Another NFL season is upon us and, no big shocker, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is again dealing with baseless speculation that he’s gay. It’s something the newest Cleveland Browns superstar has been hearing for years.
It’s time to put it to rest.
The nonsense all stems from a 2015 incident in which Carolina Panthers players, under coach Ron Rivera’s watch, all but certainly used gay slurs to harass Beckham during a game. Shortly after the game everyone — Beckham, the Giants, the Panthers and the NFL — quickly shut up and moved on.
Yet we did not. The fans have continued wondering what that was all about, putting our own prejudices and biases into the conversation about this man’s sexuality.
To be clear, there are no rumors that Beckham is gay, only speculation based on utter nonsense. And the only reasons anyone every speculates about OBJ’s sexual orientation is because he refuses to march to the beat of everyone else’s drummer.
He bleaches his hair. Gay!
He takes an Instagram selfie in his underwear. Gay!
He gets a tattoo on his butt. Gay! Gay! Gay!
Except for some pretty egregious (yet understandable) behavior during that 2015 Panthers game, Beckham has been a gentleman throughout, refusing to change his behavior for anyone.
“Honestly wasn’t offended,” Beckham recently told GQ. “I’ve never once had no problem with anybody who has their own personal life that they live. I have friends who are gay. It was almost more funny to me.”
I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to wonder if someone is gay. It’s not bad to be gay, so speculating about someone being gay can be, frankly, a compliment. Over our 20 years of running Outsports the vast majority of speculation I’ve heard about athletes is wishful thinking by gay men hoping, praying, they have a shot with their crush.
With OBJ it’s been something different. It’s been founded in the mean-spirited viciousness of avowed jackass Josh Norman and his Panthers teammates. Gossip sites and OBJ detractors have piled on with bad intentions.
This isn’t “he’s so dreamy” wishful thinking.
This is “F’ that fa**ot” vitriol.
In answering claims again this week that he’s gay, Beckham said enough is enough. And we agree. This will be our last report on the nonsense about Beckham’s sexual orientation for a good long while and, hopefully, forever. Whether it’s Beckham himself, closeted athletes in the NFL, or just a kid trying to find his way... The circular speculation does no one any good.