Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coming Out In Sports, TV Journalism, and Fighting Homophobia: Rick Welts, Don Lemon and Ben Cohen's Triple Play!

Three really cool things happened in the last week:

The first is that Pheonix Suns (a team in the National Basketball Association) president Rick Welts came out as a gay man,

Mr. Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic.

“...This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” said Mr. Welts, who stands now as a true rarity, a man prominently employed in professional men’s team sports, willing to declare his homosexuality. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”

But Rick is talking now, and he's being backed up by big names in the NBA. Read more here, and you can also watch this video interview:

The second really cool thing to happen was that Don Lemon, a CNN news anchor, also came out as a gay man. This is remarkable not just for the scarcity of openly gay news pundits, but for Don's being African American and willing to stand up and out - that's breaking double ground.

In the article about his new book, Transparent," and his coming out in the New York Times, Don is quoted:

“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.”

I think the line that got me the most was when Don said:

“I think if I had seen more people like me who are out and proud, it wouldn’t have taken me 45 years to say it,” Mr. Lemon said, “to walk in the truth.”

And the third cool thing to happen is that straight ally and English Rugby star Ben Cohen has retired from playing professionally to start a foundation aimed at ending homophobia in sports.

This week Cohen, who won 57 caps and scored 31 tries for his country, sets out on a tour of the US on behalf of a new foundation set up in his name, devoted to fighting homophobia in sport.

Although not gay himself, Cohen has become a gay icon in recent years and has decided to use his high profile to support gay and lesbian sportspeople struggling to come to terms with their sexuality in an unforgiving environment.

Some great things are happening, and I wanted to share them with you!



1 comment:

fuzzbuzz said...

Yes, the world is indeed changing.

As more prominent men and women in the sports world come out, it only hightens just how queer our world is. And that is a good thing.