyone, it’s that employers understand that [transgender] people can do the job just as well as anybody else.
What advice would you give to young LGBTs aspiring to embark on a career in sports journalism?
LZG: I don’t know anyone who goes into journalism to become rich and famous. We do it because we’re intellectually curious, because our talents are in this area, and because we believe in and are passionate about the power of the press. If you fit in any of those categories — and you put in the work– then know there’s a home for you in journalism. It’s important to remember that because making a living in this field is not easy. I’m where I’m at because I believed in myself and I’ve had others believe in me and fight for me on my behalf. And I have found this to be the reality for a lot of my colleagues regardless of beat, city, medium, color gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
CK: If you love sports, you can do it, because sports is a meritocracy, off the field as well as on. My gaining entry into the BBWAA [Baseball Writers Association of America] after I’d transitioned to life as a woman, and then later getting an opportunity to work at ESPN shows how much opportunity is out there to anyone with talent. Identifying as LGBT is something a person can and should take pride in, but being professional, competent and willing to work is what’s going to serve you best.
Kristen Hudak contributed to this post