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    Defiance19
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Shorts and Prompts - 6. Chapter 6 - Player Pride

This Newsletter Game was a Pride Month Headline. We were asked to google "Gay Pride" and then choose a headline and write a story/scenario from the result.

My headline: SPORTS LEAGUES MAKE their NYC PRIDE PARADE DEBUT

“Settle down! Settle down, men!” Coach Harding’s voice boomed off the conference room walls. This was followed by a shrill whistle as the players took a second too long to come to order. Quiet instantly followed, and all eyes landed expectantly on the head coach. The team manager, and the Jets team captain Jordan Plummer, joined him in the front of the room.

“Everyone got the memo about the leagues taking part in the Pride March this year, and we’ve already celebrated Pride Night. You all are here because you are the chosen who will join the front office on the float in the march.”

“Naw. Uh-uh. Aw, hell no, Coach. It’s one thing to do Pride Night and shit, but to march in a parade? Nah, I’m out.” David Conway stood, his chair scraping back noisily, as he prepared to walk out of the room. Jordan stopped his momentum with a hand to the chest. At 6’6”, and three hundred and twenty pounds, David was a big guy. So big, the team nicknamed the lineman Goliath. Everyone waited to see if he would swat Jordan’s hand away and keep moving.

“Sit your ass back down, G.” That was from Coach, and although Goliath stared him down for a minute, Coach’s tone brokered no argument, so he returned to his seat.

“Now, as I was saying. This is going to be a positive showing for us as a team, and for the league. We haven’t had a player come out to us, but we want it known that we would support any player who did.” Coach looked around the room at his players. “I know I speak for myself, and from personal experience, but I also speak for the front office when I tell you that we intend to be visible, and pledge to make a difference any way we can. We’ve come far, but not enough. It’s time for the sports world to break down those barriers.”

Jordan stepped forward. “We are New York. These fans give so much to us, and it’s time we give something back to them. We can help change things in a small way in the LGBTQ community, and in a way that will mean something. Goliath, you work with those kids over at the shelter, how many of them you think are gay, G? How many of them look up to you? Take this opportunity man. Maybe one kid will have the courage to come to you so he can feel accepted. All because he saw you in the march.”

As the room erupted into noisy discussion, Ellis Healy looked around at the mix of veteran players and rookies. This was his team–his family–men who were supposed to have his back. His eyes scanned the room and rested on his teammate Tracy. Tracy turned from his conversation, and his eyes met Ellis’ for a brief moment, before flickering away.

The two of them had had a tense conversation that morning, with Tracy calling his agent immediately, to see if he could get out of participating in the march.

“Trace, it’s not as if anyone would know.” Ellis had argued.

“I would know. Fuck, I think Coach knows. Why would he pick both of us? How can you be okay with this? We’d be on display. We agreed, Ellis, we agreed to keep this between us. Now we’re marching in a parade for the whole goddamned world to see.”

Ellis had simply pulled his boyfriend of three years to his chest and held him there until he calmed down.

“Babe, we live in the same building, but everyone thinks you’re two floors up. No one comes here looking for you, do they? No one knows, Trace. Coach would never set us up like that either. His brother’s gay, remember? I got you Trace… I always have you. We can do this, and no one will know.”

He understood Tracy’s panic. Neither one of them wanted to be out in the NFL and provoke the profound backlash that was sure to follow. Tracy’s parents were the coolest, but he was sure his father would kill him if he found out, and his mother would set the Holy Ghost upon him. For Ellis, it was the thing never spoken about with his folks.

When Tracy joined the team four years before, traded from Buffalo, Ellis found himself drawn to him. A fluke meeting at a Runyan Associates affair–unknowingly invited by the agent who represented them both–set them on the course on which they were now.

By the time the team spilled out of the Atlantic Training Center, it was as if a regular meeting had ended. Players departed with shouts, dabs, backslapping hugs, and good-natured ribbing.

 

The Sunday morning of the march rolled around, and Ellis awoke to find Tracy staring at him with a soft smile.

“What?”

“Nothing.” he leaned over and kissed Ellis’ nose. “I love you, you know.”

“I know.”

“Okay.” Tracy grinned, kissing Ellis once more. “Let’s go do this.”

 

The players stood on the NY JETS float, wearing their NFL branded pride jerseys and waving their rainbow flags at the crowd. They were equipped with JETS logo beads, lanyards, foam fingers and other accessories to throw intermittently into the crowd. The float itself was adorned with tassels in the recognizable New York Jets green and silver colors, but colorful rainbows were secured in between. The result was a sparkling rainbow wave as the float glided down the street. There were flags and banners, all announcing support of the LGBTQ Community. “New York Jets Celebrate Diversity, NY Jets Pride, NY Jets Pride Alliance, Equality For All and New York Jets Play with Pride.”

The Flight Crew, as the cheerleaders were called, in their green and white outfits and rainbow pom-poms led the float, dazzling the crowd with their routine dances.

