Among the many rationalizations we hear as to why athletes don't (or shouldn't) come out is the idea that opposing fans will heckle them or call them gay slurs. One of my favorite responses to that was when I asked Kye Allums if he was concerned about that before coming out as transgender. "They already call me a man," he said. He was just confirming it.
Now comes word that one of the most iconic fans in pro sports -- the New York Jets' fireman Ed -- can't take the harassment of a small minority of fans...from his favorite team...in their stadium. It's not because he's gay. It's because he wears the jersey of a player on the Jets that some don't like. He writes in Metro:
This is an indication of how society has lost and is continuing to lose respect for one another. The stadium has become divided because of the quarterback controversy as well. The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year and that fans think I am on the payroll — which is an outright lie — have made these confrontations more frequent. Whether it’s in the stands, the bathroom or the parking lot, these confrontations are happening on a consistent basis.
Fans can be raging assholes. You could take Ed's experience as proof-positive that a gay player would get harassed. That would be a mis-translation. The moral of the story: They don't care if you're gay; They're going to give you shit no matter whom you sleep with, so you might as well be who you are. They care if you're playing well or not. They'll trade a gay quarterback who can complete more than 50% of his passes over a straight Mark Sanchez any day. Just ask the obnoxious green fan in the fireman's hat.
PHOTO: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Hat tip to Amy K. Nelson.