Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-02-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Billie Jean King shows pioneering spirit in talk with Kate Kendell
by Sari Staver
2018-05-16

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Billie Jean King's lifelong fight for equality began when she was 12, when the junior tennis player was practicing at the Los Angeles Tennis Club.

King, 75, recently speaking to a sold-out audience at San Francisco's Brava Theater Center, said she remembers noticing that everyone at the club was white. "Where is everyone else?" King asked her mom.

"It was my epiphany," said King at the benefit, which raised more than $20,000 for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The question about the noticeable absence of people of color was "not the kind of question you'd expect from a kid growing up in a conservative home," she said. But from then on, said King, "I just kept fighting for equality and freedom."

"I was lucky," she conceded, "because I had tennis as a platform," she added.

King, who lives in New York City with her partner of 38 years, former South African tennis star Ilana Kloss, was in San Francisco for an hour-long chat with Kate Kendell, the outgoing executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ). The event raised more than $20,000 for the organization.

( Incidentally, King has connections to Chicago. She was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 1999, and she and Kloss lived in Chicago for many years and still maintain an apartment here. )

Kendell, who is stepping down from NCLR this year after 22 years with the nonprofit, described King as a "badass" and asked her what it was like to be King.

The journey from middle-class kid to world champion tennis player was not always a smooth one, according to King.

"It wasn't until I was 51 years old that I felt comfortable in my own skin," she said.

King's early career had many victories, both on and off the court. Professionally, she becamethe top-ranked women's tennis player by 1967 and also gained wide respect for her successful fight for equal pay for women in tennis.

King is credited with launching women's professional tennis after she and eight other players broke away from the tennis establishment and accepted $1 contracts from tennis promoter Gladys Heldman, leading to the formation of the Virginia Slims Tour and Women's Tennis Association.

Then, in 1973, King defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes televised tennis match, a story that turned into the Hollywood movie Battle of the Sexes in 2017, in which Emma Stone played King and Steve Carell played Bobby Riggs.

But the early '80s brought a "dark chapter" into King's life she said, when her then-secretary and lover Marilyn Barnett outed King, who was then married to sports mogul Larry King ( not to be confused with the talk-show host ). The story made worldwide headlines and King's agents and attorneys advised to her to stay mum until the scandal passed.

"I wouldn't hear of it," said King. "I had to tell the truth," she said, acknowledging the 18-month long romance.

"Overnight, I lost all but one of my endorsements," she said. "It was a nightmare and I don't know how I survived" she said.

"I started my life over," she said continuing to focus on her crusade against inequality.

Looking back on the decades long battles for equality in womens tennis, King said she and the other early pioneers "convinced ourselves that we were doing this not to make a lot of money or get a lot of applause" but for "future generations."

"Any girl in the world can compete in tennis," said King. "For the first time, women were appreciated for their accomplishments, not just their looks," she said.

King acknowledged the work of Kendell and the NCLR, thanking her for the many victories the organization has achieved for the gay community. "We could not enjoy the life we do without you," said King.

Kendell, who grew up Mormon in Utah, said she remembers well the day that King held her nationally televised press conference, acknowledging her lesbian affair. "I remember feeling nauseous because of the shame, stigma, and internalized homophobia that pervaded our culture" at the time, she said.

King urged the audience to refrain from outing others. "People need to come out on their own terms," she said. "I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did" during the outing on national television, said King.

King said her conservative Methodist parents did not understand homosexuality. "Of course they didn't," she said. "If I didn't even understand it, how could I expect them to?"

Now that she has perspective on the process of coming to grips with being gay, King said she has compassion for her family's lack of understanding. "My mother would've been happy if I'd gotten married, had three kids, and came home" to see her every weekend, said King.

King said she gained further understanding of her mother when, at age 80, her mom talked about her youthful success in athletics. For women of her mother's generation, pursuing their own interests was not encouraged, she said.

"Thankfully, we are living in a different world," she said. The Brava event was produced by publicist Mark Rhoads, who said in an email he has "so much love and respect for both [King and Kendell] and "was sure that getting them on stage would be a powerful experience."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Arts alliance honoring Evette Cardona, others 2019-02-20 - Lesbian activist Evette Cardona will be one of three individuals who will receive the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance's Felisa Rincon de Gautier Distinguished ...


Gay News

Before Stonewall, The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community restoration out in June 2019-02-13 - ( February 14, 2019 ) — First Run Features is proud to announce the theatrical re-release of the legendary documentary Before Stonewall: The ...


Gay News

ELECTION 2019, 47th WARD. Angie Maloney on hopes for aldermanic post 2019-02-13 - Educator Angie Maloney, who is one of several openly LGBT candidates running in the Feb. 26 citywide elections, hopes to win the 47th ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2019, 33RD WARD. Lesbian alderperson Deb Mell talks feats, LGBT issues 2019-02-13 - Deb Mell has been the 33rd Ward alderman since 2013 and previously served in the Illinois General Assembly as a representative for the ...


Gay News

Black Lesbian Archives Chicago Tour 2019 at Gerber/Hart Feb. 23 2019-02-07 - Maekdo Productions' Black Lesbian Archives Chicago Tour 2019 opening event will take place Saturday, Feb. 23, 6-9:30 p.m., at Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'The L Word,' 'The Babadook,' Ben Platt, Ellen Page 2019-02-06 - Fifteen years after it first aired, Showtime plans to revive the lesbian drama The L Word, LGBTQ Nation noted. Original cast members Jennifer ...


Gay News

Women & Children First to host Chloe Benjamin, Anne Elizabeth Moore 2019-02-05 - Women & Children First is feeling the love this February at Women & Children First with two Valentine's Day event and a With ...


Gay News

Catrina Howard talks veteran life, founding female veteran housing project 2019-02-05 - U.S. Navy veteran Catrina Howard's journey in the military and into veteran activism began after she graduated from Roosevelt High School in Chicago's ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2019, 49TH WARD Lesbian candidate Maria Hadden on police, LGBT issues 2019-01-30 - When Maria Hadden moved to Chicago from Ohio she quickly got involved in political activism, registering voters for the 2004 election. From 2007-2010, ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Annie O'Dowd 2019-01-16 - Ann "Annie" O'Dowd, of The Villages, Florida, passed away Dec. 26, 2018. Annie was born on April 26, 1929 in Chicago. She was ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.