The City of San Francisco on Tuesday announced their official support for The Last Closet campaign, which aims to help end homophobia in men's pro sports. Specifically, the city is requesting that the commissioners of the five major sports leagues sit down for interviews with the online video campaign and publicly voice their support for gay athletes in their leagues. The announcement came at City Hall and was attended by incredibly gay-friendly former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, who planted a kiss on former NFL player Dave Kopay (in photo below). Kopay spoke at the press conference, as did Helen Carroll, Fawn Yacker and I.
Resolved, That the Board of Supervisors and the City and County of San Francisco respectfully request that you, the Commissioners of Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey and Soccer, use the authority of your office to sanction players who have engaged in specific incidents of slurs and intolerance toward homophobia; be it
Further resolved, That we request that you state, in a public interview, that you support your LGBT players, that you invite them to come out and, once they are out, that you pledge to make them feel safe and accepted.
My brief remarks summed up how I feel about this effort on two levels. It was inspiring to see a city that had just won a world CHAMPIONSHIP be on the forefront of being a CHAMPION for the LGBT community. While teams win championships, being labeled a champion can only be earned by championing other people, and the City of San Francisco understands that.
The other piece is what the silence of these commissioners means. Certainly the leagues have taken actions in recent years. There has been the occasional fine or a discussion of gay issues in rookie symposiums. But the commissioners have not, as The Last Closet has requested, publicly said, on camera, they will support an athlete who comes out in their league. In fact, they have refused to answer the question. Their silence says they're OK with the way it's been for decades: Gay athletes feeling the need to stay in the closet. If they truly wanted it to be different, they would say so. But they don't. And until they do say so, we can assume they are very comfortable with gay athletes feeling the need to stay closeted.
One last note about the day. It was really fantastic to meet Sean Chapin, a San Francisco activist who has helped push the Bay Area sports scene to embrace LGBT athletes. He was a major force behind the Giants' It Gets Better video. He's got a heart of pure gold and he is passionate about changing the face of sports. We're very lucky to have him in this movement, and I look forward to seeing how he continues to contribute going forward.
If you're interested in pushing your city to pass a similar resolution, contact The Last Closet.