CORVALLIS, Ore. -- As part of Oregon State University's "National Coming Out Week" observances, a coalition of campus and community organizations are sponsoring a panel discussion of lesbian, gay and bisexual athletes in professional and collegiate sports.

The panel, to be held in the OSU Memorial Union Ballroom on Thursday, Oct. 16, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., will be moderated by openly gay ESPN senior columnist and writer LZ Granderson, OSU's 2008 Lavender Graduation keynote speaker.

Joining Granderson will be former Beaver and NFL defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo, who came out of the closet as a gay man upon his retirement from the NFL in 2002. Tuaolo's 11-year career included stints with the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons, the latter with whom he played in the 1998 Super Bowl.

Also joining the panel will be Julie Williams, Corvallis High School coach, Gay/Straight Alliance advisor and recipient of the 2008 Mario and Alma Pastega Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching.

The fourth member of the panel, Kirk Walker, head coach of the OSU softball program, came out in 2005, the same year Beaver softball made its first appearance in the College World Series and he and his partner adopted their child. Walker is the only known openly gay NCAA Division I coach in the country.

This event is free and the public is welcome to attend. Special accommodations may be made by sending a request to Pride Center, or calling (541) 737-9161.

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