|Billy Bean, via 2003 article in In These Times|
A decade ago I might have guessed we were on the verge of having a "gay Jackie Robinson." I probably would've predicted we were, at most, 2 years away from the day gay players would be comfortable coming out of the closet. And yet, here we are ten years later and it hasn't happened yet. Marriage equality is gaining wide acceptance, Savage's 'It Gets Better Campaign' is drawing huge support, Will and Grace has been off the air for years, but there's Glee ... is it really still that bad in world of sports?
Sadly, it probably is.
It's long past time for straight players to start speaking publicly about about how they would support a gay teammate. They shouldn't be waiting for the question, they should be bringing it up, encouraging the discussion and forcing the homophobes in the locker rooms to paint themselves into a corner so the rest of us can know who the bad guys are and not buy their jerseys, not ask for their autographs, etc.
I'll make the prediction now that we are at least two years away from an openly gay athelete playing in one of the big four professional sports (I still count hockey), but not more than five.
Related: While this post was in scheduled status waiting for the ten years to pass since my original post, Rick Welts, an executive with the Phoenix Suns came out. Also, Charles Barkley had something sensible to say. He must not have been on TV. And then Frank Deford weighed in. This topic sure has been heating up ... maybe my two to five year prediction is too conservative now?