Via Deadspin comes this link.
I need to preface by saying I have been waiting for something like this to happen for quite some time. Just by the law of percentages, there have to be a significant number of homosexuals in professional sports. That's just the way it is. Just think about how many people from your high school or college came out of the closet over the years...you can't rule anyone out automatically because years later you'll be surprised. Through no fault of anyone's, you make assumptions one way or the other and end up being wrong sometimes. It's just the way it goes. Even a few weeks ago I learned a friend of mine from college was out and was pretty surprised; he banged half the girls I knew up there. I'm rambling of course...but the point is that stereotypes can be complete bullshit. So you cannot assume that since a dude has all the traits of a straight guy that he is, in fact, straight. Who was the guy on the Real World, Nehemiah? Maybe I'm confusing him w/ someone from another season because the show's gone to complete shit the last few seasons and I can't be bothered to pay much attention anymore, but not one stereotypical "gay" trait, right?
As a big fan of Playmakers (I am still mad at you, NFL, for taking that awesome show away from us), I always think of the Guerwitcz story arc whenever this topic comes up now. And while the show was incredibly dramatic and probably showed the worst case scenario, all of the stuff that happened to poor Thad could potentially happen to an athlete who comes out of the closet. There will be backlash from fans, and likely opposing players. Hopefully the locker room culture on that player's team would allow for minimal abuse from teammates, and in this day and age I would sincerely hope no owner or GM could/would go all Wilbanks on him.
Anyway. That all being said? Internet rumors are now flying that Richard Jefferson is gay, or bisexual.
The post gives these hints:
The NBA player, who is African American, has been linked to a number of women in the past - all of whom are Caucasian. He is also known for enjoying the night life with his teammates and good friend Tyson Beckford.They seem to not-so-subtly be referring to RJ. Everyone is well aware that RJ loves hitting up NYC clubs and having hot model girlfriends (is she even white?) and not-so-hot groupie encounters. And my friend found this (on Nick Carter's message board no less!):
The lovebirds [Carter and Paris Hilton], however, made up and walked back into P. Diddy's after-party, which was attended by Diddy's mom, Janice Combs, boxing heavyweight Lennox Lewis, singer Ashanti, actor LL Cool J, model Lauren Hutton, designer Zac Posen, model Tyson Beckford and the Nets' Richard Jefferson.And via Deadspin commenter BigSteve comes this:
The locker-room truth, as told by Richard Jefferson of the New Jersey Nets, is that athletes shower and dress in communal spaces and that many would feel uneasy about doing so in front of a gay teammate.The obvious thing to point out is that these are unsubstantiated rumors from a potentially unreliable source. I would hate to be aiding the spread of anything false.
The first openly gay male athlete will have to be a respected superstar, Jefferson said, likening it to Magic Johnson announcing that he had contracted the virus that causes AIDS. If there's an athlete thinking about coming out, Jefferson offered this how-to:
"You would have to approach your teammates and be like, 'Look, this is who I am. I don't like any of you. I'm not trying to pick up on any of you,' " he said. "Would it make people feel uncomfortable? Of course it would."
So let's speak in hypotheticals.
HYPOTHETICALLY, if RJ were gay, I would be absolutely giddy.
As a disclaimer here, I will admit to being a rather staunch supporter of gay rights, having someone extremely close to me being very much out and very much a champion of the cause. So if anything I say is offensive, I assure that is not my intent and I apologize ahead of time.
As I already said, I have no doubt that there are probably dozens of gay men in the NBA, NFL, and MLB (probably NHL and MLS and all the other sports too, I just don't happen to follow them). And it is going to be EXTREMELY difficult for the first "out" athlete. There have been several players that have come out well after their retirement (no names are coming to me right now, probably because my brain is fried...yeah fuck you, law school). But there is a general consensus that the first openly gay professional athlete is going to endure much worse than even the first guys that crossed the color barrier. Homophobics hate w/ as much passion as racists, and even seem to take homosexuality personally. And it is going to take one HELL of a strong man to cross this line.
I adore RJ and would absolutely love for it to be him. Unsubstantiated rumors be damned- a girl can always dream.
The converse of this of course, is that whoever takes that first step will be absolutely HERALDED by the gay community. Think Jackie Robinson for African Americans, times 1,000. In this day and age, the media is omnipresent and the internet is pervasive. If one provocative photo spread can make Brady Quinn an icon of the gay community...imagine what an actual openly gay athlete would mean? Especially one of RJ's caliber. While it is true that RJ does not have the exposure that someone like LBJ does, he is still a star on a (knock on wood) perennial playoff team. From what I have seen, the homosexual community follows its heroes persistently and loyally. This means that whoever the first gay pro athlete is will have 2 crosses to bear: standing up for himself vs. all the haters, plus representing the gay community as its likely poster boy in the ongoing civil rights movement. That is a lot of pressure to put on a guy, especially considering all the pressures pro athletes deal with on a daily basis anyway.
In any event, I have been saying for awhile (here's another shout out of my Queer TV class in college) that this will happen sooner rather than later. And I think it will be a GOOD thing. It's the freaking 21st century, ya know? I know as a nation collectively we are not above hate crimes, and that is sad and completely ludicrous. But if everyone is too afraid to take a big step, it's not going to get any better. At the risk of sounding preachy, as far as African Americans have come, there is still a perverse amount of racism coming from ALL areas of the country. There is never a "good" time for a group to take risks for their civil rights. So why not now?
As an aside...why is it that when girls are "bisexual" they're considered "curious," but ultimately straight...but when it's a bi dude, he's "totally gay...just fighting it" ? Or even that a bi chick is genuinely interested in both sexes, but a guy cannot be. I'm not a feminist by any means, BELIEVE me. But this just seems ridiculous. I know you can chalk it all up to society and blah blah blah but guess what? It's stupid. If I know a guy who's bisexual, then dammit, he's bisexual. Stop telling me he's just a half-closeted homo. That's ignorant.
(And I have my theories as to why "society" is more comfortable w/ lesbians than gay men- it has to do w/ the general unease most people have w/ the way gay men have sex vs. the way gay women do. I'm not trying to open up any discussion on the matter though...just thought I'd throw it out there.)
Anyhow. This post is probably making me sound like a left wing tree hugger, but I would like to assure everyone that is certainly not the case...I can be pretty conservative on some issues. Just not this one.
Let's make the leap, RJ...