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How Many of Your Sports Heroes Are Gay?

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This past April, Rick Welts, CEO and President of the Phoenix Suns, had a meeting with David Stern, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. Welts revealed he was gay and intended to go public with the news. Stern’s reaction threw Welts … he already knew. So far the team hasn’t fled for fear of Welts sneaking peaks at them in the shower, or of him potentially changing their uniforms to lavender short-shorts with pink piping up the sides.

A week later, Kobe Bryant had a technical foul called on him and responded by loudly calling the referee a faggot. Then on a June 30 call-in talk radio show, the Philadelphia Eagles’ DeSean Jackson referred to a caller as a “… gay ass faggot.”

Even though the 1-in-10 ratio is commonly accepted among gays, according to a recent UCLA study, anywhere from 3.5% to 11% of people in the U.S. are gay or gay leaning; but for the sake of argument let’s put it at 1 in 50 … and apply those odds to how many members of NCAA and professional sports teams there are. The issue is inevitably going to come down to this: Sooner rather than later a popular American athlete like Dartmouth’s Andrew Goldstein on a major team is going to come out of the closet while still an active player. When that happens the issues won’t be whether his teammates run like screaming virgins from the showers or if the fans abandon the team. The issues will instead be related to familiarity.AndrewGoldsteingaypridei

Firstly, almost without exception, most well-known gay figures like Esera Tuaolo, John Amaechi, and Rick Welts were shocked upon finally coming out to discover that their teammates/associates with few exceptions had already figured it out and/or accepted it. Secondly, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know and like at least one relative, co-worker, close friend or neighbor who is gay. How do you negatively judge a teammate in the same breath that you’d reluctantly belittle or condemn your much loved lesbian aunt, a brother’s gay son or your favorite basketball opponent in the office league?Heroes

Eastern Michigan track star Austin Hendrix decided he was tired of lying to cover up and found it emotionally liberating to tell the truth to his coach, teammates and friends. The same can be said for cricket star Steven Davies, who related that the dressing room fag jokes and his team’s whole attitude towards gays became so oppressive that he felt compelled to come out, rather than begin a life of constant lies and made-up girlfriends.

In an interview, Swedish soccer/footballer sensation Anton Hysen (who speaks American English like a native) was quoted as saying, “…I’m never gonna come to your games again because you got a faggot on your team,” while describing some of the hate mail addressed to his fellow players since he recently came out of the closet himself. Hysen admits to being caught up in the “jock mentality.” In school he often picked on or berated known gay classmates to cover his own secret. Like Hendrix, Goldstein and Davies, he was relieved that the expected backlash didn’t come and in fact they were flabbergasted by the messages of support that they’ve received from around the world.

Sports Illustrated surveyed 1401 professional athletes on whether they’d accept an openly gay team member in their midst. The response revealed positive results: MLB 61.5%, the NBA 59.6%, the NFL 56.9%, and the NHL 79.9%. NBC and the USA Network conducted a similar poll of sports fans for their reaction to the prospect of openly gay athletes, and 86% responded that they would have a positive reaction to an openly gay male participating in sports. 78% also disagreed with the notion that openly gay athletes would hurt professional sports.

Perhaps the ultimate Major League sports heroes are the team members of the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox who made videos for the “It Gets Better” campaign telling young gay people not to give up hope and that their future will get better despite the bullying and the verbal abuse that they experience in their daily lives. The Giants’ video can be viewed here, The Cubs can be viewed here, and the Red Sox here.

