I have complained to people in the “mainstream” sports media for years that their questions about gay athletes — particularly professional athletes in the big sports leagues of North America — center around the same-old question about why there aren’t more out pro athletes.
My issue with the question is that we all already know the answer: fear. The fear could come from the unknown reaction of fans, teammates, sponsors, coaches, family or a bunch of other places.
Knowing what we know — that there are precious few out gay pro male athletes — we know this question is negative in nature and leads to negative answers that don’t accurately reflect the acceptance of gay athletes we have seen across sports, cities, states and levels in the last few years.
Sportswriters wishing to portray an honest perspective of what it is like for gay male athletes to come out in sports should focus on asking out athletes a very different question: What was the reaction from coaches and other athletes when you came out to them?
If they asked that question, wrote about that question and made that the centerpiece of the coming-out experience for gay-male athletes, they would create a positive dynamic that centered around acceptance, love and inclusion.
Instead, the sports media is addicted to the idea that athletes are afraid. While some live in situations that are truly daunting, gay athletes don’t necessarily have to be afraid. There are powerful support structures for them.
As more and more gay athletes come out to their friends, family, coaches, teammates and the public, we continue to get a glimpse into a sports world that accepts them.
For more stories on LGBT people in sports coming out and finding acceptance, visit Outsports’ entire section on coming-out stories.