They're Here, They're Queer, They're Ignored

Mind The Gay Athletes

Gay folk are always calling for “straight” athletes to come out of the closet. Though rare, a few athletes have come out, like John Amaechi. Amaechi, however, followed a common path: revealing his true identity only after reaching retirement.

Yeah, it would be super if some quarterback or short stop or whatever came out as a cocksucker, but ESPN’s LZ Granderson doesn’t think you should hold your breath:

Many of us are so obsessed with closeted athletes and their possible effect on sports that we ignore the gay athletes who are already out and creating change.

Too quickly we dismiss the thousands of openly gay men and women who participate in rec leagues…every weekend, interacting with folks who may not have been around gay people before.

It seems to us that gay folk pay these jocko-homos no mind because they don’t fulfill the straight-worshiping some find integral to their love of sports. We know plenty of people who want only the fantasy, not the fag.

This isn’t true for all gay sports fans, but we’ve encountered more than a couple. And, quite frankly, it’s depressing.

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  • Bruce

    Maybe, they should come out when they are actually playing their respective sports?? Instead, it seems they only come out when their career is over and they have a book deal. What kind of role model is that? It is a little embarrassing the gay community even embraces them at that point. Like they did anything other than throw themselves back into the gossip limelight in hopes to make a few bucks…disgusting.

  • fabianlander

    charming gay.he is always be in my dream. i hear tell more rumor about him when i visit

  • Shabaka

    Right on Bruce!! They’re not “making change” while playing pro-sports but ONLY AFTER. And we understand homophobia enough to look past that but there shouldn’t be any expectations from those of us who are OUT to find their actions somehow HEROIC. Brave and applaudable yes! But until you come out ON the field, I’ll just read your book and move on.

  • hells kitchen guy

    When it happens, it will be indispensable superstar on the Michael Jordan level (q.v. Take Me Out). I say “he,” since you obviously ignore the many female pro athletes who have successfully come out in tennis, golf and basketball.

  • Paul Raposo

    “It seems to us that gay folk pay these jocko-homos no mind because they don’t fulfill the straight-worshiping some find integral to their love of sports. We know plenty of people who want only the fantasy, not the fag.”

    One of the most accurate statements ever posted on this blog. Until we get over our staight worship and our gay disregard, we will never fully mature as an inclusive community.

  • thegayrecluse

    Great post! What also depresses me is the fact that the professional sports leagues and their affiliated networks often seem to cater to an exclusively “straight” audience, which sort of reinforces the negative stereotype of, “if you’re a faggot, you can’t be a great athlete,” which is total bullshit. I personally think that gay folks would do a lot better to go out and play some football/basketball/hockey/baseball than to watch it on television, where it’s inevitably coated with a corporate, homophobic gloss that is really sickening. Until we stop swallowing the message, we’re part of the problem.

  • mountainryan

    Anyone who claims John came out because he had a book deal is sorely mistaken. John has said many times in many interviews that he came out because he felt it was the right thing to do for himself and for the community. He chose the book as his venue for coming out so there would be a complete and cohesive place of his thoughts, ideas, and feelings. I don’t think he made millions off the book and seeing how charitable he’s been with the money he’s made from his playing career I dare say he’s probably given a good portion of that money back to the community. Yah, I’ll probably buy a book and put money in the pocket of that kind of man without judging him.

    People like LZ call for gay athletes to come out which seems kind of reckless to me. First of all, coming out is a very personal process and no one can make a judgement call as to when an athlete should or should not come out. John retired years ago yet just recently came out. Why? Who knows, he did it when it was right for him. I would love to see an openly gay pro athlete however unless they were a really top notch athlete — and not all athletes are a Shaq — I can’t see how it would be a good thing for their career. First of all, it would create a media frenzy largely focused on creating hype about locker room stories. A player concerned with the game obviously wants the press on the game, not on their bedroom life. Secondly, imagine contract negotiations…Two players with roughly the same skill set — one openly gay, one not…Would a coach or an owner choose the openly gay player and willingly take the problems that may come along with that over roughly the same player who was strait? Probably not.

    Larry Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz refused to let Brokeback Mountain play in the theaters he owns. Doesn’t seem like an overly enlightened man, does he. And John chose not to come out when he played on Millers team? Seems like a responsible choice to me if he wanted to continue playing… if he wasn’t ready to retire yet, or be forced to retire. If the Jazz would have cut his contract and left him as a free agent what other team would have welcomed him with open arms?

  • gay as life

    mountainryan – you seem to be missing the point. LZ isn’t “calling” for gay athletes to come out. In fact, he says we should be recognizing the smaller strides openly gay athletes are making right now, rather that waiting for a big pro coming out.

    No one here seems to be screaming for gay athletes to come out right now or else. What a few people are saying, and what I agree with, is that these retired athletes should not expect some red carpet brouhaha simply for coming out. It would be a very different story if they came out during their careers. Then they would have every right to demand our attention. But until that point, all of these retired athletes are simply one more person who has come out, and who happen to have some interesting “locker room” stories. They are retired. They really have no reason to demand our continued attention.

    Yes, it would be tremendously courageous and dangerous for a pro player to come out mid career. But that is exactly why they would garner respect and attention.

    And, on a side note, although I respect Amaechi, I wouldn’t take him (nor anyone else) at his word as to WHY he wrote his book. It is merchandising after all.

  • Mark Walsh

    The worship of athletes to the devaluation of physical health is a just a perverse American disease. There probably are lots of closeted gay athletes-so what, that’s thier life.

    There is no more reason for gay people, than anyone else to be couch potatoes. We have a country full of overweight spectators -like with watching T.V you burn fewer calories than when you are asleep. Before I came out I started swimming and long distance running because I felt better, and always have liked doing athletic things sex included.

  • porchtime1

    mountainryan- you are a tool. i am 100% 50/50 you are a screwdriver. most likely a flat head.

    we should not bestow all the blame on Amaechi by any means, but it would be nice to have more positive, gay, athlete role models that are in the HEIGHT of their respective careers. This would prove both that gay people can compete with the big straights boys AND show younger generations how possible it is to be who you are regardless of what career path you choose.

    Lets get real, the first few times major male (i say male because i think coming out as an athlete is much more difficult being a male) athletes came out may not be the most positive experience for that individual; possibly denoting that athlete as somewhat of a athletic pariah. Yet, it would take great courage for that person to do so and would hopefully help dissolve the fear of gay athletes.

    mountainryan, I agree it took great courage for Amaechi to come out. I do not discredit him for doing so. I also believe there is a time and a place for everyone to come out and should never be forced. It simply would be encouraging to see a pro athlete take the BIG step of coming out during his prime when a team could not afford to let his sexuality trump his playing abilities.

  • ProfessorVP

    G.A.L., I have been saying the exact same thing for a long time. There is no courage, no risk, no ground breaking involved in coming out after retirement. The red carpet treatment should be reserved for the male team sport athlete, particularly in a nation obsessed with homo-hating like America, who comes out DURING his career. Not after. The fuss about Amaechi has been totally unwarranted and inappropriate. Yes, he is a nice man, intelligent, and super hot. A hero, a leader, no.

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