CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Among the crowds of fans who came to Charlotte earlier in February for the NBA All-Star tournament were prominent LGBTQ and allied figures in the sports field. Among those attending were former out Brooklyn Nets player Jason Collins, North Carolina native Reggie Bullock and out gay Golden State Warriors COO and President Rick Welts.
The NBA initially planned to move the All-Star Game away from the state due to House Bill 2, the so called “bathroom bill” known as HB2. That legislation required people in schools and public facilities to use the restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.
That law was technically overturned with HB142, which did away with the requirement that people use the bathroom corresponding to their birth certificate and removed a ban on local cities and counties from employing non-discrimination ordinances. But this didn’t convince many in the LGBTQ community and allies in the sports and entertainment field.
Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, gave what many considered a weak response to the decision to choose North Carolina citing he “felt from a league standpoint it was important and part of our core values, to work with people and ultimately to move forward with the community”.
While some consider Silver’s response lackluster, individuals within the organization made sure North Carolina’s LGBTQ community knew they were supported and that there was concern over the state’s lack of protection for them.
Reggie Bullock, recently traded from the Detroit Pistons to the L.A. Lakers, held a meeting at Time Out Youth Center, a long-time safe space and support group for LGBTQ youth. The NBA star is a Kinston, N.C. native, and has advocated for the LGBTQ community since the 2014 murder of his sister Mia Henderson, a transgender woman.
He stated to the Los Angeles Times that, “it was good for me to be able to be here with them and talk to them and hear their stories.” Bullock said “they weren’t holding back on anything. It opened up my eyes to what they have to go through on a daily basis, because when you randomly walk past someone, you never what they’re going through. I’m trying to educate myself every day as a straight man on this community that I stand up for and support.”