Rick Welts gave an interview to LZ Granderson at a forum for the 2011 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in which he talked about coming out at work. When asked about what made Welts think he couldn't come out of the closet in the NBA for so many years, he reiterated what we've been saying at Outsports for 10 years:
I put it on me. I don't really think there were ever any incidents outwardly that I can remember where I felt particularly offended by something that had happened or something that someone had said. I had just made the decision...that I just didn't know what would happen. That was really my problem. No one in a position like mine had ever taken this step. I couldn't watch anybody go through it and say, 'You know, that can work out okay.' So maybe I'm just not going to risk it.
And I had great family, great friends that were supportive. But I just put a barrier around that part of my life in my work environment.... "
With every person in sports like Welts who comes out, the fear of the unknown shrinks. With all of the coming-out stories in sports we've heard since 2000, not a single one in male sports has been negative. Last year was a bellwether year, with so many people coming out across the spectrum of sports...and all of them being met with open arms.
Some of those open arms were from Welts' new team, the Golden State Warriors:
The next day I got a call from the new owners of the Golden State Warriors, who just paid the highest price ever paid for an NBA team. It was so great. They knew my story before we sat down. And we spoke for probably six hours the first time we got together, and it wasn't until about four hours into the conversation there was one question: 'Hey, how did that ownership in Phoenix react to that announcement of yours.'
As we all know, Welts got the job.