Gareth Thomas, ex-United Leeds winger, comes out
Sexuality and Identity

Time to Come Out

A fortnight ago American soccer player Robbie Rogers, a former Leeds United player, came out. In a statement published on his blog, Rogers described his relief at finally being rid of the secret that he had harbored for years and the happiness he felt with his decision:

Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

He spoke of how football had been his purpose and identity, but an escape as well. “Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined.”

And then he said he would no longer be playing. “Now is my time to step away,” he writes. “It’s time to discover myself away from football.”

Coming out is hard, and we each do it in our own way. I respect Rogers’ courage and admire the public manner in which he shared this with his fans and the rest of the world. There are countless gay teenage athletes, girls and boys alike, in whose lives this statement will make a difference, however small and fleeting that may be.

“Life is so full of amazing things,” he writes at the end of his statement. “I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest.”

A powerful message, but a mixed one, too. I found it sad that Rogers’ coming out would coincide with his retirement from soccer, as if he couldn’t be gay (a word he doesn’t actually use in his 400-word statement) and play the sport at the same time. It could be a coincidence, but I suspect not.

But it’s enough that he said it

He’s the not the first, of course. Dozens of professional athletes have come out, though many, like Robbie Rogers, only after they stopped competing. But their stories count. Olympian biathlete Joan Guetschow, one of the first lesbian athletes to come out while competing, once described in an interview how the Billy Jean King story helped her come out at as young age “I was relieved to know… even a great athlete like her felt similar to the way I felt.”

Gareth Thomas was another athlete who did it while playing. In 2009 he came out as the only gay professional rugby player (and by the way received the quick support of both his team, the Cardiff blues, and the Welsh Rugby Union). In an interview with BBC, Thomas expressed his hope that one day a young gay rugby player could come out and be accepted as a “talented gay rugby player”.

More gay and lesbian athletes—and actors and politicians and singers and all those who share the public stage and could serve as role models for gay youth—need to take this step. I believe they have an obligation to do so. In fact, I believe all gay men and lesbians have an obligation to be out not only to our friends and family but out at our workplace and in our community as well.

I have a hard time convincing even some of my gay friends about this, the public part, I mean. But I wanted to try anyway and I thought a letter might be a good way to start. A letter to someone who was comfortable with their sexuality but has come out only to close friends and maybe members of the family. I have an athlete in mind, but it could be anyone who enjoys some degree of visibility, an actor or teacher or singer. A scientist or politician, perhaps. Or indeed anyone with a professional, work or community audience. Which I suppose is probably all of us.

Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas, the only gay professional rugby player to have come  out while playing

Maybe you’ve forgotten what it was like back then. Before you came out to yourself and then to your friends. Before you accepted who you are, long before that acceptance deepened into a kind of affirmation. Before you became proud, not so much of being different but of having come this far and being able to live your life authentically, or, as much as you can “given the circumstances.” Now the thought of deliberate disguise seems absurd. This hard-won self, with all its imperfections and failings of character, may betray a friend in a moment of weakness but won’t deny its nature. But making a statement, this public declaration, that’s another thing, you say. Too in-your-face.

You say, “What I do in my private life is no one’s business. I’m out to the people who matter. To my family and friends.”

But you’re not out at work, and if you’re an athlete or actor, not to your public.

Maybe you’ve forgotten what it was like to be gay in high school. Of course you have memories of back then, and some of them are unhappy. But they have no edge. You’ve lost that visceral feeling, the pain in the gut that Rogers noted, the intimidation of the locker room, the overwhelming pressure not to stand out. And even if you didn’t stand out and played football or ran cross-country for the school, you forget how ill at ease you felt when your teammates bragged about their sexual exploits or when they joked about faggots, and how that made you even more watchful of what you said and did.

The locker room of professional athletics may still be homophobic, but you’re more confident now. You’re a professional doing his or her job, with respect off and on the field, and you’re not alone any more. Maybe some of your teammates even know. But that’s as far as it goes.

You don’t deny your sexuality but instead relegate it to the backstage. It’s not a closet you withdraw to and you’re not ashamed of it, nor should you be. The bars and gay-friendly restaurants, the houses of your friends, straight and gay, sometimes your parents’ home, too—these are places you can be yourself, comfortable with those who are like you or who accept you.