Blind hatred and ignorant prejudice are deadly in today’s sports world, despite the Bible-beaters who would scoff that the problem is being overblown and exaggerated in this day and age. Here are two prime and all too true examples taken from recent headlines of tough and popular current world famous sports heroes, told in their own words, who almost took their own lives more than once rather than crack open that closet door.Hysen

Gay sports hero Andrew Goldstein was at one time the only major team sports person to be out of the closet while still playing as an MVP/All-American goalie for Dartmouth. He tells in his video of times when suicide was preferable to being branded a faggot or worse by his teammates. Goldstein relates how he grew up in a time when athletes were taught that the word “gay” meant stupid or weak. Fags existed to be depantsed in high school hallways or to have their heads forcibly shaven. If you listened to the venom in your friends’ voices, to be queer was to be spat on, beaten up and verbally pummeled every day of your life.GarethThomas

Following in the ultra-masculine footsteps of Australia’s openly gay hero Ian Roberts, comes 36-year-old Welsh hero Gareth Thomas, proudly flashing a smile featuring his famous trademark – two missing front teeth to a stadium packed with thousands of his fans roaring, “ALFIE! ALFIE! ALFIE! ALFIE!!!” As a player he is the personification of the word “fierce.” He is a versatile rugby footballer at fullback, center or wing and is also one of only a handful of openly gay professional athletes to come out of the closet while still playing. In 2007, Thomas scored a legendary try during the Rugby World Cup that earned him his 100th rugby union international cap. Currently he is a star for the Crusaders in Europe’s Super League after playing for Wales and the Cardiff Blues.

He lived and breathed rugby from his youngest boyhood fantasies. Family genetics, a talent for tactics, and hard work gave him the magnificent body required to conquer a brutal game so tough that it made the American version of it with its pads and helmets look like a school kid’s match of flag football at a junior high school gym class. Within his mind, alternately real and imagined self-righteous, pious and judgmental monsters in the dark constantly threatened to sweep all of his rabid fans and athletic accomplishments away.

That menace was so real that it would eventually force him to lie constantly to those who trusted him, and to seek out a girl and convince her that he loved her, ever conscious of the fact that he was robbing her of lost years of true love that she’d never get back just so no one would suspect he was gay.

His guilt-ridden conscience could take no more after trying to take his own life several times, and he eventually broke down in tears in a changing room after a game and came out to his coach and teammates after first confessing to his wife of three years. He is a hero for sitting down alone in front of a camera in order to keep others from suffering his fate. In doing so, he’d have to retell the most heart-crushing times of his life. Gareth’s video session should be required viewing for every macho team athlete or coach who ever laughed and called someone a faggot, poof or worse.

He tells honestly and candidly of the multiple times he’d walk perilously closer and closer to the edge of the tall majestically high cliffs of his homeland hoping for a strong gust of wind to sweep him helplessly to his death. Pain crosses his brow as he recounts the day he sat at the edge of his swimming pool with a bottle of vodka trying to get drunk enough to close his eyes and topple silently into the water never to have to face himself again. He also knew that that was the coward’s way out that so many other closeted professional athletes had taken—both named and unnamed that’d come before him.

After his millions of worldwide fans found out he was gay, Alfie was astonished that he’d become such a figure of national pride that he was even included in an exclusive list of celebrities attending Prince William and Kate’s Royal wedding.

Rugby fans hope that Alfie’s courageous honesty will assure that other young athletes won’t have to face the hell that he did. Click here to view his video

Perhaps some American jocks don’t fear the limp wrested pansy in their locker room as much as the ever numerous homosexuals that bulk up in gyms to transform themselves into threatening hulks. Maybe his loud protesting is worry that a couple of Gareth Thomases in a vengeful mood over his latest fudge-packer joke might padlock him upside down and naked into his locker to be later rescued by a snickering janitor with a pair of bolt cutters.

As more and more well educated young straight athletes have taken over professional and college sports, the general attitude has shifted noticeably. Instead of having been led to believe that a gay athlete comes in the form of a swishing sissy, most of today’s college and pro jocks have experienced for themselves that the “faggot” on the opposing team is capable of painfully mowing him down and doing a humiliating victory dance on his head … just to prove a point. Just like black baseball players and female cops before them, gay athletes want it known that their grit and determination to go that extra mile and prove themselves athletically against the stereotypes is to be sought out, and not avoided.

