Time for an openly gay pro athelete?

I’m a pretty big sports fan, recently I’ve read about all the hubub about a gay magazine editor saying that he’s dating/having an affair with a major league baseball player that is known and plays for a east coast franchise.

Here is an article with links to other articles from espn.com:


The article says that 61% would have no problem at all with a gay teammate. I personally think that percentage would need to be higher for the player to “come out.”

Billy Beane played in the majors for a couple of years, but didn’t come out until after he had retired. He said that it would be “career suicide” for a player to come out.

My personal thoughts are, I don’t have a problem with it. I might feel kind of funny showering with the guy, but I wouldn’t care what he did when he left the ball park.

I don’t think we could expect anything more than a mixed reaction, but I would expect there to be more positive than negative. I imagine there would be other cities that he be more likely to not be received well in.

I’m interested to see what the SDMB (especially the gay posters) thinks about this whole situation, should the player come out?

Shaq came out the other day, just didn’t get much press. :smiley:

Seriously though, I think he should go for it. Only if they all come out and say “DEAL WITH IT!” are people actually going to start to deal with it. Things don’t change by leaving them as they are.

— G. Raven

These people are reprehensible. They are an offense against humanity and deserve to be discriminated against in the severest possible manner. I mean really, there is no way I’m going to allow a professional baseball player to live in MY neighborhood.

Chas, you’re just not open-minded enough. Sure, they smell funny, look funny, and dress and act differently than normal people do… but baseball players are people, too!


On a more serious note (me? Serious? Never!) I long for the day when being gay will be regarded as casually as if someone said they liked broccoli or disliked steak. Ideally, this whole hubbub about “who’s gay and who isn’t?” would be about as exciting as “who wears boxers and who wears briefs?”

OK, I’d like to get this out of the way immediately. Chas E. is the man. I mean that both in a “YOU DA MAN!” sort of way, and that he totally reminds me of the white man.

But anyhoo. Most of what I think is pretty textbook. I consider homophobia to be a social disease, and there to be little more to it. I’ll make two notes though that perhaps might be unique:

1: I tend to equate gay rights as being the last(?) area of civil rights violations that we need to acknowledge as a problem. We’ve acknowledge that we screwed black, women, and now it should be gays. That said, one could probably immediately guestimate how the first gay player would do by looking at the experiences of the first black ballplayer in an all-white league. A no brainer, I know.

2: Baseball would be a TOUGH one, based on my limited knowledge. A pretty massive amount of ballplayers of of course hispanic, and there would be an enormous population of catholics going on there. I would tend to think that a gay gentleman would have an easier time perhaps tennis, basketball, soccer, or even hockey. Hockey is, actually, a tough one. I don’t know what the folks are like in hockey, but my understanding is that the couple of black guys in the NHL have some horror stories to tell.

That brings up a new question. If there is going to be an openly gay athlete, what sport will it probably be in? I suppose tennis or golf, but how about team sports?

  • Rog

Oh, I’m sorry. I went off on a little tangeant and forgot the other thing I was going to say.

If my brother was a gay baseball player pulling in millions of dollars a year and he was considering coming out, I would most certainly advise him not to. Being the first to come out would make his life absolutely miserable, no question. I just saw a Ken Griffey Junior interview on ESPN where he said that he received 300 death threats for declining a trade to Detroit. For DECLINING A TRADE TO DETROIT.

My gay brother (that’s right, Lowell) would be subject to to having to think “I’ve gotten 300 death threats. At least a few of them have to be real.”

Should anyone do that? Why would they bother? What do they get out of it? Who cares if the world knows who he’s having sex with, if it’s going to cost him his security.

Thanks for reading my little rebound.

  • Rog

Ian Roberts is a recently retired openly gay rugby league player from Australia. You can read about him here. He was an absolutely top-class player (and very good looking to boot). Being from Melbourne I don’t know much about league, but perhaps one of our Sydney-based Dopers will tell you more (it’s the most popular professional sport there).

Rugby is more popular in Australia than Australian-rules football?

(Hell, we Yanks can’t even tell the difference between the two sports!)

Well, there ARE openly gay athletes in tennis, so that’s done.

My guess would be that no major North American team sport would be particularly welcoming to a gay athlete.

If we’ve already screwed black men and black women, does that not indicate that (at some level) we are already screwing gays?

We laud Jackie Robinson for what he did about the black-white color barrier. We laud Roberto Clemente for his stellar representaion of Latin players and his subsequent induction into the Hall of Fame. Just recently, Asian (primarily Japanese) players have begun to make their mark on the American major leagues after years of exclusion despite their glorius history of pro baseball in Japan and Taiwan.
Now, all of them had to endure significant resistance and overcome huge obstacles in order to accomplish what they do/did. Women are still not allowed in most ‘men’s’ leagues not because there may be one or two who is actually good enough, but because they are women.
Now, the question is not of a gay player in the major leagues, but an OPENLY gay player. Obviously, this is being met with significant resistance (more acceptance though, it seems (61%). I read that article too Dignan.)
I would make a prediction that it will happen, but not without the ugly face of homophobia making a valiant effort to hold onto its death grip in major sports markets in the US.

