With North Carolina having passed perhaps the most anti-LGBT piece of legislation in the country, I wanted to hear from a gay North Carolinian about his feelings and whether sports leagues should boycott the state.
Mike (not his real name) is a high school football player in small town near Charlotte. He is a star on his team and good enough to be considered by big-name schools. I have known him since the fall and have spoken to him several times as he goes through his coming out process.
His opinion is firm on the NBA moving next year's All-Star Game and the NCAA moving basketball tournament games in 2017 and 2018.
"I am a gay teen athlete and I feel like a second-class citizen now with this new law in place here," Mike said. "And I strongly feel that the NBA should pull out on the All-Star Game here in Charlotte. Because it would send a huge message that we in the LGBT community should be treated as equals as first-class citizens.
"And the big one that also bothers me is the NCAA, because they say they support gay athletes, yet they're doing nothing about their major role they could also have in this. In a few years when I`m playing in college, I would like the organization I play for to do anything for me and my rights and make sure I don't have to worry about my life off the field and can just play the sport I love."
I agree with everything Mike said and have been impressed by his growth since we first connected. When I first met him he was totally closeted but has slowly come out to some people, though he is leery about who he tells given the nature of where he lives.
"I have gone through so much being gay," he said. "I can't even really date a guy publicly because the last time I went on a date people were staring and saying stuff behind or backs then also to our faces.
"Also, I have experienced homophobic behavior on the football field and locker room. The worst was when our coach would change the name of our opponent's mascot into something that included a gay slur and then half the team looked at me."
Mike blames religion and people misrepresenting the Bible for a lot of the anti-gay sentiments he hears. His mom, for example, said "Jesus doesn't like your kind." Against that backdrop, I don't blame him for being careful about coming out, and this new law adds a legality that gives license to discriminate.