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Sunday, November 10, 2013

No Holds Barred: Hudson Taylor of Athlete Ally 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally.

Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sports by educating allies in the athletic community and empowering them to take a stand.

A three-time All-American wrestler at the University of Maryland, Hudson Taylor is now a volunteer assistant coach for the Columbia University wrestling team.

On Wednesday, November 13, he will be one of the recipients of an Emery Award, presented by the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a professional provider of social support and programming for at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

We spoke with Hudson Taylor by phone Wednesday.

"I founded Athlete Ally about three years ago, shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland," he said. While still wrestling at Maryland in his senior year, "I decided to start speaking out about homophobia in sports and my opinions about it. So I actually started the season wearing a Human Rights Campaign sticker on my headgear. One, because I thought it looked cool," he said with a laugh. "Two, because I thought it would really start a conversation that I didn't see occurring in the sports world."

And wrestling, he believes, is a great venue in which to speak up for all forms of equality.

"I think that wrestling is a unique sport in its diversity. It's one of the only sports where you can really be any size, any body type, and really be successful at an elite level," he said. "It's pure in a lot of ways, because you don't need to rely on anyone but yourself and what you bring to the mat."

He also is outspoken on the various forms of abuse which have been aimed at transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox. "It's a real shame what Fallon Fox has had to put up with," he said.

We also discussed how Athlete Ally aids the battle against homophobia and transphobia in sports, what non-LGBT people can do to aid this fight, the support Athlete Ally has gotten from organizations including the NCAA and USA Wrestling, the situation facing closeted athletes, the fight against anti-LGBT laws in countries like Russia, the outlook for Columbia wrestling this season, and much more.

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