But it is a small space you have carved for yourself. And though you have found allies and lovers and like-minded friends, your circumspection is not all that different from the watchfulness that marked your youth.

You’ve forgotten how alone you once felt. You were sure there wasn’t anyone like you on the team, and maybe even worse, there wasn’t a gay hockey or baseball player anywhere.

But you’ve moved beyond that, you say. Who even wants to remember those years? You’re comfortable now, maybe even happy with who you are. What you do in bed isn’t anyone else’s business, you say.

Perhaps you’d be right if it were only a question of what goes on in the bedroom—who’s on top, where you most like being kissed, what turns you on. Yes, this is no one’s business at all. It could even be seen as just one more variant of the sexual act, a somewhat broader category of fetish than a penchant for feet, say.

But it’s not just the act of sex. It’s all the stuff that happens outside the bedroom that’s important. And this is often very much a public affair.

You know that already, though. If we’re in a long-term same-sex relationship, we pay different taxes, have different health insurance coverage and have a different (zero) share in our partner’s retirement benefits than a married couple will. If our company gives an extra allotment to its married employees, it probably doesn’t give the same to us.

It not just laws and policies. I’m not talking about the big things, the ones that create “statements”, like whom we bring to the company picnic or how we introduce our boyfriend at a cousin’s wedding. I’m thinking instead of all the times we hear colleagues talk about their (opposite-sex) spouses and lovers, all the thousands of references to (straight) sex that come to us, narrated, illustrated, sung about and painted. You’ve listened quietly to stories countless times. Sex is supposed to be the quintessential private act, (usually) played out in the most intimate of domains: the bedroom. But it’s not, in fact, so private. It’s always there, this attraction. The act itself may (often) be concealed but desire is everywhere to be seen. And isn’t that our difference—desire?

And because it is desire and not color of skin or the shape of our lips that marks us, we are perhaps the only minority that can render its property of difference invisible, in a way that those of race or disability or age cannot.

We are the only minority that has struggled for equal rights while at the same time claiming the privilege to remain invisible—as if we already lived in that ideal tolerant society in which our difference no longer matters.

Not all of us, naturally. Millions of gay men and lesbians have come out not only to friends and family but also at work and in the various communities which they’re a part of. And some to their fans and teammates and voters. But we could certainly be a lot more visible.

But you say you don’t pretend to be straight. You are simply discrete. You say you haven’t given your colleagues or audience cause to believe you’re straight or gay, either way. You think that in the eyes of others your sexual orientation simply doesn’t have a value: it’s unknown or inapplicable, to be supplied later, if at all—a perfect null value.

But people, like database designers (for a different reason) are uncomfortable with nulls, and in their dealings with colleagues and acquaintances will ascribe a default value, often subconsciously, to all sorts of properties they know nothing about, including sexual orientation. You are assumed to be straight in the absence of evidence or cues to the contrary. Your reticence in speaking about your life—the part you say is no one’s business—makes you an accomplice to this ascription. And this matters.

If our sexual orientation were more often in-your-face, so to speak, as inescapably present and visible as skin color, perhaps we would reach that society of tolerance we dream about more quickly. We are not a silent minority, but in certain fields—I think of cinema and sports—we are a relatively (and in the NFL, a completely) invisible one.

Megan Rapinoi, openly lesbian professional soccer midfielder

Megan Rapinoe, openly lesbian professional soccer player

I sometimes fantasize about a massive coming-out party, televised across the world, a kind of We-are-the-world happening, with gay and lesbian actors and athletes, all those men and women we’ve seen in the movies and Nike and Gatorade endorsements, in sit-coms and post-play interviews, now joining their voices in an amazing song of self-affirmation, not for themselves really, and perhaps not even for gay young people alone.

But that’s not going to happen. Coming out is so hard partly because you have to do it on your own. Solo.

Saying that what you do in your private life is no one’s business is a wish, not a position. Legislators have already made it their business. Bullies and bigots—including those that sit in the stadium bleachers—have long made it theirs, too. Our society may have become more tolerant and the school yards and playing fields somewhat safer but gay teenagers still have a four times greater risk of suicide than their straight counterparts. Until gay youth can grow up in a climate free of fear and intimidation it is everyone’s business what you—we—do in our lives.

You say you don’t need to make a statement. But your silence is a statement. And it says, “I consent to my invisibility and inauthenticity.”

