GO! Athletes relaunches with GOATHLETES.ORG

The Board of Directors for GO! (Generation Out) Athletes is thrilled to announce that the organization has a new website, GOATHLETES.ORG. (We will no longer be using www.ourgroupathletes.com.) Please help us spread the word about GO! Athletes by using the hash-tag #goathletes with a link to the website: GOATHLETES.ORG and send us feedback on the new site!

Also, SAVE THE DATE: GO! Athletes will have a relaunch event, featuring out soccer-star JOANNA LOHMAN, who currently plays for DC United the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite. The event will be held at University of Pennsylvania, Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 7-9 pm in Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall.

Join our movement as we EMPOWER and EDUCATE on behalf of LGBTQA athletes across the nation!

Announcing the GO! Athletes ALL-STAR Advisory Board….

“Announcing the GO! Athletes ALL-STAR Advisory Board. These individuals make up our unique advisory team of incredible role-models and “coaches” who have supported GO! Athletes as we have evolved over the years. Some are excited new members to join GO!, while other members have been involved in GO! since 2008 when the group first formed under the name of “Our Group.”

We would like to take a moment to thank these incredible athletes, role models, and mentors as they have guided our young organization as we continue to represent the new GENERATION of OUT (GO!) Athletes.”

Who is on our list? Check out the ALL-STAR bios here: http://ourgroupathletes.com/all-star-advisory-board/

Happy #WinningWednesday!

Our Group is now GO! Athletes

The Board of Directors for Our Group is thrilled to announce that the organization has officially been renamed GO! (Generation Out) Athletes.  We’re also excited to share the GO! Athletes logo.

Changing our name to Generation Out (GO!) Athletes is a direct response a tremendous opportunity we have to increase visibility and support for the LGBTQA sports movement.  Now more than ever athletes, coaches, staff, and fans are ready to be OUT, or to stand up and be allies. We know that athletics are at their best when trained for and contested in an inclusive, safe space where we educate allies and empower young people to respect one another. Now truly is the time for the next generation(s) of out athletes and allies.

We encourage you to share our new logo on your personal websites and social media outlets.  Stay tuned next Monday for the launch of our new website.

The Board of Directors would like to recognize the efforts of Steve Oatmeyer (www.steveoatmeyer.com) – an exceptional art director and graphic designer who created the GO! Athletes logo.  We also extend sincere gratitude to the web development team at Yerger Tech (www.yergertech.com), which donated the time, resources, and expertise needed to build the new GO! Athletes website.

Our Top 5 Olympic Moments from the 2012 London Olympics…in Pictures

While there were many winning moments from this year’s Olympics, here are some of our favorite “Winning Wednesday” worthy moments from the 2012 Games in London.

1. U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Wins Gold (An obvious for ‘Winning’ moment for out soccer player Megan Rapione)

Photo Credit – http://www.People.com

2. Australian trampolinist Ji Wallace announced that he is HIV positive. Wallace won a silver medal from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Photo Credit – http://www.smh.com.au

3. The exhibits at the Pride House 2012: This “house” created a welcoming space for all athletes, staff, spectators and friends of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with the purpose of “bringing together all members and friends of the worldwide LGBT community to view live screenings of London 2012 events and discuss relevant LGBT and sports-related topics, with exhibits, photos, and videos celebrating LGBT sport.”

Photo Credit – http://pridehouse2012.org/

4.  Statistically, OUT athletes were more likely to medal than straight athletes: (10 of 23 out athletes won Olympic medals). For instance, Seimone Augustus (pictured below) shows off her Olympic hardware. In addition to Augustus, 9 other openly LGBT athletes won Olympic medals – Carl Hester, Gold for Great Britain in Equestrian; Megan Rapinoe, Gold for USA in Soccer; Marilyn Agliotti, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kim Lammers, and Maartje Paumen, Gold for the Netherlands in Field Hockey; Judith Arndt, Silver for Germany in Cycling; Edward Gal, Bronze for the Netherlands in Equestrian, and; Lisa Raymond, Bronze for USA in Tennis.

Photo credit: http://www.facebook.com

5. The Spice Girls reunite to perform at the Closing Ceremonies – ‘nuff said

Photo credit: http://www.glamour.com

Going Forward – Exciting Changes on the Horizon for Our Group


In the coming weeks, we’ll be making some exciting announcements. We will be introducing our fabulous new affiliates (including an All-Star Committee) as well as debuting a new “look and feel” for the organization.  These changes are indicative of Our Group’s ongoing growth and evolution – these changes will allow also us to more effectively execute our mission to empower and educate of behalf of LGBTQ student athletes.

