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Arizona State OL Chip Sarafin comes out as gay

Chip Sarafin

Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin publicly came out as gay in a magazine article published this month.

Sarafin, who is a redshirt senior and originally walked on to the Sun Devils football team, told Phoenix-based Compete magazine that he came out to his teammates last spring.

“It was really personal for me and it benefited my peace of mind greatly,” Sarafin said.

At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Sarafin is one of the largest offensive linemen on the team. He played on the scout team from 2010-2012 and “added depth” to the line last season, according to his bio. It does not appear that he has seen game action yet, which makes him much less of an impact player compared to someone like Michael Sam, who was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. However, Sarafin has come out while active.

Sarafin’s Compete article talks about his academic pursuits. Sarafin is a biomedical engineering major and pursuing his master’s in that field. He is also studying for the MCATs. Sarafin says he is working on developing a carbon fiber football helmet and his ultimate goal is to become a neurologist. Oh yeah, for anyone who was romantically interested in him, he also says he has a boyfriend.

H/T OutSports

UMass guard Derrick Gordon comes out as gay

Derrick-Gordon

Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay athlete in men’s Division 1 college basketball on Wednesday.

Gordon, a sophomore guard who averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for UMass this season, made his revelation in interviews with OutSports.com’s Cyd Zeigler and ESPN W’s Kate Fagan.

“For this to be happening right now, me coming out, it’s an indescribable feeling, honestly,” Gordon said. “I couldn’t be any happier. I feel like I can fly.”

Gordon told Fagan that Jason Collins, who is the NBA’s first openly gay player, inspired him when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season.

“When Jason came back to the league, that’s when I started to build a little more confidence about myself,” he explained. “If the NBA can accept him, then everything is going to be fine in my book.”

UMass head coach Derek Kellogg offered support for Gordon on his Twitter account after the stories were published.

“I have the most profound respect for Derrick and the decision he has made to come out publicly,” Kellogg wrote. “He is a model student, a terrific competitor, but most importantly, he is a wonderful human being. We know his decision weighed heavily on him for some time, but as a coaching staff, a team and a family, we stressed to him that we support him in every way possible. Derrick is a first-class representative of this University and this program since he joined us and we are all very proud of him.”

Gordon is the latest in a series of athletes that have become the first in their respective sports to come out as gay over the past year.

Photo: Instagram/Derrick Gordon

Lobbyist Jack Burkman drafts bill to ban gay players from NFL

Michael Sam MissouriWashington, D.C. lobbyist Jack Burkman announced on Monday that he is drafting a bill that would seek to ban gay athletes from being able to play in the NFL. Burkman said he got the idea for the legislation when Michael Sam came out two weeks ago.

“We are losing our decency as a nation,” he said in a statement, according to TheHill.com. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

Burkman said he has already drummed up political support for the bill, though he would not mention any lawmakers or politicians by name. He urged Congress to consider backing him.

“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it,” Burkman said.

Several prominent politicians, including president Barack Obama, have already publicly voiced their support for Sam. The former Missouri defensive end is looking to shift the focus toward football and away from his sexual preference, though it will be a while before that happens.

“Well, heck yeah, I wish you guys [the media] would just say, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going? How’s training going?'” Sam said at the NFL Combine, via Eric Edholm of Shutdown Corner. “I would love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is. And I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”

We have heard some stupid opinions on the subject of openly gay athletes playing in the NFL over the past two weeks, but Burkman easily wins the “Most Ignorant” award.

Survey: 86% of NFL players fine with gay teammate

Michael Sam MissouriMichael Sam is likely to become the first openly gay player in the NFL come draft time in May, and there has been plenty of debate over whether he will be accepted by his teammates or not. If a recent survey of 51 anonymous NFL players is any indication, Sam should feel pretty welcome.

ESPN.com’s NFL Nation and ESPN the Magazine combined to poll 51 players, which is roughly the size of an NFL roster. They were asked to answer four true-false questions. The results showed that 44 out of 51 players (86%) said a teammate’s sexual orientation did not matter to them. Slightly less said they would feel comfortable showering around an openly gay teammate, as 76% responded “true” to that question.

The most concerning result may have been when players were asked if they believed an openly gay player would feel comfortable in an NFL locker room. 25 players said they thought he would, 21 players said he would not, and five chose not to answer. In other words, only 54% of the players surveyed felt that a gay player could feel at ease with locker room culture.

“Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he’s comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be,” one starting wide receiver reportedly said. “When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don’t think football players are overly familiar with what can and can’t be said around a gay person.”

That is the same sentiment that was expressed by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, and I’m sure a lot of players wonder if they will have to act differently.

Someone like Sam who was respected by his college teammates should have very few problems. He’s been around football his entire life. He’s heard all the jokes and by all indications was as much a part of the Mizzou team and culture as anyone else. In some cases, I think NFL players are over-thinking it.