Someday, America in general and American sports specifically will stop being held hostage by an old church lady fanning herself with the Bible and gasping for air every time a player scratches his crotch or cusses within earshot of her. If only the refs could ban her from the stadium, I think the game would be a lot more enjoyable for everyone.

This has been Volume 3 of a series on gay athletes. Pleasr read Volume 1 and Volume 2.

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About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • jJoan, I’m not sure what the religio-political climate is like “across the pond” but this will give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here…

    …and thanks for contributing to the conversation.

    Click here

  • jJoan A. Smith

    Religious extremists tend not to have a great sense of humour. So I don’t imagine that the people who wanted to plaster anti-gay ads on the side of London buses were consciously trying to echo a well-known Monty Python sketch. But some of the phrases used in the campaign – “ex-gay” and “post-gay” – reminded me irresistibly of John Cleese ranting about his “ex-parrot”. This is what happens, I’m afraid, when humourless idiots try to be clever at someone else’s expense.

    Indeed, I was sorry when the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, decided that Londoners wouldn’t be able to see these risible ads, due to appear on two-dozen buses in central London from tomorrow. Johnson is running for re-election next month and he was never going to risk alienating the capital’s gay vote by nodding through an undeniably offensive slogan. But he now faces a possible legal challenge from one of the Christian groups behind the ads.

    They’re complaining about censorship and portraying themselves as victims, which is one of several reasons why I believe it was a mistake to pull the bus campaign. It’s almost always better to challenge bad ideas than to ban them, which runs the risk of appearing to suggest that they’re dangerous and radical. Secular and equality campaigners are wittier and more sophisticated than the anti-gay lobby; think of the fun we could all have had with post-this, that and the other jokes.

    In any case, the Christian attempt to subvert Stonewall’s slogan in support of gay marriage – “Some people are gay. Get over it!” – backfired spectacularly. If people are “ex-gay, post-gay and proud”, why do they need to “get over it”? Is this about “not gay” pride or isn’t it?

    But there’s another reason why I believe the campaign should have been allowed to go ahead. Over the past few months, we’ve heard a great deal about “aggressive secularism” from Eric Pickles, Baroness Warsi and church leaders. What they’re complaining about isn’t aggressive – it’s the application of principles of equality that don’t give special privileges to believers. But aggressive Christianity is on the rise, and a nasty campaign against gay marriage is the latest attempt to halt advances in human rights that benefit women, homosexual people and secularists.

    In that sense, the anti-gay ads have already performed a useful service, challenging the notion that the modern church is packed with sunny-tempered coves whose slogan is “live and let live”. The Christian groups associated with the campaign are homophobic and irrational; one of them, Anglican Mainstream, has supporters who compare homosexuality to alcoholism. Its website talks creepily about helping gay people to realise their “heterosexual potential”, and a letter calls for professional help for people who want to “resolve unwanted same-sex attractions”. Its signatories include Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Michael Nazir-Ali and Michael Scott-Joynt, former bishops of Rochester and Winchester respectively.

    Twenty years ago, gay people were still trying to get rid of Section 28. Now there are civil partnerships and we’re moving towards gay marriage. The religious right is becoming more aggressive about equality and human rights issues – abortion as well as gay marriage – because it’s losing the arguments. I mean, who really thinks that “not gay” pride will catch on?

  • Update:
    LONDON (RNS) London’s mayor has axed an ad campaign spearheaded by two conservative Christian groups because their ads suggest homosexuality is a disease that can be cured through prayer.

    The groups Core Issues Trust and Anglican Mainstream made posters reading “Post-gay and proud. Get over it!” and had planned to plaster them on the sides of London’s iconic double-decker red buses.

    The slogan mimicked a recent drive by the pro-gay rights group Stonewall, which used the line, “Some people are gay. Get over it.”

    The Christian groups’ campaign had been scheduled to cover the sides of buses for two weeks starting next Monday (April 16).

    But the British capital’s mayor, Boris Johnson, stepped in to ban it. “It is clearly offensive to suggest being gay is an illness someone recovers from,” the mayor said in a statement on Thursday. “And I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

    Core Issues and Anglican Mainstream both fund “reparative therapy” for gay men and lesbians to “cure” them of homosexuality.

