How many current professional athletes are gay? An intriguing question, which for many reasons we'll probably never find answers.
Here are just a few good ones to consider...
From early on in high school sports, most athletic adolescent boys tend to seek out the weak in gym class to pick on and give verbal and physical abuse. To them anyone who didn’t play sports were sissies and fags to be beaten up in school parking lots in front of their friends. So it was no wonder that openly gay pro athletes are rarely heard of, or from.
After learning of Mark Bingham’s story (the gay rugby player who helped bring down Flight 93 before it hit the U.S. Capitol), I wondered what other sports pros, out of the approximately 4,000 active in the U.S., had the guts to face the inevitable judgment and fan hatred by coming out.
I was appalled to discover most had to wait until after their careers were over. There’s no doubt in my mind that in all corners of professional athletics from boxing to football, the ranks are full of gays. You’ve just never heard of them. This also includes the ranks of coaches, owners, or general managers.
The most plausible reason would be constant speculation of an opposing team’s sexuality as an insult among sports fans, some of which comb the web and enter discussion boards not only for information, but to start damaging rumors. A good example of this would be when sportswriter Skip Bayless publicly (and unfoundedly) speculated that Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman was gay.
More examples can be found in professional sports athletes like Dave Kopay and Esera Tuaolo (football), Martina Navratilova, and, of course, Billie Jean King (tennis). Unfortunately, because of the overzealous religious influence imposed on the U.S. recently, American athletes have suffered whether they actually were gay or not. The best illustration of why more don’t come out is shown by just looking at what Magic Johnson went through in 1991, when he summoned the courage to announce that he had AIDS. Suddenly his fans didn’t care that he had a death-sentence disease. No, they were more obsessed in gasping repeatedly, “Magic’s Gay!?!” Which, of course, he wasn’t.
An example of how misguided hatred of gays in sports can affect the athletes themselves comes in the form of 6'6", 275-lb offensive lineman Ed Gallagher, who played at the University of Pittsburgh from 1977-79.