WATCH: Wade Davis On Being Gay In (And After) The NFL

Now a staffer at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, New York’s LGBT community-health center, Wade Davis was once a NFL cornerback who played in the preseason with the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins in the early 2000s. In the above interview, with SBNation’s Amy Nelson, 34-year-old Davis discusses his life during and after football.

He says he knew other players wouldn’t accept him if they knew he was a homosexual because of the perception that being gay equals being less masculine. “There was a part of me that was a little relieved [when my career ended] because, when I knew football was over, my life would begin,” Davis said in an interview. “I had this football life, but I didn’t have another life away from that. Most of the guys had a family and a wife, but I had football and nothing else.”

Photo: SBNation


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  • Jordan

    This queen should have stopped being so afraid when he was in the NFL and came out then instead of hiding in the closet like he did.

  • jason

    The funny thing is there are tons of men in the NFL who are at least bisexual. These men don’t like the politics of the gay rights movement. They don’t like to associate with political statements such as “I’m bisexual” or “I’m gay”. They see sexuality as something that is private and one’s own business. In a way, they have a point.

  • Lance

    Yes there are lots of bisexual and gay men in the NFL and in other pro men’s athletic associations, and they are ALL closeted and even the gay ones see their sexuality as something private and not public.

  • Hyhybt

    @jason: Those aren’t political statements. Unless, of course, you wish to say that letting people know you’re STRAIGHT (say, by not actively hiding the fact that you have a girlfriend) political too.

  • Pygar

    Everything is political.

  • Brandon

    Hyhybt-Actually yes coming out is a political statement.

  • Malcolm

    @Jordan: You really disappoint me. This is something we should be supporting, not ripping into him for being a queen (whether he is or isnt). Everything he said is quite accurate and its great to hear them from someone in his situation. It’s easier to say come out when you have never been in his shoes. I played ball for my uni and, although different, it was a similar experience (and I wasn’t trying to keep a salary!). Put away the claws everyone, this is something to support!

  • iluvcakes

    @Jordan: Publicly most of the players would have said they were ok with it but privatly they would have made his life a living hell and you know it. It’s easy for you to say that. I am masc myself and it always surprises me when str8 people make negative comments about gays when they don’t think your one. I understand exactly why he did it the way he did

  • Drew

    It’s good that this guy came out but he should have done it decades or years earlier when he was actually an NFL player and I agree that staying in the closet when he was in the NFL did more harm than good.

    I find it funny that some posters here on queerty are all for outing politicians or celebs; but then when a pro-sports star comes out after they’re no longer a player it’s all “OMG he had it SOOOO difficult! He had EVERY right to stay closeted!”

  • writing me


    Can you confirm that you would have done that if you were in his position? And if you were afraid or hesitant, do you think this type of attitude you have in your post would have helped matters?

    Also, are you in the public spotlight in any way? Are you walking around announcing to websites that you’re gay in an effort to help the GLBT community?

    In short: stop being a judgmental, complacent jerk.

  • RAW

    @Drew: So how long did you play in the NFL? I didn’t hear your Coming Out story on Sport Center

  • RW

    @Jordan: I bet your [email protected]@ot ass wouldn’t call him a queen to his face. Bitch.

  • Jordan

    RW yes I would. Wade Davis is a queen and a coward. He should have came out decades/yeas ago when he was in the NFL instead of hiding in the closet.

  • LadyL

    I love the point in the video where he suddenly reverses himself and says yes, yes he WOULD urge a gay athlete aspiring to make the cut to be himself, to not hide and lie just to get the job. Obviously, Wade is still shaking off the damaging effects of living a cautious, closeted life. As out as I like to think I am, I can relate to that.
    I’ve been nodding at almost all the comments here, because I’m pulled in two directions about this issue. I sympathize with these guys, who aren’t just afraid of disrespect and mistreatment from fellow players, coaches, owners and fans, but probably also are still grappling with family, community and self-acceptance as well. Athletes are the culture’s Alpha males, and Alpha males place a high value on being esteemed as leaders. Anything that threatens that self-image–like being revealed to be gay in a world that perceives gay as unmanly–is regarded with dread.
    At some point though, these men will have to confront their fears and examine their definitions of masculinity (or those imposed on them by our culture) more closely. Is manliness just about a take-no-prisoners toughness? Are there any other attributes that matter–Decency? Integrity? Kindness?–or are those considered girly qualities? And how manly is it really to hide and lie and be prepared to throw a brother under the bus to protect your secret?
    Yes, it is infinitely easier to judge and scold from the sidelines. And quite honestly I have no idea what I would have done were I in Wade’s shoes. But sooner or later every closeted person has to come to terms with the unpleasant fact that by hiding he (or she) is directly contributing to his own persecution. Things simply will not get better or easier or fairer for LGBT pro athletes until they start coming out and yes, while still in the game. This constant coming out only after the pro-ball career ends sends the unfortunate message to everyone that being gay and being a vital, valuable player are not compatible. Which is nonsense.

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