Over the past several months, we’ve been busy spreading the word and building the infrastructure needed to take Our Group to the next level.  We’ve received tremendous responses and feedback from athletes, allies, leading LGBTQ service organizations, and many others.  Your guidance has been instrumental in shaping our vision, and you’ve affirmed the shared belief that Our Group is ready to provide unprecedented service for a rapidly growing generation of OUT athletes!

Thank you all for your unwavering support.  Stay tuned for our upcoming announcements!!

Keelin Godsey – Story of an Olympic Hopeful

by Keelin Godsey

On July 21, 2012, I competed at the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in the women’s hammer throw. I competed as the first out female-to-male transgender athlete pre-medical transition. However, this was my second time competing at the Olympic Trials.  At the 2008 Trials, I was closeted and placed seventh. This year, however, I was out and placed fifth.  I only missed the team by a hair.

The major difference between the Beijing and the London trials was that I was fully, publicly out and everyone knew. My competitors knew. Their coaches knew. Everyone in my field knew.   Prior to the games I was inundated with emails and messages, from all sorts of different people about my story and what they thought about it.  Dealing with the pressure was a new avenue that I learned to navigate. I trained for 10 years to make the US team. I already had enough pressure on myself to make the team.  At the same time, I felt additional pressure to succeed on behalf of the transgender community.  Even though there was no direct pressure, I did not want to disappoint all the people who said they looked up to me. I wanted to give them something to look up to.

While I threw a personal best of 70.48m at this year’s Trials (which is a meter better than my previous personal best), it was hard not to feel like I let people down who supported me. Most importantly, I felt like I let myself down. I missed out on making a team I spent my whole post-collegiate career trying to be a part of.  That was the hardest thing to get over.   We all hear about the amazing stories of those who made the team, but we don’t hear about those who don’t – the athletes who were so close. We don’t hear how hard it is to reconcile with the kind of loss and pain of trying to determine what is left in a career as an athlete at this level. I can tell you from my perspective it is incredibly hard.  Being that close to my dream has been one of the biggest struggles I have ever had to deal with.

Prior to the Olympics, I told myself that I threw really well and so I am happy with how I performed.  Yet, it wasn’t until watching the opening ceremonies that it all hit me. I thought I was stoic enough to watch the opening ceremonies but all I could think about was “I wish I was there.”  I felt disappointed that I was not competing in London, as I watched the games and remembered how close I had come to being there.  Now, the most recent issue of what’s next in my life is also complicated by my need/want to transition my gender.

Mostly, I wonder what’s next in terms of my career as an athlete. What do you do when throwing is the only thing you want to do, or that you feel you are really good at? I am lucky that I have found another job, yet what do I do with the free time after work when I would be practicing? When you have spent most of your days focused on one thing, something that you love to do, it is a huge hole that requires a lot of energy to fill. I spent the last 10 years focusing on track and school, so I didn’t have much of a social life.  I am now learning how to really get out and be active within any community that isn’t sports focused.

Competing at the Olympic Trials and being out as transgender was easy compared to this transition time in my life. I was doing what I know and what I love. I had the honor of competing at the highest level and loved every second of it. I lived for those big meets. But what’s next? Where do I go and how will it work? Another big meet could be in my future, but for this year, I will be watching the Olympics from afar.

Jeff Sheng’s Fearless Campaign

This week’s Winning Wednesday is from a founding advisory board member that has been working with Our Group from the beginning.  Jeff Sheng’s unifying Fearless Campaign has been a source of pride for all the members that have been involved and we are proud to support Fearless and Jeff in the current drive to make the full dream a reality.  Read Jeff Sheng’s message to the Our Group community below.

Dear Our Group,

As some of you may know, I am one of the founding advisors for OUR GROUP.  I became involved because of my photo project “Fearless,” a photo series that I began in 2003 about “out” LGBTQ high school and collegiate athletes, and since that time, have photographed over 150 athletes already, some of whom are on the board and active members of OUR GROUP.

What motivates me to continue working on this project, are the stories of high school and college athletes – brave young men and women who are sometimes one of the few “out” people in their entire school, let alone your sports teams.  These are the unheard acts of true heroism and courage, and it highly frustrates me that book publishers don’t see how powerful and important your lives truly are.  It’s why I have to fundraise on my own to self-publish this book, for its 10-year anniversary next year, so that I can finish “Fearless” into a large photo book next year.

As such, I am working on a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 which will allow me to self-publish this work next year into a beautiful large photo book featuring their stories, as well as to fund at least 50 more photo shoots to reach a goal of over 200 athletes.  I just launched the drive last weekend, and already have over $5000 pledged.  Nike is sponsoring this drive with some really amazing Nike “Fearless” T-shirts, the same ones they printed for their employees when I exhibited my work on their campus two years ago.  You can read more about the different pledge levels and the gifts associated with them at the links below.  Also, if any of you would like to be part of the series, please let me know.  There is no charge at all to be in it (which is why this fundraising drive is so important).  All I ask is that you do your best to help publicize this so I can reach the $50,000 goal (if the goal isn’t met, then the project isn’t funded by Kickstarter and the shirts don’t get printed etc).

