Denver Stiffs blogger Jeffrey Morton used National Coming Out Day last week to tell his readers and fans that he's gay. He talked at length about coming out to his mother, which didn't go over as well as he'd have liked. He also talked at length about stereotypes and their power over his life -- Something I know many Outsports readers struggle with.
I can tell you from my own life experience that defying the gay stereotype comes with its own price. If you know me, you will understand that upon first glance there's nothing about me that screams "gay". Just the opposite in fact. I am horribly color blind so my sense of dress is quite off kilter. I don't have a pronounced feminine lilt to my voice. I am a huge NBA fan and I tend to like rock music. On the other side I love dancing, decorating a room with the correct flow, art, and I have a weird fascination with Judy Garland (shut up). I'm right smack dab in the middle of stereotypes. I suspect that gay NBA players struggle with the same thing. Wanting to reach out to both sides of themselves without compromising the other.
Morton dove further into the struggle of gay players in the NBA:
I believe with all my heart that there are gay NBA players in the league, as there was in the past (like former Orlando Magic center John Amaechi, pictured at the top of this story). I also believe that those who write well-intentioned articles on gay acceptance in professional sports miss the point, just a bit. Yes, there is fear that you won't be accepted by your peers and suffer from humiliation. However, I would argue that acceptance of one's self is just as big a factor in making the decision to come out in the sports world. Finding your place in this world and being stuck between stereotypes is just as bad. It's like being stuck in limbo with two "Exit Only" signs. You can't move.
The reaction has been positive. Most of the comments on the story were supportive or neutral, though it did create a strange conversation about Rajon Rondo being a cross-dresser. Still, Morton's description of his public coming out was "amazing"...
Congratulations, Jeff! It's a big step for you and for all of the closeted people in sports who see another voice bring light to the conversation.