Maybe we should thank Kobe Bryant for calling that referee a “fucking faggot” because ever since he said it, queer rights have taken center court in the American pro sports arena. In fact, five recent developments in the world of athletics have made us stand up and cheer. And even though North Carolina state basketball player CJ Leslie recently made an offensive tweet about not wanting gays in the locker room (and has since apologized for it), at least their negative publicity has gotten queer issues off the bench and onto the court. It’s making fans, players, and franchises acknowledge an issue that should have come out of the locker room a long ago.
It’s getting to a point where homophobia in sports is actively discouraged, instead of just accepted as “part of the game.” Major League Baseball fined and suspended Roger McDowell the Atlanta Braves pitching coach who allegedly hurled gay slurs at a group of fans earlier this month. Bryant’s fine and Lewis’ scolding came quick on the heels of their occurrence. That means that more sports figures now realized that anti-queer slurs no longer pass for acceptable on-field behavior—such words have consequences and bad press not only perpetuates anti-gay sentiments but also makes entire teams and franchises look bad.
Plus, some sports stars are even making pro-gay PSAs. Carolina Panthers linebacker Nic Harris just posed for Adam Boska’s NOH8 campaign and bunch of football fans have even started petitioning the San Francisco Giants to make an “It Gets Better” video. I imagine, if an entire team came out to make a pro-gay statement, an openly gay player in a major sports league couldn’t be far off.