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Missouri Valley / Nebraska

Kennedy Finds Community Through Tennis

Andrea Gallagher | June 03, 2022

June is LGBTQ Pride Month and we are profiling USTA player Tammie Kennedy

 

Ten years ago, Tammie Kennedy took up tennis at the age of 46 as a way to meet people, get some exercise and relieve stress. Fast forward ten years and she’s a 4.0-rated player on multiple USTA teams playing 3-4 times a week.

 

“Tennis opened up an entire new world of social fitness and community,” she said. “Tennis provided an anchor for me to explore and enjoy an important aspect of who I am: athletic and team-oriented.”

Kennedy grew up in Arrowsmith, Illinois, a town of about 250 people in the central part of the state. She grew up loving to play sports such as volleyball, basketball and baseball and softball.

 

“I developed a love for sports early on. I was the only girl on the Little League Team after Title IX was passed in 1972.”

 

After finishing up her PhD in Rhetoric, English and the Teaching of English at the University of Arizona, she moved to Omaha around 12 years ago when she accepted a professor position at the University of Nebraska-Omaha teaching writing, film and gender studies classes. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she recognizes the importance of Pride Month, but hopes someday people within the community will be more accepted by the general public.

 

“My larger wish, however, is that LGBTQ+ people are no longer relegated to a specific month of celebration and/or recognition,” she explained. “Instead, I hope that people understand that LGBTQ+ people are a very diverse group, as well, representing the full range of our collective humanity and the vast diversity and difference of people within specific identity communities.”

 

Kennedy adds that it’s important to recognize the diversity and difference of all people and their contributions, but it’s also important to introduce people to other cultures and identities.

“From my experience, once people know the person rather than the label, real conversations, connections, and understandings can emerge. Like other identity groups, we are right here experiencing the same challenges and joys of life as anyone else, but navigating some extra obstacles because of others’ misunderstanding or ignorance about what it means to participate in other cultures or ways of being.”

 

In 1999, President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” Since then, Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden have followed suit. The month commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which occurred in June, 1969, when the Stonewall Inn was raided in New York City. 

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