Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had a hard time landing a job with an NFL team this season. But, GQ found room for him on the cover of its latest issue, which recognizes the activist football player as one of the magazine’s people of the year.
GQ‘s December issue names Kaepernick as the magazine’s “Citizen of the Year” in recognition of how the athlete’s decision to kneel during the national anthem (which he first did in 2016 to protest police brutality) spurred a string of similar protests throughout the NFL and other sports while also sparking a national debate over racial equality and the appropriateness of protesting during the anthem. Kaepernick told GQ that he wants to “reclaim the narrative of his protest,” especially after the original intent and message of the act has been overshadowed by the fact that it seems to have cost him a job in the NFL while inspiring a fierce backlash from those who see the protest as disrespectful (President Donald Trump has led the attack on the latter front).
GQ said the magazine worked with Kaepernick to put together a group of 10 people—including Selma director Ava DuVernay, rapper J. Cole, activist and singer Harry Belafonte, and Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour—to each write about social activism and protests, as well as the subject of equality, all in the context of Kaepernick’s own attempts to bring about more conversation on those issues.
The new issue of GQ also recognizes other people for its annual “Men of the Year” issue, including a woman: actress Gal Gadot, who became the first woman to anchor a superhero movie in over a decade during Wonder Woman‘s run atop the box office this summer. The magazine is also recognizing comedian Stephen Colbert, who saw a TV ratings spike by putting the political world (and President Trump) in his comedic sights, as well as NBA player Kevin Durant, who won his first championship earlier this year.