Black History Month

Unsung Heroes: Wade Davis Charts A Course For Gays In Sports


During Black History Month, the mainstream media recycles stories about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X while LGBTQ outlets predictably trot out RuPaul, Bayard Rustin, Laverne Cox, and other examples of great African-Americans with whom we’re already well acquainted.

This week we’ve spotlighted a few amazing black unsung heroes. These people are leaders, journalists, and activists who span the entire African diaspora (i.e., not only Americans).

Next up, out former NFL player and LGBT activist Wade Davis.

After a college football career, Wade played for the NFL in the U.S. and in Europe. He played in the 2001 preseason with the Seattle Seahawks, and played in the 2002 regular season on the Barcelona Dragons.

He then bounced around between training camps and preseasons with the Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins in 2002-2003 before retiring.

In 2012, Davis came out and spoke eloquently about his experience as a closeted player in the NFL. His coming out led to a career in speaking, writing, and activism, and he has coached many sports figures on their way out of the closet since.

Gay sports icons Michael Sam, Derrick Gordon, and Jason Collins all came out after Davis. His bold revelation paved the way not only for those black gay men, but countless others in sports who may come out in the future.


Davis was a co-founder of the You Belong Initiative, which partnered with the NBA among other organizations to provide the very first sports camp for LGBT youth.

In 2013, he was appointed Executive Director of the You Can Play Project, an advocacy group specializing on the inclusiveness of LGBT people in sports at all levels.

We’re still waiting on that first out, active player in a few major sports now (particularly the NFL), but Wade’s work will make sure there’s a path ready once we get there.