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When it comes to LGBTQ acceptance, female athletes are years ahead of the men.

As stigma surrounding gay athletes has diminished, men remain reluctant to come out.

An estimated 50 LGBTQ athletes from around the world will compete during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

It makes these 2016 games, quite literally, the gayest Olympics in modern history with more than double the number that Outsports reported participating in the 2012 games.

What does this tell us? Nothing, really. It's not as though there's been some recent flood of gay and bisexual athletes into the world of elite sports over the past four years. Rather, it's far more likely that LGBTQ athletes have been part of the Olympics all along, just closeted.


That we're seeing such an increase in the number of out athletes is a testament to an overall increased acceptance of LGBTQ people. Obviously, the level of acceptance can vary wildly by country, but for the most part, things are going in a pretty positive direction. After all, being able to be true to yourself is a good thing, whether you're an athlete, accountant, or astronaut.

Four of the 12 members of the U.S. women's national basketball team are gay.

Elena Delle Donne, Angel McCoughtry, Brittney Griner, and Seimone Augustus are four of the greatest basketball players in the world. They also happen to be gay. In the world of women's basketball, coming out of the closet is treated as pretty minor news.

"It’s been normal," Delle Donne told USA Today in reference to the public reception she got after coming out in early August. "Nothing crazy. Obviously a couple of people wanting to talk about it here and there. A lot of support. It’s been really nothing too crazy, which is great. That’s where I hope our society moves to, where it’s not a story. It’s normal."

Delle Donne (#11) and McCoughtry of the United States run up the floor against Serbia during the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

This is a stark contrast to the men's team. Not only are there zero out gay men on the men's national team, but there aren't currently any in the NBA as a whole.

Of the NBA's 450 players, zero publicly identify as gay or bisexual. In the league's history, just one player, Jason Collins, has come out while still an active player. Collins, who came out as gay in 2013 after more than a decade in the league, retired at the end of the 2013-2014 season.

Collins (#98) of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates after making a basket during a game against the Denver Nuggets in 2014. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images.

While it's true that there aren't any publicly out gay or bisexual players currently playing in the NBA, that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Statistically speaking, it's highly unlikely that the league is without at least a few gay or bisexual players currently holding roster spots across the league. There are bound to be at least a handful out there.

"As a player, I’ve been that person where it’s really hard to come out. It’s super hard. You’re just not comfortable with it. You’re worried about not being accepted, being rejected, being cast out. It’s tough. It’s really tough." — Brittney Griner, WNBA

In 2013, NBA hall of fame player Charles Barkley told radio host Dan Patrick, "Everybody (in the league) has played with a gay teammate."

Former player John Amaechi (#13) came out as a gay man long after his NBA career ended. Photo by Jess Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images.

Why is there such a disparity in the stigma surrounding gay athletes between men's and women's sports? That's what some of the top women's players want to know.

"I would love to see more (come out) on the men’s side, more players feel comfortable to come out," Griner told USA Today. "But I also understand it because as a player, I’ve been that person where it’s really hard to come out. It’s super hard. You’re just not comfortable with it. You’re worried about not being accepted, being rejected, being cast out. It’s tough. It’s really tough."

Griner of the United States and Maimouna Diarra of Senegal play during the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.

"I would love to see that (sort of support in the NBA), if there are any (gay men). No one should have to hide who they are," Delle Donne added.

Delle Donne reacts to a call against Serbia at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

When it comes to LGBTQ visibility in sports, women historically have been further along than men.

"Female athletes have been ahead of the men in terms of coming out publicly for years," Cyd Zeigler of Outsports said in an e-mail. "Part of that is that there are more lesbian and bisexual women in elite-level sports than there are gay and bisexual men. That means not just more athletes and coaches to come out, but also a larger support structure within the sport for LGBT women than the men. Plus you have an overall broader cultural acceptance of gay and bisexual women than men have."

Zeigler, who pretty much wrote the book on LGBTQ athletes, thinks it'll only be a matter of time before male athletes catch up to women in terms of coming out.

The good news is that by all indications, the NBA appears to be fully supportive of future gay or bisexual players.

Between its handling of Collins' coming out and the 2017 NBA All-Star game, the league is putting together a pretty LGBTQ-friendly appearance. After the state of North Carolina passed a law that many had labelled anti-LGBTQ (specifically, it targeted transgender individuals), the league warned that without substantial changes to the law, they would have no choice but to pull the game, slated to be played in Charlotte, from the state. The state didn't make the necessary changes, and in July, the NBA announced that it would follow through on its threat, moving the game to another city.

"While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2," the league said in a statement.

Larry Tanenbaum presents Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan a jersey signifying Charlotte as the host city for the 2017 All-Star game in February 2016. Months later, the league stripped the city of the game in response to the state's anti-LGBTQ law. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images.

Hopefully, as time goes on, stigma surrounding gay athletes will continue to diminish. No one should have to hide who they are.

Collins will not go down in history as the only NBA player to be out as gay during his career. The question is whether the next athlete to follow in his footsteps is already in the league or not.

Seton Hall's Derrick Gordon became the first out gay NCAA Division I men's basketball player when he came out. Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images.

In the meantime, maybe the men could take a lesson or two from the ladies.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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