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Athlete’s advocacy leads the way for LGBTQ

Cornell’s Atticus DeProspo founded university chapter of Athlete Ally

Atticus DeProspo

Atticus DeProspo’s mother named him after a fictional lawyer who stands up for what he thinks is right. And like Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” DeProspo already is fighting for what he believes in.

DeProspo – the son of a judge and a lawyer who plans to pursue a career in law himself – is a soccer student-athlete at Cornell and the founder and president of the university’s chapter of Athlete Ally, a group that provides a support system for gay athletes. Cornell’s chapter has more than 70 members.

 “I just don’t think anyone should feel like they have to be limited in what they can and cannot do because of who they are,” DeProspo said. 

This year, among its many projects, the group raised money for a Cornell “You Can Play” video and for the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention program for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning teens. The You Can Play Project video series features sports teams, universities and other groups that have created inclusive messages welcoming to LGBTQ athletes.

DeProspo also penned an open letter on Athlete Ally’s national website, was featured in an episode of MTV’s “True Life,” and served as a panelist about diversity at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s conference. Recently, he was asked to be part of the coaches association’s LGBT Committee, an opportunity he looks forward to.

Inspired by Robbie Rogers, an openly gay pro soccer athlete, DeProspo decided last year to come out to his family and team as a gay man. Though the decision was not easy and DeProspo comes from a conservative, religious background, his family and teammates have been nothing but supportive.

“I feel very fortunate to have the family that I do and the teammates that I do have,” DeProspo said. “That’s another reason that I decided to start Athlete Ally. … I know not everyone has that situation like I do.”