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12 reasons you're willfully ignorant to still assume male athletes are homophobic

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The continued false narrative that male athletes are homophobic is keeping athletes in the closet. The media and others need to open their eyes and move on. The athletes have, whether you want to believe it or not.

Hunter Fromang found love from his Randolph-Macon teammates after coming out.
Hunter Fromang found love from his Randolph-Macon teammates after coming out.

1) Minor League Baseball player David Denson came out as gay to his teammates with the Milwaukee Brewers' Helena, Mont., affiliate earlier this summer. He'd been struggling to get a foothold in the Brewers' system with subpar performances - he has hardly been a superstar.

"Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them," Denson said. "They said, 'You're still our teammate. You're still our brother."

That was in Montana.

2) Keegan Hirst came out publicly over the weekend, becoming the second rugby league player in the UK to be publicly out as gay while still playing.

"The support from my team-mates and other rugby league players has really surprised me, it's all been positive," Hirst told The Mirror. "These are tough blokes. We go out on the field together and it's 26 blokes knocking seven shades out of each other. But on the other side of it, you go through blood, sweat and tears together - and they've been there for me when I needed them most."

That was in rugby.

3) Michael Sam came out to his Missouri football team about two years ago this week. A big, tough SEC defensive end, Sam surprised his teammates with the revelation during a defensive team meeting.

"Just to see their reaction was awesome," Sam told ESPN six months later. "They supported me from day one. I couldn't have better teammates. ... I'm telling you what: I wouldn't have the strength to do this today if I didn't know how much support they'd given me this past semester."

That was in Missouri.

4) Dakota Wesleyan Univ. basketball player Jesse Taylor, a devout Christian, came out to family and friends from his rural town of 750 people, then came out to his teammates and coach at the school affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

"There were no issues," Taylor wrote for Outsports. "We still workout together and go to the gym to get shots up like we did before. How they treat me has not changed. What has changed is my feeling of comfort around them. I am no longer walking on eggshells and pretending."

That was in South Dakota.

5) Conner Mertens is a kicker for the Willamette Univ. football team. When he came out to his teammates about 18 months ago, he had never played a down for the team.

"It was unwavering support," head football coach Glen Fowles said. "They were supportive because he's one of their teammates. It was impressive. After that meeting I congratulated the coaches for recruiting good men. We've got something special here. I was so proud of those guys. If that's the future of young men in America, we've got a shot. It was awesome."

That was in college football.

6) When tennis player Matt Dooley came out to his Notre Dame team, he had survived a suicide attempt.

"Every single member of the team and coaching staff was extremely supportive," Dooley wrote, "many echoing gratitude for my honesty and, in a way, bringing the team closer together. That day reaffirmed my strong belief that we, the athletes of Notre Dame, are truly a brotherhood."

That was at a Catholic school.

7) When Jason Collins was signed by the Brooklyn Nets in early 2014, he was thrown into an environment where he had heard some of his new teammates say anti-gay things in the past.

"He is a guy that is going to be able to open up the door for athletes around the world," said likely future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce. "It doesn't matter your race, gender or sexuality because it's about being part of a team and caring for one another."

That was in professional basketball.

8) Erskine College volleyball teammates Drew Davis and Juan Varona came out publicly together in early 2014 at the deeply religious Div. II college.

"At first I didn't know how they were going to take it because I'm not from this country," Varona said. "But everybody has been great. I've even had baseball players come up to me and say they were homophobic until they met me. I guess they look at my personality more than whether I'm gay or not."

That was in a town of 1,200 people in rural South Carolina.

9) When Oklahoma Sooners track athlete Tanner Williams married his husband a year ago, he was scared of the reaction he would receive from his teammates.

"I even received hugs from some of the guys on my team, including from one who I thought might bully me," Williams said. "All of my coaches were incredibly happy for me and so were all of my teammates."

That was in Oklahoma.

10) Cole Fox is a deeply religious wrestler and a two-time state qualifier for Don Bosco High School in Iowa. He came out to his teammates and coach before graduating.

"It's small-town values," head wrestling coach Tom Hogan said. "We look after our own. Cole is one of us."

That was at a Catholic High School in Iowa.

11) Hunter Fromang was a backup center for the Randolph-Macon Univ. basketball team when he told his team he's gay.

"These guys have accepted me for everything I am," Fromang said. "They have not just tolerated me, they have accepted me. When I look back I guess I shouldn't be surprise. We are all, at the end of the day, Yellow Jackets."

That was in Virginia.

12) Ryan Beene recently shared his true self with his Texas Lutheran Univ. tennis team.

"Every one of the guys was great about it," Beene said. "It just wasn't a big deal at all. To this day, they don't treat me differently from how they treat each other. I especially love that they joke with me about being gay. They're cool."

That's at a religious school in Texas.

Can we move on now?