Wade Davis, a former professional football player, will speak to the K-State and Manhattan communities in the Little Theater in the K-State Student Union on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center, the Union Program Council and emPower Cats, the event is free and open to the public.
“[Davis] represents somebody that has had a lot of challenges in his life and is inspirational to those who are marginalized in some way,” Brandon Haddock, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center, said. “People tend to pigeon-hole others in certain categories, but with [Davis], he serves as a good representation of what diversity looks like.”
Davis spent six seasons moving between practice squads on the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and played for the NFL Europe teams the Berlin Thunder and Barcelona Dragons in the early 2000s. He is now the executive director of the You Can Play Foundation, which works to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Davis now works with at-risk youth,” Haddock said. “He is open and affirming. He serves as a strong role model for students who don’t think they have role models, because they are in athletics or a minority race. He is someone students can connect with.”
Davis, an African American man who identifies as gay, is expected to speak about sexuality and gender identity within athletics, touching on his own experiences and his work with the foundation.
According to a June 5, 2012 Huffington Post article, Davis said he came out after his time in the NFL was done; having a gay teammate might have made heterosexual teammates feel uncomfortable, he said. Although an injury ended his playing career, he could still leave an impact on the NFL, Davis said.
He said there is an opportunity to help professional athletics teams understand that when athletes don’t identify as heterosexual, it doesn’t change how well they play or perform and it shouldn’t change the team dynamic.
Davis will also speak about his experiences holding different minority roles and how they intersect daily.
“We hope that [this lecture] helps people understand that the LGBT community is a diverse community,” Haddock said. “We are everywhere and everyone. We can be professional football players, be women, be men, be transgender, be black, be white, be Native American, be everyone. If he is able to inspire one person, we have have done our job.”