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Shouldn’t Gay Athletes Have a Right to Cash In By Coming Out?

If it’s true that gay footballers stand to pocket $150,000 by coming out, should they be criticized for jumping at the offer?

Jason Akermanis (pictured), the Aussie footballer player who’s been recommending gay athletes stay in the closet because other players might have a problem, insists he knows two players that have each been offered 150 large to come out.

The claim has Eddie McGuire, chief of the Australian Football League’s Collingwood Football Club, on the defensive. While McGuire says he’d love for athletes to come out, doing so just for “marketing” or media attention would be the wrong reasons.

Unclear, of course, is the party actually making these grand cash offers, but it raises a decent question: Should closeted athletes profit financially from coming out?

To which I say: Why not? With a few caveats.

There’s no reason a gay athlete shouldn’t be able to pull a Chely Wright and turn a coming out story into a profitable exercise. After all, trading in on the secret you’ve felt forced to keep only sounds right in a capitalist society. The same culture that’s taught you to hide your sexuality is now the culture that’ll be willing to pay for it.

For now, coming out has its risks for active pro athletes. While there are fantastic coming out tales like Gareth Thomas’, even he has to deal with public scrutiny, both on and off the field. And then there’s the real financial factor, like possibly seeing your team not renew your contract, or witnessing your sponsors suddenly short on cash and looking to endorse another (straight and more market-friendly) player. Getting paid for your “I’m gay” story, then, acts as an insurance policy against the very real possibility of losing income.

And then there’s the other, moral-y side to this equation, which suggests human beings shouldn’t turn their cultural characteristics into bankable traits. Sure, Focus on the Family nugget Tim Tebow has undoubtedly secured deals because he’s so family-friendly and religious (he paints Bible passages into his under-eye smears), but should we be out there encouraging black or Asian-American athletes to trade on their ethnicity? Do we draw the line at immutable characteristics like sexuality? And is getting paid to come out really a transaction about sexuality, or secrets?

If we want to encourage more athletes in all levels of play to come out, we also have to be sensitive to what these athletes risk by publicly acknowledging their sexuality. There’s a reason Johnny Weir earns less money than Evan Lysacek, and it’s not all to do with gold medals. While out Aussie diver Matthew Mitcham has some decent endorsements, he’d never come close to Michael Phelps’ marketability even if he did win another 10 Olympics medals. And while a LeBron James-type might keep his Nike endorsements after coming out, his masculinity (which is tied directly to his ability to move product) will come into question and hurt future deals. None of these scenarios would be true in a perfect world, but I, at least, don’t live in one.

Of course we should all be fighting the notion that out gay athletes can’t be fantastic salespeople. But until the markets have been tested, I’m just fine with players securing sums for their coming out stories, “just in case.” What’s more, I’ll argue that the idea someone wants to pay to hear a gay person’s life story is a good thing — and one we should support.

By:          Ryan Tedder
On:           May 24, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,
    • Aaron

      I would say no. Coming out to cash in is coming out for the wrong reason. Yes, sure, they’re public figures and publicity keeps them alive. But coming out just to cash in and not for personal reasons? You’re ok with this??? I’m not!

      May 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Couldn´t Care Less

      He´s hot…even if he stays in the closet…pure lean Australian beef

      May 24, 2010 at 8:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scoop

      If you want more people to come out – then “celebrity” is not going to help you, me or the other guy. Period.

      Celebrity status means shit to any of us – unless you’ve got a gig(s) paying you millions, so that the ramifications of your so called celebrity courage in coming out, means nothing to your personal lifestyle in terms of personal loss and future loss of employment and lifestyle ahead of you.

      It’s easy to say…”HELLO, I’m gay”, when you’ve already banked in sexual denial, millions of dollars, while the ramifications of your voice means nothing to your own personal future lifestyle.

      Absent those conditions, when was the last time any celebrity did anything for any ONE of us?

      The problem won’t be solved by celebrity status.

      The problem will only be resolved when people value their own self worth of being Versus what they could become should they devalue that to begin with from the start.

      Maybe, once again, this should be the answer………..

      May 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kt

      Quit hating on Chely.

      May 25, 2010 at 12:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bubba in TX

      Boy, Matt Dillon really buffed up for that Speedo picture.

      May 25, 2010 at 12:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joey

      Wow, Akermanis is one ugly troll. Nasty!!

      May 25, 2010 at 1:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pip

      wheres my 500k? Promise I’d use it on school, and living expenses-and not crystal and golden butt scratchers.

      May 25, 2010 at 5:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR

      I’m actually going to say “why the hell not”. We have celebs selling their life stories about sex, drugs, rock and roll, family abuse…. you think all these folks appear on 20/20 for free? We see folks parlay racial, gender, disability, and other issues into profitable books and appearances, why not sexual orientation. There is a very real possibility that what Queerty suggests happening will in terms of income and endorsements, so why not capitalize on the fact that Americans love themselves a good celeb and ghost writer? Why not make it about something positive instead of filling the shelves with negative stuff?

      Please don’t tell me that you’re that naive….

      May 25, 2010 at 6:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

      Think he should be more concerned with having that growth on his chin looked at……… :-p

      May 25, 2010 at 8:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Johnny

      OMG Jason Akermanis is seen as a fool here in oz, with that bleached 80’s hair and dark beard he is known as “top deck” NOT HOT!. Australian rules football launched an anti homophobia campaign recently, where was “Akers”? worried about guys checking him out in the showers, someone is full of themselves i think…..

      May 25, 2010 at 8:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

      150 thousands is not enough incentive comparable to the millions you may be refused if you indeed come out.

      May 25, 2010 at 9:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tazz602

      Might as well cash in now before coming out becomes de rigueur

      May 25, 2010 at 9:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR (the real one, not the guy who made post #12)


      I would argue that depends on the athlete, now wouldn’t it? Clearly Matt Mitcham feels it was worth it…

      May 25, 2010 at 9:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jimsteele2008

      Now that’s what I call a progressive society! PAYING jocks to come out! I think it’s a great idea.

      May 25, 2010 at 10:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • OnCloud9

      he has a nice big package yumm

      May 25, 2010 at 11:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pithyscreenname

      His nipples scare me.

      May 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wade MacMorrighan

      Dayum, Jason’s HAWT!!!

      May 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexander A.

      Eww, I wish Akermanis would stay in the closet. A dark, DARK closet, so I don’t have to see his mangled face. You know how a lot of older gay guys will start buffing up when they finally realize they don’t have the face going for them anymore? Pictured.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan brickman

      must be gay for him to say that…..whatever happened to scott thorpe?…

      May 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Couldn´t Care Less

      @pithyscreenname: I like his nipples…yummy

      May 28, 2010 at 10:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • uberdude

      Incentive or not, come out, stand up and be counted. Silence is death.

      Jun 8, 2010 at 3:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Larry Craig

      That is hot!

      Jun 14, 2010 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pucifer

      MMM Daddy like! LOL

      Seriously, Akermanis is NOT gay? Well, whatever. His “look” couldn’t get any gayer!

      Oct 12, 2010 at 6:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason

      Who are they going to market to? The mainstream is exceedingly homophobic, especially towards the concept of male-male sexuality. There is a male-specfic strain of homophobia that runs right through society. Women are partly to blame for this.

      You also see this male-specific strain of homophobia in the marketing industry. Note how girl-girl is always marketed as “hot” but guy-guy is either never marketed or it’s marketed only in the context of some sterile camp queen in a teapot pose.

      Again, we need to blame women for this double standard. Women are enabling it.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 6:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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