The energy was infectious. Music, cheers and shouts of “Happy Pride,” filled every space around them. Ellis found himself lost in the amazing, loud celebration of it all. People were not afraid to be who they were or wear whatever the hell they wanted. Everywhere there were smiles, laughter, joy, and plain fun. It was men, women, and children coming together for one day to show the world they were taking pride in themselves.

He felt a shoulder pressing up against him and was not surprised to find Tracy by his side. His boyfriend was beaming.

“Do you feel it too?”

“Our first pride march, El. My heart is so full, I might happy-cry.”

Ellis laughed and bumped Tracy’s shoulder. “I get it, though. I feel everything at once…it’s… exhilarating.”

“That kid from the Kentucky Wildcats, Landon Foster, he just came out.”

Ellis hesitated before looking at Tracy, who was staring straight ahead and still waving his flag. “Oo-kay?”

“He said he is who he is, and he came out, and now he can start living and he can just be.” Tracy looked at Ellis then. “I want to start living, El.” Tracy pointed up at one of the banners. “I want us to play with pride.”

“Trace…” Ellis swallowed hard. “What do you mean? You said…you…” Ellis looked down, startled as Tracey took his hand. Well, damn. Tracey Whitehall, was holding his hand, in full view of everyone.

“I know what I said, El. But, that kid, how many more of him are out there? It’s like Cap said, how many of them are looking to us to lead the way for them. Foster is a brave kid. We’re supposed to be an example for younger players and youth everywhere, but what are we doing for the players like us if we’re hiding who we are. We make it impossible for them to just be.” He kissed the back of Ellis’ hand.

“Are you sure, Trace? Please, fuck, be sure, because tomorrow…”

“Tomorrow, we will deal with tomorrow. I want to start living, El. Now kiss me.”

“Happy Pride, baby.” Ellis muttered against Tracy’s lips.

The kiss that followed was met with gasps of shock, cheers, and Goliath’s loud, “Aww, hell, no! Fifty-two and Healy?”

Ellis heard Coach and some players admonish him, but what he couldn’t see, was Coach’s broad smile and look of pride as he watched him and Tracy. The kiss lasted longer than anticipated as they were encouraged by the chant of J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS, JETS!

HAPPY PRIDE!

I can't thank AC Benus enough for his help. He always come through for me and I appreciate it so much. Also, my endless thanks to Carlos Hazday who read this and gave me his advise. You both rock..
Copyright © 2017 Defiance19; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

I always feel people should come out when they are ready and hopefully they will find people waiting to support them. Loved how the coach made sure everyone knew he expected nothing but support. The whole thing made me smile.

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On 7/1/2018 at 12:33 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Big smiles from me, boss! Love it.

And that makes me smile.  Thank you for reading it, tim! 

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On 7/1/2018 at 3:53 PM, comicfan said:

I always feel people should come out when they are ready and hopefully they will find people waiting to support them. Loved how the coach made sure everyone knew he expected nothing but support. The whole thing made me smile.

Glad you liked it, Wayne. Thank you! 

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On 7/1/2018 at 5:44 PM, BHopper2 said:

A fun story. Loved it.

Thank you, A. Much appreciated.. 

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On 7/1/2018 at 7:09 PM, Puppilull said:

To be who you are, without fear, should be for all. Too bad it still isn't. 

An active Major Soccer League player just came out publicly.. he had been out to his friends, family and team, and has wonderful support. Hopefully,  it gets better and more people can just be who they are. 

Thank you, Puppi... 

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On 7/1/2018 at 7:20 PM, chris191070 said:

A great story, loved it.

Hey Chris, thank you.. I’m happy you loved it!  

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On 7/1/2018 at 9:15 PM, JeffreyL said:

Great short! And sometimes that moment comes that changes everything. I enjoyed Tracey and Ellis. You gave us a lot of information quickly and easily without it feeling like a laundry list. Buy the way, there are several good GA stories about athletes being out of coming out. Thank you for sharing this one! And feel free to expand it if the mood should strike you. 😉

Jeffrey, thank you for your lovely comments.  I really appreciate you reading this, and wanting more.  I think though, this is my end for Tracy and Ellis. lol. Thanks again. 

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22 hours ago, northie said:

Wonderful, feel-good stuff, Def. Progress on yet another front. 👍

Thank you, Northie.. I appreciate you reading this. 

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6 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

I love it when you make our dreams come true, Def. :hug: Wonderful Pride story - and a great slogan. We Play with Pride. I hope you get royalties once a team adopts it.

I’m going to market that now.  Let you know how it goes...lol. Thank you, Tim.  I’m so glad you liked it! 😀

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2 hours ago, Caz Pedroso said:

Wonderful and heartwarming all in one :hug: 

Thank you much, Caz!! xoxo 

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Ooops, seems I never left a comment. I remember thinking this story was about triumph. The triumph of love over fear. A timely story giving hope one day those fears will not be around to keep us from being ourselves.

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