Metro Weekly

Grant Hill, Renee Richards and Salesforce earn Athlete Ally awards

Award recipients honored by LGBT-inclusive sports organization for their commitment to equality

Hill (Keith Allison, via Wikimedia Commons).
Hill (Keith Allison, via Wikimedia Commons).

Athlete Ally, the organization promoting LGBT inclusion in sports, has announced it will honor NBA star Grant Hill, tennis champion Renée Richards and cloud computing company Salesforce for their dedication to promoting LGBT equality at its annual Action Awards.

Hill, an ally to the LGBT community, was recently featured in an anti-bullying public service announcement video produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). In the video, Hill tells young people that “words have consequences, we’re accountable for the things we say, words have meaning.”

“As a past recipient of an Athlete Ally Action Award, I can’t think of a better NBA player for Athlete Ally to honor, said Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA. “Grant is strong, dedicated, and unwavering in his commitment to LGBT people and inclusion in sport. He isn’t afraid to speak up and educate athletes and sports fans alike about the ramifications of anti-LGBT slurs.”

Richards, a former tennis champion and doctor, is credited with helping to change policies within the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the United States Open Committee to make both organizations more transgender-inclusive.

“Renee is a pioneer in the LGBT community and as she made the decision to be her authentic self, all she asked was that we accept her and include her,” said out lesbian tennis champion Billie Jean King, who was a delegate for the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. “With tennis as a platform, and as a successful ophthalmologist, Renée has continued to champion equality for all. She is truly a visionary and leader for athletes of all sexual orientations and gender identities. She helped all of us be more comfortable in our own skin and she is so deserving of the Athlete Ally Action Award.”

Salesforce made headlines earlier this year after CEO and founder Marc Benioff announced he would cancel all programs that require customers or employees to travel to Indiana in the wake of Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which critics said lead to discrimination against LGBT people. Due to backlash from a coalition of businesses like Salesforce, Pence and Indiana lawmakers were forced to pass legislation clarifying that the law’s intent was not to endorse anti-LGBT discrimination.

“Our allies at Salesforce made big waves this year for LGBT people in Indiana and beyond,” said Hudson Taylor, the executive director and founder of Athlete Ally. “When Indiana passed an anti-LGBT law, Salesforce — the largest tech employer in the state — put pressure on Indiana’s Governor to amend the law. Salesforce didn’t just release a statement, they put their money where their mouth was and immediately canceled all events held in the state, costing the state upwards of $9 million of event-related revenue. That’s powerful.”

The second annual Athlete Ally Action Awards will take place on Oct. 20 at the 40/40 Club in New York City. For more information, visit

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