Our life is a witness to our values and beliefs.We have a responsibility to our self and our history to bear witness to what we believe is true and right. We have a responsibility to our young gay brothers and sisters.

You may have heard about the “You Can Play” project. It joins gay athletes and their straight allies to challenge the homophobia in both the locker and room and the bleachers and work toward “ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.”

They aspire to creating a culture of sports which says: “If you have skill, if you have work ethic, if you can skate, pass, shoot, run, jump, hit, row or play – then you can play.”

This is indeed a world where it really is no one’s business who you sleep with. With the unique opportunity that your talent, hard work and self-discipline have given you, you have a chance to help make this world happen.

Do it.

Discussion

84 responses to ‘Time to Come Out

  1. “You say you don’t need to make a statement. But your silence is a statement.” – How true this is. Reminds me of a quote by Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you.”

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  2. amazing article, if everyone could read it and take something from it, there might be no prejudice against gay people in future… keep up the great job :))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a wonderfully written article and it hit close to home. I don’t have a large group of people I know and I’m certainly in no position of influence, but I’ve recently realized that my approach of keeping my sexuality on a need-to-know basis is rather selfish. What has helped me come out are the countless brave souls who have publicised their coming out stories and life experiences. I’ve decided the I need to do the same so that others who now find themselves in the same shoes I wore can have another example to get courage from. Thank you so much for writing this!

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  4. Great post. Thank you.

    If I may, I’d like to add a comment, but Christopher feel free to delete it anytime if you feel it would hurt someone’s feelings.

    I asked my mother when did she choose to be heterosexual. She forgot. Maybe because she is 82 now.

    I recommend some people here to read more, and in particularly to read more about some recent researches on epigenetics. I know, that won’t change anything since God didn’t create epigenetics. And people are free not to believe in genetics, maths, physics or whatever else.

    Sad to say but the worst attacks against GLBT rights often come from homosexuals who don’t want to accept their sexual orientation. There’s no need to be a specialist in psychoanalysis to understand that, just keep your eyes open. Many catholic priests are, to give only one example. I’m Italian, I’ve seen a lot.

    Thank you for this post.

    Ciao!

    Gabe

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    • Thanks, Gabe, for your interesting comment (and you’re right — some of the most strident anti-gay voices are to be found in the closets of Church and politics). I, too, wish that people need to become more familiar with the research, if only because of what’s at stake (equal rights). Personally I don’t think genetics is something to believe in or not. If science is a belief system, it is one that asks very little of us in terms of faith. Instead, science asks us to weigh the strength of evidence and the extent to which its concepts can explain a broad range of phenomena. But I see what you mean. People are free not to believe in science. They have a choice, as margueritaquitaine said here, to remain ignorant and uninformed.

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  5. You are a very good writer. You entitled to your opinion about whatever you choose to write about.
    I dispute the notion that if there is a relationship problem in the human community, the answer is to “get in your face.” Homosexuals have a right to choose whatever lifestyle doesn’t harm other people. They do not have a right to intrude into the lives of other people who for whatever reason do not believe that homosexuality is normal. People are free to choose homosexuality or prostitution or chastity or whatever they like, but the idea of assaulting everyone who happens not to think their choice is wonderful is an affront that is designed to promote combat, not reconciliation.

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    • Thank you for writing to share your views and for your kind comments about my writing. I think you may have misunderstood what I meant to say by “in your face”. I wasn’t proposing a confrontational stance. Just one of more visibility. I actually meant “in your face” somewhat literally — the important of making our (I mean, gay men and lesbians’) identity apparent so that others could not avoid seeing it. I don’t see how this can be called an intrusion. Would you characterize the color of a person’s skin or the shape of their eyes an “intrusion” or an “assault”? (By the way, most current scientific research suggests that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice but epigenetics)

      Actually there was a time when the majority of white Americans preferred — and created a whole set of laws that we now call segregation — to avoid seeing precisely this (racial) kind of differentness. Of course these white people knew there were black men and women in their communities, but thanks to legislation and social convention managed to avoid seeing them (other than in the role of employees). Black women and men who dared to be more visible than the traditional role they were ascribed were called uppity. Which is another way of saying confrontational. Don’t mean anything personal here. Just drawing parallels between the two arguments.