The link to help is here:




Thank you again,

Jeff Sheng

Sean Coyne’s story: hurdling against the odds to fight homophobia in sports

My story began when I was five years old, although I didn’t realize that until my mom reminded me of it many years later. One night when driving home, my mom noticed I was upset and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I didn’t like feeling different from the other boys and that I didn’t understand why they all wanted to watch Batman and Transformers but I wanted to watch The Little Mermaid and My Little Ponies.  She told me there was nothing wrong with being different and that I should watch whatever show I liked, and play with whatever toys made me happy.
Even though I was told being different was fine, it didn’t feel alright. I continued to feel isolated without really understanding why. However, I started playing sports around the same time. I loved being part of sports teams. I played tee ball and soccer as my first team sports which continued for many years. However, since my mom and sister were runners I also started participating in local races as I got older. Finally when I was old enough to join the track and cross country teams at my school, I found my true calling: I was a natural runner.

In high school, I was encouraged to try hurdles and it turned out that, while I was a good distance runner, sprints and hurdles was where I was meant to compete.  While in high school, I was able to more accurately define why I had always felt different, but I wasn’t ready to accept being gay. I tried to ignore that part of my life by instead investing all my time in anything else.  To forget how I felt about being gay, I began working a part time job while competing as a three-season athlete, and being at the top of my class academically. Luckily, my efforts to focus on school and track did not go unnoticed: I was heavily recruited by many competitive track and field programs. When I visited Bucknell’s campus, however, I knew immediately it’s where I wanted to go. I applied early decision and was admitted.
Being part of the Bucknell Track and Field team was the happiest part of my life. I met a group of amazing friends and I finally stopped feeling isolated.  However, two things were simultaneously starting to occur that did not mesh well together. I had started to accept being gay for myself.  The problem was that the team culture was very homophobic.  Since nobody on the team was openly gay nobody thought twice about throwing around terms like fag, homo, or gay as a “harmless” joke with teammates.  When I finally had the courage to tell my closest friends on the team and my coach, we were all caught between a rock and a hard place. I didn’t want to tell everyone on the team about me, because frankly with over 130 men and women on our roster I didn’t know everyone very well nor did I think everyone needed to know my personal business. Therefore, my friends often felt at a loss for how to stand up against homophobia without potentially outing me.
It wasn’t until my junior year when I felt more comfortable about my identity and was open to everyone about my sexual orientation that I realized what the problem with my team was. There was no one visible to remind everyone how powerful words can be. There were guys on the team younger than me who were gay, but still at various points of the coming out process who were being affected by the negative team culture. I also knew that when I was a freshman there were guys on the team older than me who were gay, but weren’t out which made it harder for me. I then realized that just being out, while helpful, was not enough. I became a very visible voice insisting that hurtful and discriminatory language was no longer going to be acceptable on our team. I talked with the captains about setting an example because they had the most influence over the team culture.  They were very receptive to what I had to say, and started correcting guys for any hurtful language at practice, in the locker room, or wherever. It was amazing how quickly the team changed, and how supportive everyone was. Nobody was intentionally trying to be discriminatory to one another, we were all teammates trying to accomplish the same goal of winning; it was only that they lacked the visible reminder that words can be very powerful weapons when used carelessly.


I felt so elated about helping my team change, I wanted to try and reach the whole university. With the help of the director of our Office of LGBT Awareness and the administration of the Athletics Department, I adapted our school’s existing Safe Space program for Greek Life and made it more team oriented. By the time I graduated, I was able to work with four men’s teams and six women’s teams accounting for approximately one-third of all athletes on campus. What’s better, I know the younger athletes I worked with continued after I left and reached even more teams.
One seemingly little gesture of standing up and standing out has changed the culture of athletics at my Alma Mater indefinitely, and for that I could not be happier. My mother taught me it is important not to get angry with people who discriminate but that it is our duty to instruct the ignorant. My teammates are all amazingly supportive people, they just needed a reminder that you should think before you speak. And so I would encourage anyone who thinks that they aren’t able to make a difference, one small little gesture can change a great deal… it just requires courage to take that first step. Things are getting better for LGBT athletes, but we still have a long way to go, and every little bit can help.

My story of joining the tennis team: losing weight and gaining self-confidence

Growing up, I was always the very chubby kid. This led to poor body image, feelings of ostracism, and emotional eating. It wasn’t until I joined my high school tennis team that I felt that good about myself for the first time. Being on the tennis team changed my life and would later me through a very difficult situation.

I was able to shine as an athlete. I was completely surprised that, even though I was overweight, I could help my team to win division championships. By the end of the year, I even won some individual competitions for myself. I was feeling extremely confident in ways I did not think were possible before I joined the team.

