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Thursday, January 08, 2015

No Holds Barred: Akil Patterson on Diversity and Inclusion in the Wrestling Family 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with LGBT sports advocate, former Terrapin Wrestling Club director, and a member of USA Wrestling's diversity committee, Akil Patterson.

We spoke with him by phone Wednesday.

Although he had been a top college football player, he was also a wrestler and a wrestling coach. "I'm a wrestler at heart," he said. Akil identifies himself as a Black, gay, Christian male.

We thus focused on the issues of overcoming homophobia and transphobia, and fighting for diversity and inclusion, in wrestling and other sports.

"I try to help bring along some new initiatives to frame some new and outstanding information that's going to be going out to the wrestling communities," he said. "And also just to kind of bridge the gap between what is considered D and I, what really is diversity and inclusion in America, and how we can not only take the LGBT part, but also a minority perspective, and really make sure that everyone understands and is culturally aware and competent about what wrestling really means."

He explained, "The crux of it is, is you're out there to compete. You're out there to have fun. And at the end of the day, we're one big family. We really are."

We discussed why acceptance and equality for LGBT athletes will come, but "a little slower than we like it." We also discussed his own experiences in sports when he came out as gay, the treatment of LGBT athletes in many sports today, the support he has been given in his efforts, his work with Athlete Ally, and much more.

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