No American male athlete on a professional sports
team—football, basketball, baseball, or hockey—has ever come out as being gay
while still playing. Multiple players have revealed themselves after retiring.
Several professional female athletes have come out while still playing for
But the possibility of having a gay American male
athlete is now on the public agenda and leagues as well as individuals are
striving to be more inclusive.
The National Hockey League is taking steps to be the
first among professional leagues to show support for team members who want to
reveal themselves as being gay or lesbian. They have joined forces with the You
Can Play Project, an advocacy group fighting against homophobia in sports
In addition to the NHL, many individual athletes are
also coming forward to say that they support gay rights even if they are
straight themselves. Chris Kluwe, punter for the Minnesota Vikings, went live
on CNN to talk about the need to end homophobia.
This is not just an issue for the major leagues but
also something that can affect college and even high school teams. Tristan
King, secretary for Gender Sexuality Alliance group at the University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point, commented on the topic.
“I think that the tides are definitely changing for
sports,” King said. “I think that athletes and sports organizations are also
taking homophobia more seriously. If a sports player makes a comment using the
F-word or calling someone gay as a slur, they take offense and make it a bigger
deal than it used to be. So I think it’s definitely going to a better degree
than it used to be.”
King mentioned that he would like to see all UWSP
athletes Safe Zone-trained. Safe Zone is a special program that the GSA puts on
to train people on how to be allies, or straight people who support the LGBTQ
community. For example, the workshops teach the correct terminology to avoid
“Words like gay and f-bomb get thrown around a lot in
the locker room,” King said. “It is part of the culture, but I think that
learning to change that and not putting up with that type of behavior is one of
the best steps that could be put towards changing it.”
“If you want to talk to someone privately, or if you’d
just like to get some help or have questions, we’ll be free to answer,” King
said. “No one is going to ask if you are gay or straight or anything like that.
It is a very welcoming environment.”