clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Moment #62: CBC airs "The Last Closet"

Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.

Media, 1993: "The Last Closet," the CBC Radio's hourlong special on gays in sports was groundbreaking, exploring a subject that was little talked about in the media. They took the title from something I said in the interview about sports being the last closet in society.

What was most memorable were the interviews with two prominent Canadian athletes who were gay and closeted; their voices were distorted. In the days before the Internet, this special got almost no attention once it aired. Had the same show aired today, people would analyze the voices and the athletes' comments to start a guessing game.

One of the athletes turned out to be Olympic boxer Mark Leduc, who died in 2009. Also among those interviewed were former football player Ed Gallagher and super agent Leigh Steinberg. I was on since I was the sports editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram in Southern California and openly gay.

A lot of the fear the show explored about athletes coming out is still present today, but other attitudes are thankfully outdated. The show interviewed a Dodgers pitcher who said he could not believe there could be a gay major leaguer; this was four years after Billy Bean played for the Dodgers.

Note: This item is rewritten to correct inaccuracies in the original (thanks to Joe Clark for pointing them out). I had incorrectly stated that the two athletes with distorted voices were NHL players. I had not heard the show for 18 years, and after Clark's comments I dug through my closet, found the tape and listened.