Baltimore—— Unparalleled Athletes, a Baltimore-area organization, is empowering LGBTQ+ youth through sports.
The program creates a safe space for LGBTQ+ young sports enthusiasts.
Their goal is to normalize the queer community and their love of the sport from an early age, and to climb with pride.
“They see it’s an open space, occupy it and enjoy it,” said Thea Grillow, gym director at Movement Hampden.
Unparalleled Athletes has teamed up with Movement Hampden to support queer youth and allies who love sports and rock climbing.
“Our job is to facilitate these types of events and not just include these people, but elevate them and show them that our doors are not only open, but that we want to invite them into this space,” Grillow said.
In “The Unparalleled Athlete,” they present sport as the antidote to life and its many labels.
“Sports is one of those elements where you can really build community, where you can really make good friends, but when you don’t feel like that space supports you, that’s the missing element in your life,” Olanrele said of Oni, “Unmatched President and founder of The Athlete.
Oni is queer from Nigeria.
His love of the sport, along with his identity, created this safe space for queer youth to climb with pride.
“Also, from the standpoint of just building empathy, even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+, how do you build empathy for people in our community if you don’t see them often,” Oni said. “So I want to be able to do that because I want to have something like that when I was younger too.”
Oni is helping other young people like Will Fullerton, a high school hockey player synonymous with her and her.
“Sports, at least in my opinion, is more than just a physical activity,” Fullerton said. “It also helps you build community, it helps you build teams.”
On Saturday, June 17, during Pride Month, Unparalleled Athletes will host a fundraiser to continue helping young people excel.
Their message to other queer youth who want to fit in is, “You belong, you belong, and don’t worry too much about what other people think of you,” Oni said.
“Go for it, even if people tell you you can’t or shouldn’t do something,” Fullerton said. “Keep trying.”
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