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Celebrating LGBTQ sports history: Troy Aikman says being gay ‘is not my lifestyle’

Every day in October we’re looking back at the athletes, coaches and events that made LGBTQ sports history.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Oklahoma at UCLA
Former UCLA Bruin quarterback Troy Aikman gives former coach Terry Donahue a hug during a college football game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the UCLA Bruins on September 14, 2019, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every day this month, we’re looking back at our pioneers, the mark they left on our community and on the sports world, plus landmark events and stories that show Courage Is Contagious. Today, our most-read story from 2015: Troy Aikman said that being gay is “a lifestyle people choose.” By his own words, he has simply chosen another lifestyle, wrote our Cyd Zeigler, on Jan. 15, 2015.

Troy Aikman: I’ve chosen to not date men

By Cyd Zeigler

Is Troy Aikman gay?

For years that has been the most-asked question we’ve heard at Outsports. The question stems from a Skip Bayless book in which he surmised that Aikman might be gay.

Recently Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch asked Aikman about the story that’s followed him for 20 years. Aikman went on the attack:

I’m upset about it because it was made up and there was nothing accurate about anything that was insinuated. And he did it, as he does everything, just for attention. I am probably more upset because I probably should have responded to it at the time it was going on. The advice to me was “Hey, just don’t address it. It’s not worth it. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s ridiculous. All it’s going to do is have people continue to talk about his book.” So I didn’t. But I probably could have responded differently and maybe that would have changed things. Maybe it wouldn’t have. But it is ridiculous, and, yeah, it bothers me. If that is a lifestyle people choose, so be it. It doesn’t affect me one way or another. But it is not my lifestyle.

“A lifestyle people choose.”

This is the mantra that so many anti-gay people have used for generations now, that we’re all the same and that some people simply choose to have gay relationships.

But the flip side that they don’t think about is that means...other people - some of them gay people - simply choose not to have a same-sex relationship.

Other people “choose” that lifestyle, Aikman said, but it’s not the “lifestyle” he’s chosen for himself.

We saw that “choice” play out on TLC’s show “My Husband’s Not Gay” earlier this week. The show featured four men who are attracted to men - one of them said he’s more attracted to a man than a woman nine times out of 10. Yet these four men all date women - and three of them are married! Whether you call it “homosexual” or “same-sex attraction” or whatever - these guys are gay and in straight relationships.

Aikman says that is simply a lifestyle choice, like what neighborhood to live in or what car to drive or where to take your vacation.

I don’t know who or what Aikman is attracted to, but since he’s told us that the gender of the people you date is simply a choice, we have to take him at his word: He’s made a conscious decision to not date men. He might be inclined to, but instead, he’s chosen to date women.

If gay men simply make a “choice” to date men, then gay men - like TLC’s stars, maybe like Aikman - also simply make a “choice” to date women.

Either way I feel bad for the guy. He’s either had to live with this assumption by people that he’s something he’s not, or he’s felt he has to bury his true self to become a big TV star.

By the way, for anyone who might feel sorry for Aikman, know that he’s also generated speculation about Bayless’ sexual orientation. He should remember this: What goes one way goes the other too.

Is Troy Aikman gay? I don’t know. Neither does anyone else but Aikman himself. He could be, by his own words. The fact that he’s chosen to date and marry women means that’s just his choice - We still have no idea what his true sexual orientation is. — Cyd Zeigler

We’ll have another LGBTQ Sports history story tomorrow and every day through Oct. 31.