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    • Homosexuals find intimacy with the opposite sex as unnatural as heterosexuals find intimacy with the same sex.. Only bisexuals – who find intimacies with either sex as natural – can “choose” between the two. The problem is, bisexuals who choose a heterosexual lifestyle insist homosexuals can choose because they, as bisexuals made the choice. And because heterosexuals want to believe that, they elevate bisexuals to a position of bibical authority. Prostitution is fueled by far larger numbers of heterosexuals and bisexuals than homosexuals, as is pedophilia, and it’s a scientific fact that the most monogamous, enduring relationships are nor betweman heterosexuals but between lesbians. This is what people can also choose: They can choose to be uninformed, unenlightened, bigoted, racist, resentful, jealous, overbearing, self-righteous, and indignant. They can choose to be wrong.

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      • Saying something is a fact does not make it one.

        The overwhelming body of scientific evidence strongly suggests that sexual orientation is not a choice at all (as others have noted in their comments as well). This does not mean there has to be one specific gene to explain variation in sexual orientation but biology clearly seems to play an important role, especially genetic and epigenetic (how the expression of genes is regulated in the womb) factors. (A good start is the summary of evidence in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation)

        Even if it weren’t for the science, there’s another body of evidence—that provided by the countless gay men and lesbians throughout the world who know that their sexuality was never a matter of choice.

        The only choice I have made with regard to my sexuality has been to accept it and then to embrace it as an important, inextricable and beautiful dimension of who I am. Yes, beautiful, for desire has pointed me—oriented me, if you will—to love that is true and authentic. And how could that not be good?

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      • If there actually is scientific evidence that a sexual orientation other than heterosexual is beyond the choice of the individual, there must be records other than wikipedia. That is not an authoritative source. It is way too available to be manipulated by anyone with a membership. You seem thoroughly convinced that such evidence exists, yet I have failed utterly to find any such evidence when searching actual scientific journals. I am willing to read the evidence if you can point to real research.
        I am glad you responded to my comment, because it gives me the chance to say something I failed to say before.
        My conviction that homosexuals choose their orientation does not lead me to scorn. I have known people various orientations, including a transgender woman, and I have valued them and their friendship. i don’t reject people who classify themselves in some sector of the LGBTIQ identity groups. They have the basic rights of any other person to a lifestyle that doesn’t hurt other people.
        I do reject the political and social agenda of those groups. When people choose countercultural lifestyles they also choose the consequences. Human beings have always known, back to the first humans, that marriage is a union of a man and a woman, and that families consist of father, mother and children. The fact that some families are missing some elements is not a good reason for pretending that a family with a father, a mother and children is not best for both the family members and society as a whole.
        God loved the people he created and set them in families to learn about his love for all people. God loves you, too. He wants the best for you. He doesn’t prevent you from choosing any lifestyle you wish, even one that is harmful to you. In Christ, he came down in person to seek you out, because he wants to rescue you from harm. That is the fundamental truth about humanity; God loves us.

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      • If you’re looking for evidence, try the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association. All have concluded on the basis of reviews of current scientific research that sexual orientation is not a choice. Actually I say this more for the benefit of other readers. Apparently you have already made up your mind.

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      • I am quite ready to look at any evidence you care to produce. Please provide links, so all of us can examine the same evidence that convinced you. This is the scientific way. We all look at the same evidence and apply our own skills of critical thinking to that evidence. I am glad to do it if you produce the evidence.
        However, pediatric research and psychiatric research does not do the ground level research on genetics that would demonstrate incontrovertibly that there is a developmental element that produces a congenital marker for sexual orientation that can be reliably identified in every individidual. Peciatric and psychiatic research can test the hypothesis produced by genetic research, but they do no do the sort of work that provides the developmental processes and the evidence of markers. That is what it would take to prove that despite the obvious sexual indicators, the individual is ordained at birth to be homosexually oriented. My mind is open to scientific evidence, but I do not accept somebody’s opinion as evidence.

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      • Katherine, could you please provide links of your own as to how me being gay was a choice? I’d love to find out how I signed myself up for so many years of depression and even suicidal thoughts trying to cope with all of this. It is becoming apparent that you’ll refute any evidence tossed your way. Even if a study did prove that there were genetic markers, you’d probably dispute the controls and sample size of the experiment. God created me the way I am, and if what I am is a mistake, then I guess God isn’t perfect after all. I you, however, believe that God is perfect then I am no mistake and harm no one. The corollary to your statement that homosexuality is a choice would be that heterosexuality is also a choice. Why did you choose to be straight and how was your coming-out experience as a straight woman?

