The Last Great Barrier: The Locker Room

Don Lemon revealed last week that he is gay. The biggest news this past week has been in the sports world, when a team executive, a former player, and a sports talk show host came out.

Over the past few days, four individuals revealed in different stories that they were coming out as gay.   CNN anchor Don Lemon, Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts, former Villanova University basketball player Will Sheridan, and Jared Max, a sports radio host on ESPN 1050-AM in New York.  All but Lemon are directly linked to the sports world:  one as an executive, the other a former college basketball player, and a radio personality.

Many will say that Welts, Sheridan, and Max were courageous to publicly announce that they are gay.  I feel it’s a relief for them because it was decision they had to make with conviction and weighing the consequences of the reaction towards it. 

These stories also point to an ongoing issue that many in the sports world, namely football, basketball, and baseball, will not talk about: being a gay professional athlete. 

Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts

The locker room is for alpha males, not wussies, so it has been said.  The locker room could be considered as the last place where the issue of gays and lesbians have not been discussed, if only in private. 

“It’s quite different for an African-American male,” he said. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.” He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.       

“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women.” He added, “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”

–Don Lemon, CNN Anchor, NY Times, May 15, 2011

Lemon’s quote is similar to what it is in the locker room. 

“Alpha Males Only.”

Nevermind politics, the struggle for gays and lesbians to be accepted in sports is the last great barrier, in the eyes of this avid sports fan. 

My opinion is that you can play at the highest level of athletic competition, regardless of handicap, race, sex, and orientation. 

That is, unless, you come out. 

And that has to change. 

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