It’s an issue every professional team doesn’t want to discuss; having a gay player share a locker room with their macho, tough guy athletes. This issue has made headlines at the NFL Scouting Combine of all places this past week, as Manti Te’o auditions for the NFL. The questioning began.
Ever since Deadspin broke the story about his girlfriend never existing, his life has taken a turn for the worst. A friend of his came out and said he was the voice of the girlfriend for two years and admitted he was in love with Te’o. How can Te’o not differentiate the voice? Why won’t he just come out?
He can’t because athletic society says so. That type of behavior isn’t allowed in a “man’s” locker room. Anything feminine a man does is frowned upon and once a rumor swirls, your life is in trouble.
Hugh Jackman is known as the big buff Wolverine but a few years after taking on that role, he played a gay songwriter on Broadway. He recently amazed us as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and two weeks ago gay rumors arose. Why? Because he performs in musicals and Broadway isn’t manly.
A week later at the Combine, two players not named Te’o were asked in their interviews by a scout or General Manager “if they like girls.” It’s funny they would ask that question due to the fact it’s against league rules. There is a policy that expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Now people are calling for Roger Goodell to come out and make a statement by sticking up for gay football players. That’s not his job. It’s the team’s job and it’s players to accept the lifestyle. If the guy can play, what does it matter?
Gareth Thomas is one of the greatest Rugby players in the history of the sport. In 2009 at the tail end of his career, the Welshman came out of the closet. Rugby is considered the manliest sport in the world and fans thrive off of its violent nature.
Thomas said he was so good at it because he would take all of his frustration out on the field. Due to his fame, he had to protect his image because the “devil on his shoulder” as he called it, would ruin him. He married a woman, but he said he was a fraud for 35 years of his life. He lived a lie and contemplated suicide, for the last athlete to come out while playing was UK footballer Justin Fashanu who killed himself a few years later.
Shortly after coming out, Thomas’ team was playing one of it’s rivals at their stadium. The fans yelled out offensive chants. The result? The league fined the team, who then banned those fans from the stadium.
The sport accepted Thomas and the “devil” was off his shoulder. If an American athlete ever came out, Thomas said, “…he would have a legacy beyond his days.”
Former English NBA player John Amaechi came out after his retirement. He says he knows American male athletes that are gay and won’t come out because of the impact it will have on their life. They will no longer be “Superman” he says and kids will no longer look up to them.
Amaechi has the best quote about athletes being anti-gay when he described the “flamboyant” NBA locker room. “They primped in front of the mirror applying cologne and hair gel by the bucketful. They tried on each other’s $10,000 dollar suits, admired each other’s rings and necklaces…surveying the room, I couldn’t help chuckling to myself: And I’m the gay one.”
The athlete has nothing to fear when it comes to a gay teammate. Gay men go after gay men like straight men go after straight women. Would a straight guy go after a female if he knew she was a lesbian?