Press Room

February 11, 2007

Category: In Communities of Color

Former NBA Star John Amaechi Named Spokesperson of HRC Coming Out Project

Amaechi to Conduct Nationwide Book Tour, Raise Dialogue Around Living Openly

WASHINGTON - Today the Human Rights Campaign announced that former NBA player John Amaechi will serve as a national spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project, a program designed to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people come out and live openly.

"John is making history this week, becoming the first NBA player to ever come out and talk about his life and experiences as an athlete and a gay man," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "In sharing his story, our great hope is that John will pave the way for more GLBT and straight athletes to openly support fairness and respect on and off the playing field."

"John is going to give a new face and a thoughtful, heartfelt voice to openly gay athletes in this country," said Human Rights Campaign Coming Out Project Director Mark Shields. "Young athletes - GLBT and straight - will now have a new role model to help show them the importance of competing openly, honestly and respectfully."

As spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project, Amaechi will promote the importance of being out and living openly and honestly while traveling around the country to promote his new autobiography Man in the Middle. A new website at www.hrc.org/amaechi features Amaechi's biography, high-resolution photos, book excerpts, book club discussion questions and more.

"I believe very strongly in the responsibility of people with power and influence to be role models," says Amaechi. "Living more openly in the later years of my NBA career was one of the things that radically changed my life. It made me happier. I want to spread my influence in the same way that I was able to because I had a basketball in my hand. I hope now to have perhaps a different lectern to stand behind but with an equally important message."

Amaechi will also be a featured speaker at the Human Rights Campaign's 11th Annual Philadelphia Gala Dinner on Feb. 17, 2007. For more information contact Paul Steinke at p.steinke@att.net or 215/472-5809 and to purchase tickets please visitwww.boxofficetickets.com/hrcor call 800/494-TIXS (8497).

Raised in Manchester, England, Amaechi graduated from Pennsylvania State University and has played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets, the Orlando Magic, the Utah Jazz and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The HRC Coming Out Project has featured other national spokespeople including George Takei of "Star Trek," Candace Gingrich, Betty DeGeneres and Chastity Bono. Additional information on HRC's Coming Out Project is available at www.hrc.org/comingout.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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