It would be so easy to take cheap shots at Jeffree Star, the self-absorbed, attention-seeking narcissist whose stunt this week with his millions of social-media followers has involved various posts with an alleged NFL player with whom Star says he’s sharing a bed.
But I’ll resist sinking to his pitiful level and instead address the real issues at hand.
It’s easy to understand why we at Outsports don’t publicly out athletes against their will. The potential pitfalls of doing something like that can be harrowing for everyone involved.
To be sure, so far Star hasn’t outed anybody.
Yet what he’s doing may be even worse.
Outsports also tries to not feed into the “who dat” “witch hunts” that seem to be so popular with some people hell-bent on creating mystery around the topic of gay professional athletes, using it to prop up themselves.
The tabloids in London do it regularly, promising this one or that one is going to come out publicly in the Premier League… and they never do. Years ago claims of four NFL players about to all come out publicly together was based on virtually nothing… and again, never happened.
The problem with these “who dat” stories are the people who get stuck in the middle of a guessing game, which has been exacerbated with the explosion of Twitter, where everyone has an opinion and facts fly loose.
When Star posts images of his “6’6” “NFL boo” whose “team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl,” he intentionally creates a firestorm he knows full well will engulf innocent people minding their own business. His followers spend hours scouring for every 6-foot-6 NFL player who isn’t playing this season for the Philadelphia Eagles or Kansas City Chiefs.
That has been a big part of Twitter this week, thanks to Star and his mystery NFL player.
Unleashing his minions, Star has already driven the wife of one NFL player – named by some of Star’s minions as a possible bet to be the mystery man – to ultimately set her Instagram as private.
Yet the person I feel for most, and the people who are most-harmed by this childish little game, is the gay NFL player in the closet trying to find support, now refreshing Twitter hoping and praying no one names him as one of the suspects.
Ryan O’Callaghan was a 6-foot-6 closeted player in the NFL for six years — He matches the Star’s description of his NFL player. What would it have felt like to see this going on while he was struggling with suicidal thoughts in the league?
“It would have been absolutely terrifying,” O’Callaghan told me.
While some straight NFL players like Taylor Lewan and their wives may be having fun with this little game, for somebody who’s gay and hiding in the NFL this can be, yes, “terrifying.”
People like Star and the “NFL boo” give no consideration for them.
Calling someone “gay” is not demeaning, because being gay is not demeaning. It may be untrue, it may be distracting, but speculating “Is so-and-so gay” is likely the result of wishful thinking.
This isn’t that. This is, with a wide brush, two people trying to generate some bizarre sense of accomplishment by drawing attention to themselves ahead of a Super Bowl in which neither of them will be playing, as they “refresh” their social-media feeds every 60 seconds.
Whoever the other man is in Star’s images, you have to wonder about his character. While this all may be a big, fun joke to him, this little “who dat” game is selfish and cruel.
“Whoever Jeffree is playing this little game with has to be OK with this,” O’Callaghan said, while adding he’s always happy to see any gay man in the NFL being able to live their life how they want.
“It’s a pretty immature game,” he said.
I’ve been asked a number of times over the last 48 hours about Star’s stunt and the mystery man’s identity. We at Outsports have debated about whether to say a word about this stupidity.
As more media outlets report on it, and the views of these posts reach the tens of millions, it seems to make sense now.
Ultimately Star and his “boo” deserve a challenge: Stop the charade and give us this man’s identity. If this mystery man is OK with playing this little game, he should be OK with being out.
He should turn around in the photos, give us his identity, and stop this nonsense.
And if they refuse to reveal his identity, I hope people see through all of this and realize they’ve all been played by a master manipulator hell-bent on driving attention for himself.
With all due respect.