    For the latest 1000+ worldwide Gay headlines click my name link above!

  • An anti-gay group supported by American christian evangelical missionaries in Liberia distributed fliers over the weekend with a hit list of people who support gay rights, and one member of the group threatened to “get to them one by one.” The fliers distributed over the weekend in parts of Liberia’s capital were signed by the Movement Against Gay’s in Liberia, or MOGAL. The group said those involved in promoting gay rights “should not be given space to get a gulp of air.”

    “Having conducted a comprehensive investigation, we are convinced that the below listed individuals are gays or supporters of the club who don’t mean well for our country,” the fliers read. “Therefore, we have agreed to go after them using all means in life.”

    “We will get to them one by one,” Tapleh said. “They want to spoil our country.”

    Asked what specific action might be taken against those on the list, he said they could be subjected to “dangerous punishments” including “flogging and death.”

    The list includes two men who launched a campaign in January to legalize gay marriage, and who have since been subjected to protests by angry mobs and threats of violence.

    Liberian law currently does not explicitly address homosexuality. “Voluntary sodomy” is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.

    One of the two new bills would make same-sex sexual practice a second-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The other anti-gay bill would make same-sex marriage a first-degree felony, with sentences ranging up to 10 years in prison.

    U.S. anti-gay missionaries have spent millions promoting homophobia, and it is rife in many African countries. Last year, Nigeria’s Senate voted in favor of a bill that would criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection. A newly added portion of the bill levels 10 years in prison for those found guilty of organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings.

    And in 2009, a Southern-Baptist backed Ugandan legislator introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians. The bill was reintroduced earlier this year.

    Even in South Africa, the only African nation to recognize gay marriage, gangs carry out so-called “corrective” rapes on lesbians.

    The flier distributed in Liberia warned that the group would begin taking action shortly. “Let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon,” the flier reads. “We urge them to also begin saying their Lord’s prayers.”

  • Here’s one I’m proud of, Vol I of this article still gets over 150-250 daily readers even though it’s six years old.

  • As for Batman and Robin, that’s a no-brainer. I still miss the suit with the nipples

  • Thanks Doc, I fell in love with Ambiguously Gay Duo the day I saw them. Have you ever seen an episode featuring their car?

  • Here’s an even better question-Why wasn’t Mike McQueery fired for not reporting it to the police and instead going to Paterno.

    McQueary should be held to the same “moral” code as Paterno.

    Paterno should sue for the remainder of his contract-he did not commit a crime and did not have the resources to hire a baby sitter for every single player and coach on his team.

    Yes WAS immoral what Sandusky did to those kids-but it’s wrong for Penn States Trustees to selfrigteously use the word “moral” when they passed judgement on JoePa

  • Give Penn State an EMPTY stadium this Saturday. I call for all Ohio State fans and all Penn State Fans to boycott the coming OHIO state Penn State Game.


    Jim Tressel did NOT send his players to a tattoo shop to trade Ohio State memoriabilia for free tattoos, but he was unfairly fired. Joe Paterno did NOT molest any little boys in the showers either.

    According to the “acquaintance molester” profile, it’s a mistake to place all of the blame on Paterno personally. Paterno was perhaps in the worst position to see or judge the alleged behavior, because Sandusky was his valued assistant from 1966-1999.

    It’s hard to identify those people close to you as a potential molester, because you know them so well, No one wants to believe such a thing of a friend.

    Which is exactly why someone at Penn State’s institutional level should have done better. It was the responsibility of Paterno’s more dispassionate superiors Spanier, Schultz and Curley to take a much colder-eyed, distanced organizational view of Sandusky’s alleged behavior. Instead, they failed all along the line.