Michael Sam’s dad driven to drinking by son’s announcement

Michael Sam interviewPerhaps nobody took the news of Michael Sam’s announcement that he is gay worse than the football player’s own father.

The New York Times posted a follow-up piece Tuesday to their Sunday article in which Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, revealed that he is gay. In the follow-up article, The Times says Sam didn’t even tell his own parents about his sexual orientation until a few days before the article came out.

From The Times article:

Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.

Dad, I’m gay, he wrote.

The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.

Michael Sam Sr. also apparently shared with The Times that he is such a staunch advocate of heterosexuality that he took his older son to Mexico to lose his virginity. That sounds to me like he got his son a prostitute for his first, which is pretty disturbing to me. But to each his own, I guess.

Though Sam Sr. is struggling with his son’s revelation, he says he does love his son and hopes he makes it in the NFL. He did, however, supposedly add that the late Deacon Jones is “turning over in his grave” over Sam’s announcement.

Given the way his father reacted, it’s no surprise to hear that Sam says he is closer with his friends than his family. He told The Times that he stays with friends when he returns home to Hitchcock, which is about 40 miles southeast of Houston. Hopefully this will wear off over time and his dad will grow to accept him more.

Michael Sam had a boyfriend in college

Michael Sam interviewMichael Sam was confident enough to become the first high-level football player to come out as gay, so it’s not too surprising to learn that he was comfortable enough to have a boyfriend while in college.

Though Sam only officially came out to his Missouri football team last August, he says people around campus knew he was gay because he had a boyfriend and didn’t hide it.

“I actually dated someone in college,” Sam told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” in an interview. “I wasn’t hiding it, but I didn’t come out either. And people were just like, ‘OK, Michael Sam is gay.’ I wasn’t hiding my relationship with him, but finally coming out to the team made it official.”

Sam explained what it was like to have a boyfriend in college.

“It was new. It was different. I had never dated a guy before and it was my first time dating a guy. It felt right. I know what I want, I know that I can have a relationship now with a man. We went out in public, we had dinners together, movies, holding hands. I felt comfortable, it felt right. If someone has a problem with it, then they just have to deal with that.”

Sam was also asked in his interview with “Outside the Lines” what it’s like being a gay player in the locker room and whether that would be an issue like some heterosexual players believe. He says locker rooms are professional workplaces and that his sexuality shouldn’t be an issue.

“My teammates accepted me. We showered in the locker rooms together. There was never a problem. It’s a business workplace and we have to act professional. I’ve never been attracted to my teammates because I don’t want that problem. So (the guy) I had a relationship with wasn’t a football player. It was an athlete, but it wasn’t a football player because I didn’t want any problems in the locker room.

“Hopefully it will be the same like my locker room. It’s a workplace. I didn’t have any problems with any scrutiny in my locker room. If you’ve ever been in a Division I or pro locker room, it’s a business place, you want to act professional.”

Though Sam seems to be taking a mature and respectful approach to answering many of the questions about him fitting in in the locker room, there is one thing that bothers him.

“People will talk about the stereotype of gays being in the locker room. To me I think that it’s a little stereotyped that gays are predators. That’s very offensive.”

The good news for him is that it seems like only the minority of players view gay athletes as predators. It seems like many are accepting of someone who is gay, or at least will be indifferent, which would also help him blend in.

Ryan Clark concerned about how players should interact with Michael Sam

Michael-Sam-MissouriThere is a difference between expressing an honest opinion about a controversial topic and being discriminatory or insensitive. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark expressed concern on Monday over the prospect of Michael Sam playing in the NFL, but he did it without being homophobic.

Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out publicly as gay on Sunday. He was originally projected to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, though it is unclear if his revelation will affect his draft stock. Clark — and I’m sure many others — is wondering if having an openly gay teammate will affect the locker room dynamic.

“You want to know how you can behave around this person,” he said on SportsCenter, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Anyone who has been in a football locker room knows that there’s a lot of jokes, a lot of ribbing. We’ll talk about anything. If a guy is fat. If a guy is ugly. If a guy’s significant other is not attractive. These are things you josh each other about and you talk with each other about.

“In what ways can you talk to him? In what ways can you involve him in your conversations? What are the things you can do and say around him that won’t make him uncomfortable? That won’t make him feel that he’s being ostracized? Or that won’t make him feel like he’s being harassed or quote, unquote bullied?”

First of all, Sam would have one very significant thing in common with his teammates — they’re all football players. Sam has been around locker room banter his entire life and all indications are that his teammates at Missouri held the utmost respect for him. We know football players talk about women, but Sam would not automatically feel uncomfortable with that.

The fact that Sam is gay doesn’t mean his teammates can’t give him a hard time. There’s a difference between being hateful and needling someone. Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is the only deaf player in Seattle’s locker room, and I doubt his teammates feel uncomfortable interacting with him.

Would it require some adjusting? Most likely, and some players have already indicated that having a gay teammate could change locker room culture. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sam won’t be the last football player to reveal he is gay. The time to start getting used to it is now.