As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, it seems as if another cherished American institution is shedding its heteros-only veneer: professional sports. Kevin McClatchy, onetime owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, revealed he was gay in an interview this weekend with the New York Times’ Frank Bruni.
“I’ve spent 30 years… not talking about my personal life, lying about my personal life,” said McClatchy, who was the Pirates’ CEO from 1996 to 2007. “There’s no way I want to go into the rest of my existence and ever have to hide my personal life again.”
McClatchy, who lives with partner Jack Basilone, is the first MLB owner to come out. (Ex-Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts disclosed he was gay before taking his current position as Chief Operating Officer for the Golden State Warriors.) And though we’ve yet to see a professional athlete tackle the closet door while still playing, the environment has become friendly enough for players like Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe to speak openly about their support for the LGBT community.
McClatchy is concerned about backlash, though not from homophobes: “I’m sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it,” said McClatchy, who is now the chairman of his family’s newspaper-publishing company. “[But] Yyu’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue, and there’s no dialogue right now.”