  • Gareth Thomas is retiring from rugby – one of only a few professional athletes to come out gay during their careers, has retired from rugby, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

    “We can confirm that Gareth Thomas is officially retiring from both international and club rugby with immediate effect,” Emanuele Palladino, a rep from Thomas’ management company, said in a statement. “This marks the end of what has been a remarkable career for a remarkable person.”

    The Welshman played rugby league for the Crusaders in Europe’s Super League and previously played rugby union for the Cardiff Blues and Wales.

    “If you can’t give 100 percent to rugby then you can’t do it justice,” the 37-year-old Thomas told the paper. “This is a sad day but I know that my time has come to an end as a player.”

    “My passion for the amazing game will never end or leave me, however,” he added.

    Thomas came out gay nearly two years ago and over the summer he told the Mirror that he had made the right decision.

    “It’s been the best few years of my life since I came out,” Thomas said with a smile. “Coming out gave me a sense of relief and pride to be able to walk down the street. The curb used to be my best friend when I wasn’t out. I would be ashamed and walk with my head down. I didn’t want people to see me or to be recognized.”

    “Now I’m walking with pride. If people recognize me now they maybe recognize me as a rugby player or an inspiring proud gay man. I’m proud to be recognized for who I am.”

  • DETAILS OF GADDAFI’S CAPTURE AND DEATH… according to Reuter’s… I wish I had time to publish a separate article…

    Shortly before dawn prayers on Thursday, Gaddafi surrounded by a few dozen loyal bodyguards and accompanied by the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr broke out of the two-month siege of Sirte and made a break for the west.

    But they did not get far.

    NATO said its aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to pro-Gaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) on Thursday, but the alliance said it was unsure whether the strikes had killed Gaddafi.

    Fifteen pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns lay burned out, smashed and smoldering next to an electricity sub station some 20 meters from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte.

    They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels have assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader.

    But there was no bomb crater, indicating the strike may have been carried out by a helicopter gunship, or had been strafed by a fighter jet.

    Inside the trucks still in their seats sat the charred skeletal remains of drivers and passengers killed instantly by the strike. Other bodies lay mutilated and contorted strewn in the grass. Some 50 bodies in all.

    Gaddafi himself and a handful of his men escaped death and appeared to have ran through a stand of trees toward the main road and hid in the two drainage pipes.

    But a group of government fighters were on their tail.

    “At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use,” said Salem Bakeer, while being feted by his comrades near the road. “Then we went in on foot.

    “One of Gaddafi’s men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me,” he told Reuters.

    “Then I think Gaddafi must have told them to stop. ‘My master is here, my master is here’, he said, ‘Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded’,” said Bakeer.

    “We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying ‘what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What’s going on?’. Then we took him and put him in the car,” Bakeer said.

    At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said.

    Other government fighters who said they took part in Gaddafi’s capture, separately confirmed Bakeer’s version of events, though one said the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was shot and wounded at the last minute by one of his own men.

    “One of Muammar Gaddafi’s guards shot him in the chest,” said Omran Jouma Shawan.

    Army chief Jabr was also captured alive, Bakeer said. NTC officials later announced he was dead.

    Fallen electricity cables partially covered the entrance to the pipes and the bodies of three men, apparently Gaddafi bodyguards lay at the entrance to one end, one in shorts probably due to a bandaged wound on his leg.

    Four more bodies lay at the other end of the pipes. All black men, one had his brains blown out, another man had been decapitated, his dreadlocked head lying beside his torso.

    Joyous government fighters fired their weapons in the air, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and posed for pictures. Others wrote graffiti on the concrete parapets of the highway.

    “Gaddafi was captured here,” said one simply.

    From there Gaddafi was taken to the nearby city of Sirte where he and his dwindling band of die-hard supporters had made a last stand under a rain of missile and artillery fire in a desperate two-month siege.

    Video footage showed Gaddafi, dazed and wounded, but still clearly alive and gesturing with his hands as he was dragged from a pick-up truck by a crowd of angry jostling group of government soldiers who hit him and pulled his hair.

    He then appeared to fall to the ground and was enveloped by the crowd. NTC officials later announced Gaddafi had died of his wounds after capture.

