One of the problems with social media is the complete lack of gatekeeper. Take the latest "Gay athlete is coming out this week" rumor started by a small-time Tweeter and propagated by Queerty. The Tweeter, whom I won't promote here with a link, claimed the Montreal Canadien locker room is abuzz because one of their players is planning on coming out this week. The Tweeter said "it is unconfirmed, but speculation is that it may be @jgorges26" -- That's the Twitter handle for Josh Gorges.
The reports caught the ire of You Can Play's Patrick Burke...
Hey @queerty . Josh Gorges just got engaged, to a woman. Maybe next time don't write a story based off a random twitter account, assholes.— Patrick Burke (@BurkieYCP) March 5, 2013
Gorges is not gay. He is not coming out. In fact, he's engaged to marry his girlfriend -- Imagine their surprise when they heard he is gay and coming out of the closet! To our knowledge -- and we've make some inquiries -- there is no Montreal Canadien planning to come out of the closet any time soon. And even if he were, we'd encourage him to stay in the closet until the season is over.
The biggest problem with these baseless rumors is the position it puts straight athletes in. When somebody like Manti Te'o does something that creates questions, I think it's fine to ask said question. But to just toss a name out there with no basis for questions isn't helpful.
As we saw with Mike Piazza a dozen years ago, it puts the athlete in an impossible position: If he denies it, he's attacked for being anti-gay; If he doesn't deny it, then there's a lie out there about him (and I don't know about you, but I don't want anyone thinking I'm straight!).