BEAN: One Pioneering Gay Athlete Thanks Another

I don't think I would have thought about the differences between John and myself until I read an online excerpt from his book in which he said he waited until he received a large guaranteed contract from the Utah Jazz to start feeling comfortable and secure about socializing in gay circles. I never felt comfortable enough to even "say" I was gay when I was a player.

We played in different times, and I am sure that John would say that he benefited from the courage of many openly gay and lesbian people while he was playing, even if he had never met them. I finished my playing career before I even owned a computer, let alone found friends or role models on the Internet -- so important in the gay community nowadays. It was a different time, plain and simple.

We in the GLTB community, and the media, keep waiting for more famous people to come out, but in reality, it's the brave souls who have lived openly, staring down the face of prejudice and judgment for the past 20 or 30 years, and the ones who refuse to let our country's current administration take away our civil rights without a fight, who deserve our applause.

I would love to meet John and congratulate him for his decision to tell the world that he is a proud, successful gay man. I have known that there are and have been many wonderfully talented and successful gay men and women in pro sports for a long time, and I hope John's story will reach people who continue to believe this is not true. I have no doubt John's being a former NBA player will undoubtedly impact many young athletes, especially young African-Americans, in a wonderful way.

I am very happy that John's decision was not forced by someone else, or shrouded in scandal. It seems that the media is all too happy to announce the homosexuality of someone, but not in a positive way, like the sad story thrust upon us of self-proclaimed "man of God" Ted Haggard -- which seemed to be more important news than the ongoing war that our young men and women are being asked to fight.

Truthfully, about a week ago, I heard rumors that an NBA player was going to come out of the closet from some friends of mine, so today when I heard the word "former" today, it felt like more of the same instead of progress. I am sure nothing but goodwill comes from today's news, but after seven years it's hard to remain patient as I keep hoping one of my brethren will believe in humanity and come forward while they are still wearing the uniform.

That is the day I will be in the front row wearing a jersey with his name on it, standing with pride and probably tears in my eyes, rooting my heart out for my new favorite player. Hopefully, Esera and John will be right beside me.

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