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Gay Porn Story: No Big Deal

Pitcher Pulls a Piazza and Declares He's Not Gay

(This story was published in 2003).

The media are in a lather because Cleveland Indians minor league pitcher Kazuhito Tadano has apologized for making a gay porn flick in his native Japan, but the story is a big yawn to us.

A contrite Tadano, who doesn’t speak English, issued an apology Tuesday for his role in the film, made in 2002 while he was a university student. ''I did participate in a video and I regret it very much,'' he said. ''It was a one-time incident that showed bad judgment and will never be repeated. I was young, playing baseball, and going to college and my teammates and I needed money. Frankly, if I were more mature and had really thought about the implications of what I did, it never would have happened.''

Tadano then pulled a Mike Piazza and assured the sports world that he is of the correct sexual orientation. ''I'm not gay. I'd like to clear that fact up right now,'' the 23-year-old pitcher said.

News of the video first surfaced last year when Tadano, consider a potential major talent, join the Indians’ farm club after his porn role made him persona non grata in the Japanese league. He issued a statement to get the issue behind him prior to the start of spring training.

This is the kind of story the media and fans love, dealing with taboo subjects like porn and homosexuality. Outsports received interview requests from a newspaper in Toronto and radio station in Denver. Newspapers, radio and TV stations across the U.S. ran the item.

This story, however, is much ado about nothing. It is not historic and will not further the fight to make sports free from homophobia. Tadano is not our Gay Jackie Robin-san. The fact that Tadano went out of his way to declare his heterosexuality simply reinforced the perception that being gay in sports is the equivalent of a death sentence. His declaration, though, didn’t stop a sportswriter friend from commenting, ''I guess since Kazuhito Tadano was in a gay-porn film and he says he isn't gay, he must just be a fantastic actor. Maybe he'll win an Academy Award.''

It’s cool that Tadano’s teammates and the Indians’ organization have been supportive of him. Grady Sizemore, a teammate with Tadano with the Indians’ Akron farm club, praised him for the way he told the team last season. ''You could tell he was nervous,'' said Sizemore. ''But I don't think it changed anybody's opinion of him. After it was said and done, nobody thought anything more of it. He's a great guy and a great pitcher.''

We’ll never know the reaction, however, had Tadano apologized for making the film but confirmed that he was gay. Or simply never mentioned his orientation. Would he still have been accepted by the team? Would he still be vying for a job with the Indians? How would the media and fans react? The jury of those questions is still out. The Tadano Affair is more of a sideshow than the main event in the history of gays in sports.