Yeah, hi guys… anyone ever heard of figure skating? Rudy Galindo? A lot of people don’t think of it as a sport but it very definitely is.
What about Greg Louganis, the diver?

Shame, shame.


Martina Navratilova did it back in the 80’s and Billy Jean King got outed as bisexual in the 70’s. Women have been on the forefront here. As much as I think that he should come out, I feel it would be hard in baseball, or any other major men’s league.
Coming out is a growing experience and everyone should have right to choose their own time to do it. There comes a point where you realize YOU can’t live with the secrecy and decide the lies are worse than what will happen when you do come out.

Well, I’ll tell ya. There was a bruhaha here in Chicago last year when some reporter supposedly had a ‘scoop’ that Mark Grace (Cubs) was gay. It spawned days and days of newspaper and talk radio discussion and I was, quite literaly SHOCKED at the response.

There were people actually saying that they would NOT ROOT FOR THE CUBS anymore if they had a gay first baseman. Talk radio HOSTS were supporting this viewpoint! I couldn’t believe it.

Mark eventually cleared the air, telling us all he was not gay, he was happily in love with a woman who was having his baby and…

he was leaving the Cubs to play for arizona that god damn traitor.

So I think if a gay athlete came out, it would spell disaster. There are already countless rumors about Ricky Williams of the Saints and Kordell Stewart of the Steelers…it’s like we’re begging people to come out of the closet so we can beat the crap out of them when they do.


The NFL announcers would have to change their schtick if any footballers came out. No more descriptions such as “Favre really got drilled on that play” or “look how Aldridge nails Moss on the 30 yard line” or “nice job of the offensive line plowing the Bears’ defense.”

My favorite was last year when John Madden said,

“I’ll tell you what! Sapp was not touched on the sack!”


It’s got to be A-Rod. With a name like that…

It’s interesting that thsi 61% figure gets bandied around, be4cause 61% is INCREDIBLY LOW.

Look at it this way; there are 25 guys on a major league baseball team at any one time. If Gay G. Guy is enlisted to play for San Francisco (ha!) then we would expect that about nine of his teammates would feel he did not belong on the team. NINE. Doesn’t that strike you as being a lot of people on the tewam to oppose Guy’s even being there?

When Larry Doby because the first black player to play in the American League (for the Indians) only three players on the team refused to shake his hand. Not one of those men ever played another game in an Indians uniform; the GM of the Indians, Bill Veeck, got rid of those players immediately. When Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers, only a few Dodgers expressed reservations. All were immediately disposed of by Branch Rickey (GM and president of the Dodgers), including Dixie Walker, a star player, although Walker did play the entire 1947 season in Brooklyn and was then traded when he expressed his displeasure at playing with a black man.

While I am sure the Dodgers hurt bad to let Walker do, the decision by Bill Veeck and Branch Rickey to just eliminate every player opposed to coloured players was obviously the only feasible decision. “You don’t like it? Get the fuck out.” No muss, no fuss. The teams those two players joined were immensely improved as a result, not just because Robinson and Doby were magnificent players but the teams (at least according to those who were on them) tended to be bound together by the pressure the black players were put under. They rallied around Robinson and Doby.

Does anything think, though, that a GM today would have the guts to trade nine - or more - players off the team because Smith announces he’s gay? I don’t. Granting that Rickey and Veeck were men of tremendous moral courage, I just can’t see anyone today saying “Ya know, these guys don’t want Smith around because he’s gay, so they’re outta here. Take a hike!”

People also don’t take into account that it’s much easier to say that one doesn’t mind having gay guys on one’s team to some guy taking a survey than it is to actually be brave enough to go against what is perceived to be the majority view and be welcoming when confronted with a real-life situation. I think that even if 61% say that they would have no problem with it, the number who would actually welcome a gay person is probably lower.
I also think that anybody who backhandedly tries to expose the secrets (whatever they may be) of somebody that they supposedly love is slime. Obviously the ballplayer is uncomfortable telling people about his homosexuality, and the editor ought to respect his decision.

Rickjay. . .good post. I’d have to agree. I routinely tell the fucknuts I work with to stop referring to homosexuals as ‘faggots’ because I find the word ofensive. Two of my co-workers are black, which still somehow amazes me. Anyhow, and unfortunately, the last bastion of open, acceptable discrimination is homephobia. When hypocrites like Dr Laura Schlesinger are allowed to voice there anti-gay rhetoric and not suffer the typical backlash that accompanies any similar racist bigot, we all know that a ball player might be subject to the same crap.
Damn, if I could just be GOD for a day!