  • WHY when we’re trying to concentrate on what we’re reading are we being bombarded with audio form ads on the fresh comments page?

  • About 200 active-duty troops and veterans wearing T-shirts advertising their branch of service marched in San Diego’s gay pride parade with American flags and rainbow banners, marking what is believed to be the first time a military contingent has participated in such an event in the U.S.

    Many of the active-duty troops said they were moved to come out because it is time to end the military’s ban on openly gay troops.

    National Guard member Nichole Herrera, 31, said she didn’t think twice about marching, even though the policy is back on the books. She said she was “choked up” several times as she walked down a main thoroughfare in San Diego, a major Navy port.

    “This is one of the proudest days in my life. It’s time for it (the policy) to be gone,” Herrera said. “I’m a soldier no matter what, regardless of my sexual orientation.”

    The crowd roared as the group waving military flags and holding placards identifying their military branch walked past the thousands.

    Every branch of service was represented, including the Coast Guard. Marines and sailors ran out carrying their branch’s flags over their heads.

  • And you can bet the right wing will squeeze everything they can out of it with disinformation.

  • Igor

    I thought S&P was pretty well discredited about 3 years ago when they were giving out AAA ratings to Lehman and various other scams. In a Just World they´d all be in prison for fraud.

    Would YOU invest in anything based on S&Ps rating?

    So I thought they just switched to political propaganda, where there seems to be no justice at all.

  • Should I begin to question why I even bothered to come back?

  • Latest, The treasury department caught the S&P error and when they reported it back, that’s when S&P downgraded us.

    It’s my opinion that this was done to embarrass the president and draw attention away from their own math mistake.

    Credit card companies will use this as an excuse to raise finance rates.

    Banks will use this as an excuse to lower savingings interest paid

    …and thanks to the GOP led house, Millionaires are the only ones who won’t be hurt by this.

    …and thanks to the slim margin and filibuster ability of the GOP in the Senate, they’ll be powerless too.

  • The downgrade was due to a screwed up calculation at Standard and Poor’s-Let’s see how long it takes the Republicans to blame Obama…

  • God help us all

  • Updated: Friday, August 5, 8:18 PM
    CNN broke into programming with them announcing that S&P had actually done it…

    Here is the only article I can find with any details from half an hour ago…

    Standard & Poor’s plans to enact the first downgrade of the U.S. sterling credit rating was delayed Friday night when the Treasury Department said that it had found a math error in the firm’s calculations, according to news reports.

    The White House was bracing for the downgrade, the reports said, after S&P officials advised the Treasury that it had decided to lower the AAA credit rating, which the U.S. government has held for 70 years. S&P decided to lower the rating after a bipartisan debt deal signed into law this week failed to assuage concerns about the nation’s growing


  • Click here for an inspiring video bio of Gareth Thomas

  • Since gays will soon be serving openly in the military, they’ll cut the defense budget.

  • It would make sense to give gay couples tax breaks since with all of our discressionary spending we’d hire maids and gardeners and buy more clothes and stuff

  • Thanks to all for your support on my comeback! To keep up to date on the latest worldwide news about gay athletes come visit at 1000 Gay Headlines

    And thanks again!

  • Our channel 10 newscaster baked a sheet of cookies on her car dashboard for the 6 o’clock news team

  • I hope this article does as well as the predecessor. Best of luck, Jet!

  • Thanks, much appreciated. You might enjoy their stories any way…

  • Hi Jet…I don’t know anything about sports but I still wanted to welcome you back! Keep up the great work!

  • An American active player would be nice. Maybe they can take Gareth Thomas’ example.

  • Steve

    It will be interesting to see how everyone handles the case of an active player coming out. Seems to be safer at this time to wait until you retiree to make your status known.

  • Good job, Jet. I knew you could do it.

  • If someone had told me a year ago I’d be making my BC comeback in Sports, I’d have laughed in their face. Thanks to all for the encouragement!