WASHINGTON, DC – In the last 24, hours, more than 1,000 Philadelphia Phillies fans have signed an online petition on Change.org asking the Phillies to make an “It Gets Better” video and take a public stand against anti-gay bullying and homophobia in sports. The petition, with more than 1,500 signatures currently, was started by Philadelphia-born Jerome Hunt, who is a lifelong Phillies fan as well as a former bullying victim.
Lifelong Phillies fan and former bullying victim starts campaign on Change.org asking Phillies to become seventh MLB team to commit to producing a video to combat anti-gay bullying.
On June 30, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson used anti-gay slurs on Sirius XM’s "All Out Show with Rude Jude and Lord Sear.” His remarks demonstrate how pervasive the culture of homophobia in sports has become. Jackson has since apologized, but petition-starter Hunt knows only too well the lasting effects those slurs can have.
“I was called ‘gay’ and ‘f***ot’ in both grade school and high school, when I didn’t even really know I was gay at the time,” said Jerome Hunt, who now resides in Washington, D.C., but is a Phillies partial season ticket holder.“Words, even in a joking matter, carry a lot of weight. When these words come from a person you idolize, like a professional athlete, they can crush one’s spirit and can lead one to believe that no matter what stage you are in life, you are not free to be who you are.”
Hunt believes that the Phillies, as another prominent area sports team, can provide hope for LGBT teens who experience bullying following Jackson’s comments. He is asking them to do so as this week’s All-Star Game celebrates the best baseball has to offer, including National League starting pitcher Roy Halladay of the Phillies.
“A Phillies ‘It Gets Better’ video could be a beacon of hope for an LGBT youth who is struggling with bullying and harassment, “ said Hunt. “Hearing the words that it is okay to be who you are and ‘It Gets Better’ from a sports star you look up to can and does make a difference.”
So far, the Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox have all made “It Gets Better” videos after being petitioned by their fans to do so on Change.org, and the Twins,Mariners, and Nationals have agreed to make videos as well. The momentum behind these videos is especially notable, as there are currently no openly gay athletes playing in any of the four major pro sports.
"The Giants, Cubs and Red Sox have all spoken out against anti-gay bullying, as a result of petitions started by fans on Change.org. Now the Phillies have an opportunity to stand up as well by responding to Jerome Hunt and the 1,500 Phillies fans who have joined him," said Eden James, Director of Organizing at Change.org. "If every pro sports team produced an It Gets Better video, it would have a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of kids and their families. It would also contribute to a safer playing environment for gay athletes, from high school to professional sports.”
More than 20,000 “It Gets Better” videos have been produced since syndicated columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller launched the project in September 2010 in response to an epidemic of teen suicides by gay kids and kids perceived to be gay. Through “It Gets Better” videos, President Barack Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and corporations like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Pixar and other major organizations and leaders have provided hope to kids struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity.
View Jerome Hunt’s petition here:
ESPN story on Sam Maden, who inspired the Red Sox to make an “It Gets Better” video:
SF Chronicle story on Sean Chapin, whose Change.org petition sparked the “It Gets Better” movement in pro sports:
More information on the It Gets Better Project:
Watch the Boston Red Sox’ “It Gets Better” video:
Watch the San Francisco Giants’ “It Gets Better” video:
Watch the Chicago Cubs’ “It Gets Better” video: