Former NFL player will serve as Pride Parade grand marshal

(PRIDEChicago )
May 31, 2013|By Riley Blevins @Riley_Blevins | RedEye

For years, Wade Davis closely guarded his secret.

The former NFL player feared the impact it would have in the locker room and front offices.

The ex-Tennessee Titan, Washington Redskin and Seattle Seahawk didn’t come out as gay until after his playing days were safely over.

After all, he wanted to be known as an athlete, not a gay person.

Today, Davis is better known as a speaker, activist, writer and educator. You can find him tirelessly raising awareness and support for LGBT rights, not cracking pads on the gridiron.

And on June 30, you can find him riding in a convertible at the front of Chicago’s 44th annual Pride Parade.

Organizers announced Thursday that Davis, 35, will serve as the parade’s grand marshal.

“Since leaving the league, [Davis] has gotten really involved in the LGBT community and has put a lot of energy into his efforts. He is just so involved. It really inspired us,” parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer said. “He was giving so much time and energy to the LGBT community, we thought we’d be honored to have him as grand marshal.”

Each year, Chicago’s June pride month features dozens of different events organized by various community organizations, groups and individuals.

This year, the pride month calendar includes choral concerts, dances, theater presentations, picnics, receptions, dinners and a dyke march to name a few.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Pride 365."

The parade itself will start at the corner of Broadway and Montrose, traveling the same route as last year.

“We’re looking for a good turn out this year," Pfeiffer said. "We hope that it’ll be a celebration that Illinois joins 12 other states in allowing same sex marriage. We’re hoping that the parade will celebrate that as well as highlight lots of other LGBT organizations. And really, we’re excited to have Wade with us.”

Davis served as an LGBT surrogate for President Obama during the 2012 election. In his role, he spoke at countless events on behalf of the president advocating for LGBT rights.

Recently, Davis launched the YOU Belong Initiative, a series of four-day comprehensive sports instruction and leadership development clinics for LGBTQ youth athletes and straight allies.

The first YOU Belong Initiative camp will be in Chicago July 25-28 at the Center on Halsted and will feature several NBA and WNBA athletes.

As for his football career, Davis was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Weber State in 2000. He was cut after training camp.

In 2001, the Titans allocated Davis to the Berlin Thunder, an NFL Europe team that won World Bowl IX.

After his season in Berlin, Davis spent the preseason with the Seahawks.

Davis returned to the Tennessee Titans in 2002 for training camp but was cut once again. In 2002, he went to camp with the Redskins but retired due to a leg injury.

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