The gay rights movement has made huge strides since the Stonewalls Riots, with recent victories against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and for gay marriage.
With Russia passing anti-gay laws ahead of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics the issue of gay athletes has become a central focus. When an image of Russian female runners kissing came out the media, like a horny 14-year-old boy, came to hasty conclusions and claimed a political message. The runners deny it.
They could deny the politics, but can they deny their true feelings?
But there have been several recent stories of LGBT victories in sports. Consider…
1. Jason Collins Comes Out
The holy grail of the LGBT sports movement has been to get an active player in each of the the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) to come out. This is made difficult due to the high profile and locker room homophobia, but that’s the same reason it would make such a difference.
The first high profile player to come out was Jason Collins, who came out in a Sports Illustrated column in March of this year.
Outing yourself in Out magazine is so cliche
While attention-getting, Collins is no superstar player and he was an unsigned free agent at the time. His latest attempt at getting signed by the Pistons fizzled out and his active status is in question.
2. WWE Star Comes Out as Gay on TMZ
Despite being more theater than sport, WWE wrestling and its macho, blue collar fanbase isn’t the most inviting place for homosexuals.
There are gay pride parades less fabulous than this.
That didn’t stop active star Darren Young from coming out. Instead of a coming out in a high profile sports magazine he came out to a TMZ reporter at the airport and it was almost casual.
3. Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe Support Gay Marriage
In 2012, Maryland was voting on whether or not to legalize gay marriage. Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was an outspoken supporter of equal rights, leading to state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. to write the Ravens owner in an attempt to silence him.
For some reason, Burns was afraid to say it to Ayanbadejo’s face.
In defense of Ayanbadejo, then Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote an open letter, calling Burns “narcissistic fromunda stain,” telling him gays “won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.”
And almost presciently stating “the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for ‘beautiful oppressionism’).”
4. Magic Johnson Supports Gay Son
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the most accomplished basketball players, from his high school career, to Michigan State and the Lakers. As former owner of the Lakers and current owner of the LA Dodgers, he holds a lot of influence in the sports world.
When TMZ reported his son was out and proud, Johnson vocally supported him.
“He’s hung this long. Whatever he does with it, I’m proud.”
Johnson went on to say he’d support any gay athlete on the Dodgers 150 percent.
5. NHL Joins Gay Rights Sports Org
While players have been coming around to gay athletes, the leagues themselves have taken baby steps toward fully embracing gay athletes.
But in April 2013 the National Hockey League and the Player’s Union announced they were partnering with You Can Play Project, a support group for gay athletes that was founded by Patrick Burke, son hockey executive Brian Burke. It was set up to honor the memory of his brother Brendon, who was openly gay and died in a car crash.
With the support of the NHL, a great step has been made to get homophobia out of the locker room.
The locker room his no place for abuse. Save it for the rink.