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    • I’m sorry, but no one wakes up one day and decides to be LGBT. There is enuf medical and scientific evidence now that our sexuality is part of our physical being. It is not a matter of choice. I was born straight. I do know people who were not or whose children were not. Do you know how hard it is to accept the fact that your are LGBT? Do you know how much courage it takes to tell your parents that you are ‘different’? Do you know how hard it is to find someone to love who will love you? Do you know how hard it is to have children and be accepted as an adequate parent? Do you know how hard it it is to live in a culture that still isn’t fully accepting of different sexual orientations? Or to live in a culture which will kill you if you are discovered to be LGBT? IT IS HARD.
      Certainly you have the privilege of not accepting LGBT persons. [And I agree..I don’t want anyone to ‘get in my face’ about anything.] I just ask that you consider that sexual orientation is no more a choice than it is a choice to be different in any way counter to the culture in which we live.
      Thank you,
      Addie

      I have written about this administration’s Friend of the Court brief re California’s Proposition 8 now before the Supreme Court in my blog @ addiej3.com.

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  6. Taking the English Premier League as an example. Who can name one player who has “come out”? Statistically speaking a certain percentage of those footballers will be gay, let’s say 5%. That means that well known household name footballers are gay. Personally it never bothered me and why should it? Unfortunately it is kept quiet within the football world and the only way word gets out is on the rumour mill. It will take someone to break through and “come out” and I think with one or two high profile players it won’t be long, although they’ll probably wait until the end of their career.

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  7. Really good article, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! The BBC did a documentary on this about a year ago and i found it fascinating then too – its probably somewhere on youtube by now as can’t seem to find it on Iplayer any more. Becoming more open to sexuality is definately something sport needs to consider – something similar to the ‘kick it out’ racism campaign would do wonders to help improve images of homosexuality within sport.

    I’m new to wordpress but I write similar stuff to this and I would really appreciate any tips to getting my blog read? If you fancy checking it out it is roberthorgan.wordpress.com

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    • Thanks for the kind words and the feedback. I’m probably the last person to give advice on getting read. I do everything a blogger /shouldn’t/ do—my posts tend to be rather long and the blog doesn’t have any focus. I write about too many different things.
      I’ve looked at your blog and I like what I’ve read. I think the question regarding the introduction of goal-line video technology to refereeing is /very/ interesting. A game-changer in many respects (it’s a major rewriting of the discourse and mythology of football, isn’t it?) . Wish you luck on the blog. Only advice I have: keep writing. And stay engaged.

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  8. Hi – congrats on being Freshly Pressed with this post! Very deserving. I agree w/ most of what you say — and you say it well – except that I don’t think we can say these public figures have “an obligation” to talk about their sexual orientation. Yes, it would be healthy for everyone if they came out, but I do think it’s a personal decision.
    Now if they are lying to the public, faking heterosexual relationships or something, that’s different. That’s unethical. But I think keeping it private should be their call.
    Congrats again!

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    • Thanks for the feedback and the praise. “Obligation” was perhaps a strong choice of word, but I do feel that someone who has been so greatly privileged in this life–whether by inheritance, talent or fame–has a heightened responsibility towards the common good, especially when this privilege depends to large extent upon a relationship with this public. But I realize this is a position of belief alone and I respect your opinion entirely. Thanks again.

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  9. Really great post! I think visibility is super important yet extremely difficult at the same time. It sucks that we have to feel so self conscious talking about things the rest of Americans can talk so freely about. Thank you so much for expressing this in words for us.

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  10. This is really interesting reading yet sad at the same time. My dad used to play professional football and my best friend is the cousin to Justin Fashanu the gay footballer who hung himself after coming out. I have had lengthy discussions with people and there always seems to be such a mixed opinions on whether things can change. I hate to write it but sometimes in the UK football carries a stigmatism with the fans of having to be “cool” or “bad” and until the mindset changes I am not sure that people can be as open minded to gay people as it will be easy to target + pick on people just because they have a different opinion. Football can do wonders bringing people together yet can isolate so many. I will be interested to see if this every changes in my lifetime!

