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This is why I’ve stopped ‘waiting’ for gay men to come out in pro sports

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Gay pro athletes will come out when they want to. For whatever reason they aren’t right now.

While Michael Sam made a practice squad, the NFL still has never had an openly gay athlete on one of its 32 team’s regular-season roster.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

For whatever reason, professional athletes in men’s big-time pro sports simply aren’t coming out.

We can point to religion, family, teammates, fans, coaches, the media and many other issues as the reason. Each person’s reasons are different, and right now they simply aren’t coming out.

People keep wondering why, waiting for the next guy to make a big announcement.

Years ago I felt like I was waiting for that day I’d wake up to news of another out gay athlete. Now it never crosses my mind. Gay male pro athletes aren’t coming out. They simply aren’t. “Waiting” for them to do so doesn’t hasten the process. It would certainly be great if someone did tomorrow, but I just don’t think about it anymore.

At the same time, athletes in high school and college are coming out across the country and in every sport. They are coming out publicly and privately to their teammates. They are changing the face of sports.

The worst thing we could possibly do is make an athlete feel like he was forced to come out before he wanted to. The first questions I always have for athletes interested in coming out is about support structure and desire. It’s not enough to “wait” for a gay athlete to come out, it’s important that they have a support structure around them.

Until that happens for an individual athlete, I will focus on supporting those who want to come out, instead of wondering or waiting where the next one will come from.