As part of the second annual Allen Holmes Diversity Symposium on Tuesday, Sept. 9, Weber State University will host Wade Davis II, a former WSU football star who spent four years in the NFL. Davis announced he was gay in 2012, nine years after the conclusion of his professional football career.
Since his retirement, Davis has worked to open doors and change perceptions of gay athletes. He is the executive director of You Can Play, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
Davis will speak twice during the symposium, once at 10:30 a.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater and again at 6:30 p.m. in Shepherd Union Ballroom C. His address is titled “Out Athletes: Hidden in Plain Sight.”
“The Allen Holmes Diversity Symposium provides a wonderful foundation to talk about issues of inclusion and exclusion on campus and in our community,” said Adrienne Andrews, coordinator for WSU’s Center for Diversity and Unity and the Assistant to the President for Diversity. “This year’s theme is timely in relation to the number of professional athletes who have decided to be public about their sexual orientations.”
The conference will also draw attention to WSU’s new LGBT Resource Center, which opened this fall in the Student Services Center.
Davis was named executive director of the You Can Play Project in August, 2103. He is a former NFL player who is one of a small number of openly gay men to have played professional sports. He played college football at Weber State before spending four years with NFL practice squads and in NFL Europe. Davis also spent two and a half years working with inner-city LGBTQ youth at the Hetrik-Martin Institute in New York City. He co-founded the You Belong Initiative, which partnered with the NBA, You Can Play, and other LGBT Sports groups to provide the world’s first LGBTQ sports camp to inner city youth. A member of last year’s HBO “Out List,” He has written for the New York Times, Huffington Post, Outsports.com, and other major media outlets. He is on the boards of the GLSEN Sports Project and Go! Athletes.
The Allen Holmes Diversity Symposium was created in honor of Allen Holmes, an African-American who led the 1959 Weber College basketball team to win the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship. Holmes was the tournament MVP and a Junior College All-American that year, but his contributions to Weber State were not limited to the basketball court.
Holmes’ influence extended to the classrooms and halls of the campus. He played an important role in melting prejudicial and bigoted beliefs among the student body. In recognition of these contributions, a permanent endowment has been created through private donations to sponsor an annual symposium that deals with diversity and unity.