I recently saw a story on CNN about Kwame Harris. Apparently, he was outed earlier this year because of a fight he had with his then partner outside a restaurant. In the story he explains why he never came out during his career. It was painful to watch.
Kwame said he loved football and "the cost was great in asking me to not speak candidly or be able to be open about myself in this complete manor". He was distressed about being gay his entire career. "You wanna escape this turmoil and despair". "Maybe your mind goes to dark places".
I can't fathom how much pressure he must have felt feeling like the ball could drop, no pun intended, on him at any time. That one day, out a nowhere, your entire team might turn against you. And why? Because they found out you're gay.
So, being gay means he won't be able to play his position on the field? Oh, I know, it makes him less able to catch a ball? Oh oh wait, it makes them less able to make a touchdown right? Now, since Kwame Harris' position was offensive tackle, I guess that means he can't block another player because he's gay? I'm really trying to understand what difference it makes.
I admit that there are a lot of things at my job that make me miserable, but I can't imagine what it must feel like to be in his situation. While I work in a team environment, we are still independent in our ability to do our job. Whether or not someone else likes or doesn't like me, doesn't directly affect my being able to do my job successfully.
But in sports, your success is directly related to the team. How can you be successful on a "team" where nobody wants to work with you? How can you do your best work with this feeling of doom hanging over your head? In football, how can you make a touchdown if your teammates are willing to leave you vulnerable to the other team?
This guy played football in high school. He was among the top prep offensive lineman in the country! He played foot ball in college where he earned all-conference honors twice, and named honorable mention All-American in his last year at Stanford. Then he went on to be a first round draft pick in the 2003 draft. He's gotta be able to play a little, right? According to him, he was gay the whole time, so apparently it doesn't make a difference in his abilities.
If being gay meant he wasn't any good, he wouldn't have been any good to begin with. After he's on the team, and obviously good enough to remain on the team, how does finding out he's gay, all of a sudden make him not good enough anymore? I mean, damn, you're playing a game with him, not sleeping with him.
Why are sports teams so bothered by having gay teammates? Do you think they're watching you in the shower? Do you think they purposely try to get close to you when you practice? Do you think they are secretly in love with you and will try to hold your hand on the field during a game? Stop being ridiculous and get over yourself! Gay football players are there to play the game just like the heterosexual players are. Plus, you're probably not that fantastic and they wouldn't want you anyway!
Why can't you mind your own business! Relax and play the game! Don't waste your energy on who the people on your team want or don’t want to have sex with. A fellow NFL player Chris Culliver said, "They don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up outta here if they do." Maybe instead of being bothered by it, use it to your advantage. Tell everybody that your entire offensive line is gay. That way, if the guys on the other team are as small minded and ignorant as some of these people are, these dudes could make touchdowns all day because the other teams defense won't want to touch them! It's just an idea.
Here's a link to the CNN interview if you'd like to watch it.
In the interview on CNN Kwame was asked if he had ever considered coming out while he was playing. He said he didn't see "those two things as being compatible". He also said he wished he would have found the "fortitude" or the "grace" to come out while he was playing. The video mentions an organization called “The Last Closet”.
The goal of the last closet is to encourage the end of homophobia in male sports. I was happy to see that another NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo said in reference to a gay person being on his team “we’re gonna support him and we’re gonna treat him just like we treat everybody else…. with love, fairness and compassion…”. I can't prove it, but I'm certain there are other gay players in the NFL. And, in the NBA too, I bet!
Let's all try not to make them or anybody else miserable about their sexuality. Even just a little less miserable would be a step in the right direction. C'mon team, who's with me?!!
The Working Poor
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