It’s the middle of 2011, and sometimes I can’t believe we’re not there yet.
But we’re not. Still, incredibly, we’re living in a country where not one major American athlete has come out of the closet and admitted he’s gay while playing his sport.
All the progress that has been made in America, and still, this fear and this taboo exists for the gay male pro athlete (and of course there are pro athletes who are gay. Anyone who believes differently is fooling themselves.)
Still, this week brought two encouraging signs of progress. Small steps, maybe, but steps nonetheless.
The president of the Phoenix Suns, and a very well-respected man in basketball circles, Rick Welts, admitted he’s gay in an interview with the New York Times. It’s a remarkable story, about a man forced to hide so much of who he was as he rose through the ranks of the NBA.
And then I saw this story on ESPN.com about former Villanova player Will Sheridan, who has come out and acknowledged that he, too, is gay.
Sheridan said something very beautiful in this story, something I want to share here:
“I’m trying to have a voice, and I want that voice to reach as many people as it can,” he said. “I mean, look at me. I’m black. I’m gay. I’m like a quadruple minority, and I feel like a little piece of me resides in everybody. Maybe there’s a kid out there who doesn’t think he’s OK, and he can look at me and say, ‘OK, he played college basketball. He went overseas. He has a music career and now he’s living his life. Now he’s who he wants to be and he’s happy and confident and comfortable.’ It’s my responsibility to talk about that.”
Amen, Will. Amen. I just wish someone in the pro sports spotlight right now had the same courage. It would do so much good for so many.
**Because anything that involves Mike Tyson is 12 percent funnier than it would be without Mike (I measured it, 12 percent funnier, guaranteed), I give you this: Mike Tyson and a pretty woman, ballroom dancing and looking damn good while doing it.
**I would love to have been in the meeting when Congressional candidate Dan Adler’s people told him that this ad was a good idea.
I mean, seriously???? Watch and be astounded; I was.