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Friday, October 24, 2014 | Last updated: 1:30am

Gay athletes would do well to go public



Gay guys don’t like sports.

That stereotype was in my head from a pretty young age. When a kid told me and my friends that he didn’t like sports, well, it would at least cross our minds that he was gay.

So when I found out that a gay man in the NFL might be ready to come out to the public, according to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, I thought I must have heard wrong, because supposedly gay guys don’t like sports.

We can’t let another generation of children grow up thinking this way.

“If you look at our league, minorities aren’t very well-represented,” said John Amaechi, who came out to the public in 2007, three years after he retired from the NBA. “There’s hardly any Hispanic players, no Asian-Americans, so that there’s no openly gay players is no real surprise.”

There is no openly gay athlete in any of the four major American sports leagues, and only seven have come out after retiring from their respective leagues.

Multiple athletes, like baseball all-star Justin Verlander and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, have said that they would have no problem playing alongside a gay athlete. While there have been athletes who said that they wouldn’t play with a gay teammate, for the most part, those people were criticized by the media and other players within the league until they apologized.

The 2012 LBGTQ National College Athlete Report found that out of 4,351 male students surveyed, only 3 percent identified as gay, bisexual or questioning.

According to the same report, twice as many LBGTQ student-athletes said they had experienced offensive, hostile, exclusionary or intimidating conduct than their straight counterparts. Not only that, but 25 percent of them said that they were pressured to stay silent about their sexuality.

Just like all hetereosexual men aren’t the same, all homosexual men aren’t the same. Just like I can cook and listen to the music from “Les Misérables,” a gay man can be a diehard sports fan and a stellar athlete.

Until there is an out-of-the-closet gay man playing in one of the major sports leagues, these stereotypes will never be fully eradicated.

It won’t be easy for that player. People will hate him for something that he can’t control and can’t change. He will receive threats. He will be called names. He will have to deal with the media and carry the weight of the LBGT community on his shoulders.

He will have to do all this because he will have been chosen to be the Jackie Robinson of the LGBT community.

Just like Robinson was symbolic for the civil rights movement, this athlete will become symbolic for the gay rights movement. He will be a role model to thousands of children today, and to many more in the future.

Wade Davis, a gay man and retired football player, said, “I think the real issue is that the idea that a gay man could play sports is an attack to straight guys’ masculinity.”

Straight men will be forced to admit that a gay man can be better at sports than them. It might be tough for some of them to swallow, but in the end, it will redefine sexual identity as we know it.

Going through your life being told that you have to act a certain way or like certain things because of what sex you’re attracted to limits your potential.

It’s time for an openly gay man to play in one of the four major sports. The LGBT community needs its Robinson.

—Dan Desrochers is the opinions editor. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @drdesrochers.


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