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    • Thanks for sharing this with us. I should have mentioned Justin Fashanu in the post and I’m sorry I didn’t. He was among the most courageous of athletes to have come out. As you know, he did it in 1990, the first and for a long time the only professional footballer in the world to do so. He suffered a lot of abuse of fans at the time after he came out. Twenty years have passed since then and the bleachers have gotten somewhat less homophobic. The situation is far from ideal but it’s a little better. I’m hopeful. I think we will see changes in our lifetime.

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  11. I don’t know how well this prejudice seems to relate in view of your article (which I think is exceptionally well-written) but there are many stereotypes associated with homosexuality and athletics. As I woman, I can only guess that to be a homosexual in a men’s league meant that he would be perceived as less aggressive and less talented than he ought to be, despite probably working harder to not be perceived that way. But as a woman who has played aggressively in sports like soccer, I have seen how often truly athletic women have been called homophobic names because they didn’t possess certain gender stereotypes on the field. Look at the perception many straight men have of women’s basketball. I think those double standards alone make it difficult for athletes to come out. I do hope as more athletes come out this stereotype changes though.

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    • Oh, I think your point about gender stereotypes is very relevant to the discussion, particularly in regard to traditionally male-identified sports like football, rugby and hockey which forefront aggression. These stereotypes, of course, also play into the kind of ‘hero’ companies want to have endorsing their products and the pressure that a professional athlete feels to refrain from doing anything that ‘compromises’ this model image.

      And the perceptions that many straight guys have about women playing basketball—wow, that’s a post in itself. Perhaps you should write it. I’d be among the first to read it. Thanks for reading the post and sharing your comments.

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  12. Well written post and very thought provoking.

    When I was in elementary school and high school, to call someone gay, or faggot, was an insult, a put down. In university I had my first exposure to the gay liberation movement. I had to rethink some of the attitudes that I’d learned at an earlier age.

    I am a straight, Christian male. To be honest, I feel a bit uncomfortable about homosexuality. I don’t want to watch a scene with guys making out in a movie or tv show. My idea of family is two opposite sex parents, or in this age, the unfortunate reality of a single parent, the result of a failed relationship between two opposite sex parents.

    This discomfort is *my* issue, I own it.

    Even despite my discomfort, what I find worse is others who use their Christianity to justify bigotry, hatred, persecution. Being Christian means I have a relationship with God. It doesn’t mean I have license to judge and persecute homosexuals.

    When I hear the way my parents talk about black people, I like to feel superior that I don’t share that prejudice. Yet, am I really that superior, are the gays to my generation what the blacks were to my parents’ generation?

    It will be thinkers and leaders like you who will help people like me bridge that dichotomy between the discomfort I feel and the fair and accepting person I like to think I am.

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    • First let me thank you for sharing your views. I admire your honesty and the questions you’re asking (of yourself as well). I only wish more people examined their lives with the same rigor that it seems that you are doing.

      I definitely understand why you might prefer not to watch a scene with guys making out in a movie. I’m not all that interested in straight sex in the movies myself. But I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve seen thousands and thousands of such scenes. But most movies never have two guys kissing. I think it is the novelty of scenes of same-sex kissing that is bothersome. If we all grew up with a more representational mix of straight and gay kissing scenes in the movie, it soon wouldn’t make much of a difference to anyone who kissed who.

      For a very long time—things are changing now, slowly, but they are changing—gay young people grew up with cinema in which no one made love, not in the way they knew love to be.
      It’s hard to imagine this, actually, if you haven’t experienced it. To imagine a cinema in which no one made love. A world in which William Hurt would have used the door, Lancaster and Kerr would have gone looking for beach pebbles and Patrick Swayze would have let his wife finish her pot. (I wrote about this in a post if you’re interested https://sxchristopher.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/imagine-a-cinema-in-which-no-one-made-love/ )

      And since you brought up the issue of kids, let me just mention a link to the American Psychological Association, which reviewed available research on gay parenting and found that “there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. “
      http://www.apa.org/news/press/response/gay-parents.aspx

      Thanks again for the feedback.

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  13. You write so well and have a great point…how can homosexuality be accepted as an everyday part of life if we aren’t represented in music, sport, politics and so on? I agree that people in the public eye need to take the view they had as a youngster, pre-coming out, looking for role models.

