by Chuck Colbert
The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) will honor Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of OutSports.com, with its 2015 Lisa Ben Award on June 25 at a Los Angles fundraiser.
The Lisa Ben Award for Achievement in Feature Coverage was established to honor a journalist whose body of work is distinguished by insight and impact through engaging features on LGBT individuals, the LGBT community, or LGBT issues. It bears the pen name of Edith Eyde, the creator and distributor of the first known U.S. lesbian publication and the inaugural winner of the award in 2014.
co-founder of OutSports.com
Like Eyde, Zeigler identified an area of LGBT life that was largely uncovered by mainstream media and provided a service to the community. Together with co-founder Jim Buzinski, Zeigler has grown OutSports.com, founded in 1999, into a must-read for stories of LGBT athletes and sports issues and broadened the general public’s understanding of LGBT people in sport. He is credited with breaking several coming out stories involving now well-known athletes like retired NBA player John Amaechi and retired NFL player Wade Davis. OutSports was purchased by Vox Media in 2013, incorporating it into the sports website SB Nation.
“Cyd Zeigler’s such an important pioneer when it comes to telling the real story about the LGBT community and sports," said, NLGJA president Jen Christensen. "There’s a reason LGBT athletes come to him first with their stories. Our community is so lucky to have such an able hand steering this important narrative for both current LGBT athletes and for future pros who will now know that they can have some confidence that they can be out as there have been others before them."
Reached by telephone, Zeigler said that when he and Buzinski started writing about LGBT people in sports, “Nobody wanted to talk about it.” That is to say, “Gay people didn’t want to talk about sports, and people in sports didn’t want to talk about LGBT issues,” Zeigler explained. “Today that is totally transformed, and it seems as if OutSports has been at the center of closing the gap between those two worlds. Today I go to gay parties where people are talking about sports, and people in sports media want to talk about gay issues all the time.”
“One of the most powerful pieces for me has been the athletes reaching out to me to tell their stories, and being able to craft the coming out of so many people,” he said, naming college basketball player Derrick Gordon, professional football player Michael Sam and Stephen Alexander. The latter is the country’s first openly transgender high school coach, in Glocester, R.I.
“These stories have been so impactful to me, and I feel lucky to have been able to write them,” Zeigler said. Receiving the Ben Award, he said, “is a nice acknowledgment of the contributions to making that happen.”
A former associate editor of the New York Blade and sports editor for Genre magazine, Zeigler has written for a number of news outlets including Sports Illustrated and the New York Times and has appeared on ESPN, FOX Sports Radio, and CNN. He is a regular contributor on CBS Sports Radio. He is the co-author with Buzinski of “The Outsports Revolution: Truth and Myth in the World of Gay Sports.”
A Massachusetts native, Zeigler is a 1995 graduate of Stanford University where he studied communications. He also contributes to The Huffington Post, Out magazine, Playboy, and The Advocate.
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