Travon Free in 2007 - Reuben Canales/Getty Images
Travon Free is a writer for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," but was a college basketball player at Long Beach State from 2003-2007 and helped the 49ers to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Two years ago, he came out as bisexual on his blog.
In an interview with Think Progress, Free says he considered coming out while playing:
"I thought about it a couple times. It's funny. You go through a couple moments where you gauge the temperature of your peers to see how they might handle it, and for the most part, I don't think it would have been a problem. My team didn't seem very homophobic. It was funny because I used to tell people, my teammates loved to do really gay things, just do really silly shit. I think it's kind of like that on sports teams in general: guys love to play around by pretending or doing things that are typically deemed gay, because the joke is, ‘I'm not really gay, I'm just doing this because it's funny.' Just hearing the occasional serious conversation or pseudo-serious conversation where guys would say, ‘I don't really care' or ‘it's not a big deal,' or they'd say they didn't have an opinion, and I think you know what that means. The closer I got to graduating, the more comfortable I became with it, to where I stopped going out of my way to hide it. It was like, if someone found out, I wouldn't care."
Free never took the plunge, but he talks about having conversations with teammates about gay issues and finding support. He stressed the value of straight allies in the fight for gay acceptance in sports and said that the stars must become more vocal.
If a guy like LeBron James (came out in support of equality), I think that would have a huge impact, just having a huge NBA player join that list of people who are saying we need to do this and support this. I think it really could shift the way the narrative is among athletes, killing that whole culture of pro athletes being homophobic monsters, because I don't think they all are, but they get stuck with that rap.