Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight fighter Rashad ‘Suga’ Evans has gone public with his support for LGBT equality and the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Evans, who was narrowly defeated by Antonia Rogerio Noguera at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vagas in UFC 156 on February 2, made his support known by signing onto a legal brief to the US Supreme Court in support of marriage equality that had been put forward by NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Evans, who will next fight Dan Evans at UFC 161 on June 15 at Winnipeg’s MTS Center told Outsports.com that he had never understood why some people were so opposed to LGBT people having the same rights as everyone else.
‘I've never been a homophobe, never understood what that is all about,’ Evans told Outsports.
‘I knew some people who were gay and never cared about their sexuality. But at the same time, I didn't fully understand the issues around gay people until my friend [Brendon Ayanbadejo] started telling me about his full public support for gay marriage. We talked about the issue and I decided its not enough to not be against a minority - if you want things to go better for them you have to speak up with them'
Evans said that he hoped that his support, coming from such a macho sports background, would open minds.
‘I'm a UFC fighter, a macho-type sport. I am a heterosexual guy in a tough macho sport, which is exactly the reason I feel a duty to say I support gay marriage and gay rights,’ Evans said.
‘I have nothing to gain personally from supporting this issue, and that's the point. Society as a whole is better when there is equality, and I want to live in a country where everyone has the same rights because we all benefit from that.
‘What people overlook is that is isn't a sex issue, its a love issue. There's no justifiable reason for trying to get in the way of two people who love each other. I have kids. I don't want them growing up in a society where they, or their friends, could be second class citizens based on which person they fall in love with or who they want to be happy with.’
Earlier this year UFC 157 saw its first fight between two women’s fighters in which the sport’s first openly lesbian fighter, Liz Carmouche, lost to Ronda Rousey.
In 2009 UFC president Dana White moved quickly to apologize for using a homophobic slur against a critic and has encouraged gay and lesbian fighters to get involved in the sport.
Earlier this month, Fallon Fox, an MMA fighter from a different league, came out publicly as a transgender woman.