(Author: Anna Schlupp)

Not only did being a part of my tennis team give me a boost of self-confidence, being a part of a team who accepted and supported me became crucial for more than winning matches. During the later portion of my high school career, I ended my relationship with my abusive girlfriend of three years.  Although my ex-girlfriend was a member of our tennis team, we kept our relationship a secret so that the other teammates did not know about our relationship.

This was a very difficult period in my life: my emotions were flowing at an accelerated rate as I was sorting out shame for having a same-sex relationship. Looking back, I now know that shame about my sexual orientation is what prevented me from telling the others about the abusive nature of this relationship. Even though my other teammates did not know the whole truth of my situation, they expressed their concern for me when I seemed upset at practice. Their support for me as a member of the team sustained me during this tough period in my life. They were able to do exactly what a winning team does best for its teammates: be a scaffold of encouragement and a source of pride.

High school is only a distant memory now. Since then I’ve lost 100 pounds through diet and exercise, worked hard to keep that weight off through college, and lately have been fortunate enough to become a volunteer for a fitness program for homeless youth.  Each week, we take the kids to a local Philadelphia park where we all work out together and talk about how to promote healthy lifestyle activities.

It is my hope that I can help spread the feelings of support my team gave me when I was in high school through my volunteer work with young people. Seeing the kids from the homeless shelter releasing their frustration and aggression through athletic activities with their peers reminds me how uplifting it feels to be a part of a team. Although my situation is not the same as what these kids are going through, I know firsthand how athletics and fitness can be crucial during the most difficult times in a young person’s life.

Being an athlete helped me to feel both physically and mentally healthy in times when I needed it the most. It allowed me to overcome feelings of low self-esteem, a bad relationship, and has made me into a more confident person who wants to share my story with others. If that isn’t winning, then I don’t know what is!

–by Anna Schlupp

Sacrifice and Sport: How I became an LGBT athlete

Win Chesson, Scott Jordan, David Spires and Sean Smith after a relay at IGLA Championships in Iceland.  (Photo Courtesy of Onesimo Demira).

I’ve spent the night watching the US Olympic Swimming trials as very close friends and some former teammates try to make their Olympic dreams come true.  It’s a moment of forced reflection.  I think of the sacrifices and experiences I made in my career and the lurking question of was it worth it.  Each athlete makes decisions of what is worth it to cut out of their lives to pursue their dream.

Sacrificing small things happens first.  The Friday night movies with friends so you can be awake for Saturday morning practice.  Then you eventually get to the point of ensuring that each piece of your life is contributing to your ultimate goal (diet, sleep, social life, stretching and icing during class, etc.)  In the case of LGBT athletes some are forced to give up an environment that is healthy and accepting through portions of their career.  You see it in the small number of out elite athletes and many will make different arguments.  Are gay and lesbian athletes just not good enough or are they not able to deal with the extra obstacles?  Several people, including myself, would argue that gay and lesbian elite athletes are there, but just not out…yet.

If gay athletes, including those at the elite level, don’t exist then how can you explain the popularity of LGBT sports organizations?  They exist all over the world in different forms.  I’ve been a critic in the past of the segmented LGBT category of sports competitions until I had the experience of competing in some.  I have had the opportunity to compete at the OutGames in 2006, the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatic (IGLA) world championships in 2009 and most recently the IGLA world championships in Reykjavík, Iceland in May.

Obviously the Iceland competition I recently took part in is not the most competitive meet I’ve been to, but why was it so fulfilling?  I asked some athletes that are in Omaha right now for US Olympic Trials and were also at IGLA in Iceland three weeks ago why they felt it was important enough to go to that meet.  Their answer was simple.  “It’s fun, it gives me a sense of community, and I love competing with my teammates!”

For me the unique ingredient to swimming at an IGLA meet is being able to feel whole and authentic.  There is no segmented athlete self that is policing each action to cover or pass as safe or straight.  All of my effort can go in to swimming and to enjoying the social aspects of the meet.  I’ll admit, the social aspects which are obviously a much bigger piece of the experience these days.

What makes me most excited is to think of how we can get the competitions like those in Omaha this week to resemble the competition in Reykjavík three weeks ago in certain aspects.  If we are looking for the best athletes in the world, then let’s make the playing field even for everyone.

Here are some pictures of my experience in Iceland…just for good measure.

–Sean Smith

Communications Director, Our Group Athletes


Sean Smith and David Spires bracing for the Open Water swim in Iceland.  Water temp was 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  Photo courtesy of Charles Ludeke (http://charlesludeke.com/)

Sean Smith finishing the Open Water race.  Photo courtesy of Charles Ludeke (http://charlesludeke.com/)

Several Team New York Aquatics athletes at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.