Everyone knows about my not-so-secret crush on NFL player Scott Fujita. It is not a crush fueled by his big muscles, but rather by his outspoken support of gay rights in an industry that is frequently the nonchalant purveyor of hate speech.
A few things this week give me some hope that we’re on the cusp of breaking the no-gays-allowed seal in the world of male professional (non-ice skating) sports.
- Two straight athletes, a rugby player and a wrestler are discussing bullying and homophobia in sports in a cross-country speaking tour.
- Hockey player Sean Avery filmed a PSA for New Yorkers for Marriage Equality.
- NBA stars Grant Hill and Jared Dudley filmed a PSA for GLSEN called “Think Before You Speak” about gay slurs and the power of words.
- Former Division I basketball player Will Sheridan came out on espn.com today. His teammates knew all along, and not one of them felt the need to out him to their coach or fans.
And then, today, front page of the New York Times, a story about Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts. At 58, after four decades in the sports industry, Welts came out as a gay man. For fear that his sexual orientation would impede his career mobility (and let’s face it… it probably would have), he kept his personal life a secret. He couldn’t even share his grief with his colleagues when his partner died of AIDS-related complications in 1994.
Sportswriter Marc Lamont Hill says, “From my own experiences as a writer and close observer of the NBA, I could name at least five gay NBA players in the league, none of whom would be a surprise to most players.”
So here’s my prediction: I say within six-months a professional male athlete in one of the major American sports will sit down in front of newscameras and say, “I’m gay.”
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