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    • Much appreciate the feedback (and you kind words about the post). I like how you play with the idea of “seeing”: how individuals in ‘the public eye’ need to look at themselves through the eyes of a young person (“take the view”) — and specifically the young person that they were before they came out. What a wonderful image this is, thanks!

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  14. Completely agree with you on the “obligation” that celebrities/other people on public stages have to come out. It can be very liberating and comforting to others who look up to them.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

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    • Thanks! Yes, you’re right, it is a double message they send to young people: comforting (“you are not alone”) and liberating (“you can be what you want to be, whatever your sexuality”).

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  15. With each and every public figure coming out and being openly homosexual they are pathing the way for future generations to not only be comfortable being honest with themselves and others but also making it an issue that is in the public eye. This can only be a positive step toward more equal rights and the long awaited possibility of gay marriage.

    Congrats on being FP’d – great read.

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    • I like your idea of a path being cleared. It seems to fit, especially when you think that once the first openings in the path are made, it becomes much easier and faster for those right behind to broaden its swathe. Thanks for the input and, of course, for reading in the first place.

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  16. Great article. Chris Kluwe, the punter for the Minnesota Vikings, has always been very vocal about his support of openly gay players, of which he is trying to welcome in the NFL. This is a great post especially with the drama surrounding the NFL draft where players are being questioned on their sexuality prior to teams considering drafting them. You can hear what else Chris Kluwe has to say on his twitter @ChrisWarcraft

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    • Appreciate the feedback! You’re right, Chris Kluwe has been one of the clearest voices of support of gay players in professional football — and of marriage equality as well. You probably know that he and Brendon Ayanbadejo filed a SCOTUS Brief to urge the Court to strike down Prop 8.

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  17. Enjoyed your post which contained some good points. I may not agree that it is anyone’s “obligation” to come out, as I believe this is a personal choice and that no human “owes” any other human in this way or manner as everyone’s life is different (including the issues regarding gender, equality, etc. around the world), However, I respect your opinion and enjoyed reading your thoughts. Keep blogging and sharing!

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    • Thanks for the thought- (and dialog-) provoking comments and for the encouragement! I understand your point about obligation, and all things being equal, I might agree on principle. I suppose my point is that privilege–in the guise of wealth, talent, fame or sheer opportunity–exacts a price in the form of heightened responsibility. But mine is a proposition of belief not argument, and I respect your view. Again, much appreciate your feedback.

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      • You’re welcome and likewise. I appreciate the comments, points of view and the dialog, of which I think is the most important aspect. When we talk about being out, not being different than anyone else, acceptance and not just tolerance, etc. we all move towards being happier and more free. I agree about “heightened responsibility”…and hey, since so many people put celebrities on pedestals, if celebrities come out, or are straight supporters of gay rights, maybe more people would be inclined to start thinking the same way and become more accepting. I’ll take what I can get. 🙂
        Again, a great read and looking forward to more posts!

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  18. This is such a great post and some awesome points! I admire these athletes/musicians so much and to see that they are getting noticed for their courage to come out is just plain awesome and inspiring. Thanks for posting, and congrats on FP! ~ Nerd With Taste

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    • Thanks for the kind words! Yes, it is inspiring, isn’t it? I should have perhaps stated that more explicitly in the post. Not because more is at stake — a man or woman coming out at the office essentially risks as much as the athlete coming out to his or her fans — but because both acts are inspiring.

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  19. Many of my friends disagree but I do feel that gay people in positions of authority (celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc) have a social responsibility to come out. Once, I would have had sympathy for their situation and understood their choice to remain closeted considering what a drastic effect it would have on their career, but in this day and age those who do come out are inundated with support, they inspire young people and become powerful role models. This is an extremely important battle that is being fought, and to live behind lies and silence while gay people across the world commit suicide is simply not an option. Why work so hard to conceal your true identity just to appease a group of bigots who worship an image of you that is fictitious?

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    • I agree, ten years ago I could not have written this. But while endorsement contracts may (unfortunately) still be at stake for an openly gay athlete, coming out is certainly not the career-killing move it once was (and given the recent electoral success of gay candidates, not for the politician either). And I suspect you’re also right when you say they’d be inundated with support if they did come out. Joan Guetschow says basically the same thing when she talks about her teammates’ wonderful support in the interview I quoted in the post. Not to mention the support they’d find among their fans. Actors and athletes way underestimate their public. Thanks for the feedback!

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