Boxer Orlando Cruz reveals he is gay

Boxer Orlando Cruz publicly revealed on Wednesday that he is gay, making him one of the first athletes to come out while playing professional sports. He is believed to be the first openly gay boxer in the sport’s history.

Cruz made his announcement through a press release distributed late Wednesday.

“I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself,” said Cruz. “I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

Cruz is 18-2-1 with nine career knockouts. He is a former Olympian who competed for Puerto Rico at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, and currently ranked as the WBO’s No. 4 featherweight.

Cruz has been fighting professionally since December 2000. He started his career 16-0-1 and did not lose until 2009 when he lost to Cornelius Lock by TKO. Cruz also lost to Daniel Ponce De Leon in his next fight, but has won his two fights since then.

Cruz is scheduled to defend his WBO NABO title against Jorge Pazos on Oct. 19 in Kissimmee, Fla.

You can go here to everything related to gays in sports that we have covered.

Matt Birk writes column in opposition of gay marriage

Gay marriage has become a hot topic among some NFL players, and Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk is the latest to engage in the discussion.

The issue became publicized when a Maryland politician sent Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti a letter requesting that he prevent Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who supports gay marriage, from expressing his divisive political views. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responded by writing a profane column published by Deadspin in support of Ayanbadejo and gay marriage.

Now Birk, a St. Paul native, wrote a column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune in opposition of gay marriage.

Birk, who graduated from Harvard in 1998, believes that NFL players should have the right to voice their opinion, but he wants society to promote specific marriage values.

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Former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy reveals he is gay

Former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy publicly revealed on Saturday that he is gay, ending a 30-year period in his life where he hid his sexuality.

McClatchy, who is the heir of a newspaper chain, led a group of investors who bought the Pirates in 1996. At age 33, he became the youngest owner in baseball. He said he kept his sexuality a secret during the period he owned the team because he did not think he would be accepted in baseball circles if it were known he was gay. He specifically told The New York Times that hearing homophobic language during his days in baseball convinced him to keep his sexuality a secret.

As he approaches 50, McClatchy decided to come out publicly. He said it was extremely difficult to keep his sexuality private.

“I think I was more paranoid, for sure, about people,” he told The New York Times. “And suspicious, definitely. And angry.”

McClatchy’s partner says he is still guarded and cautious. The two were introduced through an officer in Rick Santorum’s office.

McClatchy, who sold his ownership shares in the Pirates in 2009, helped get PNC Park financed and built, and ensured the team would stay in Pittsburgh when he sold. The team has not had a winning season since 1992.

The former Pirates owner is hoping his revelation will lead to progress in baseball.

“I don’t think they equate breaking the color barrier with Jackie Robinson to, ‘Hey, by the way, we’ve never had one player announce they’re gay while playing baseball.’

“You’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue,” he said. “And there’s no dialogue right now.”

College linebacker Jamie Kuntz says he was kicked off team for kissing boyfriend

Jamie Kuntz used to play football at North Dakota State College of Sciences before he was seen kissing his boyfriend. The freshman linebacker says he was basically kicked off the team for being gay, although head coach Chuck Parsons says it was because he lied.

The 18-year-old Kuntz says he was in the press box with his 65-year-old boyfriend at a game against Show College in Colorado over Labor Day weekend. Kuntz was videotaping his team’s 63-17 blowout when he says the kiss “just happened.” A teammate supposedly saw the kiss and told the coach, but Kuntz lied and said the man was his grandfather.

“People around here aren’t exposed to it,” Kuntz explained. “People expect gays to be flamboyant, not football players. I lied.”

Kuntz says he later felt guilty about lying so he told the truth. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the dismissal letter sent by Parsons to Kuntz informing him that he had lost his partial scholarship as a result of “conduct deemed detrimental to the team” and for violating clearly stated team rules about lying to coaches, teachers or other school staff.

“I know if it was a girl in the press box, or even an older woman, nothing would have happened,” Kuntz said. “If it was an older woman, I would have probably been congratulated for it from my teammates.”

School officials are now looking into the case, and North Dakota State College of Science president John Richman says he believes it is being handled “fairly and consistently” by the athletic department.

Kuntz mother, Rita Kuntz, says Jamie told her he was gay at the same time he told her he had been kicked off the team. While she has accepted his sexuality and believes what the team did was wrong, she doesn’t agree with her son having a 65-year-old boyfriend and believes the older man is taking advantage of Jamie.

Photo via Jamie Kuntz’s Facebook page

49ers become first NFL team to film ‘It Gets Better’ video

The 49ers became the first NFL team to film an “It Gets Better” video in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens. The video includes appearances from Donte Whitner, Ahmad Brooks, Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois, who encourage LGBT youths by telling them their lives will get better.

According to The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows, the 49ers players filmed the video in the spring after fan Sean Chapin ammassed more than 16,000 signatures on Change.org asking the team to make one. Chapin also successfully encouraged the San Francisco Giants to become the first MLB team to produce an “It Gets Better” video.

“The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years,” the project’s website says. “The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.”

The 49ers uploaded the video to their YouTube account and shared it via Facebook, but they do not have plans to play it during games. A team spokesman said the anti-bullying message fits the mission of the 49ers Foundation to “Keep kids safe, on track and in school,” per Barrows.

We applaud the 49ers for making the video. This is a progressive step for a league dominated by male camaraderie and machismo, and where hazing still exists. Even though some current NFL players have expressed anti-gay thoughts recently, there are many more who say they would support a gay teammate.

Rob Gronkowski says he would support a gay teammate

Last week at the ESPYs, Rob Gronkowski was interviewed by Outsports and asked about how he’d react if a teammate of his came out as a homosexual. Initially, Gronk was uncomfortable with the question and respectfully declined to answer in fear of saying the wrong thing.

Fair enough. That’s his right. As we all know, Gronk, even if he means well, in the past has said some seemingly not-well-thought-out things. And who knows if the Patriots’ gag order on him had already gone into effect. But eventually, Gronkowski got past his fears and came back to the interviewer with his answer:

“If that’s how they are, that’s how they are,” Gronkowski said. “I mean, we’re teammates so, as long as he’s being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that’s cool.”

Gronkowski is yet another NFLer who has said he’d be okay with having a gay teammate. It’s a growing list that unfortunately has its opponents.

But for all the grief (or adulation) we give Gronk for acting like a dumb meathead jock. The dude actually does some pretty admirable things. But of course nobody talks about them.

H/T Shutdown Corner
Photo: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

U.S. Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe reveals she is gay

A combination of superior athletic ability, a unique hairstyle and a great sense of humor has made Megan Rapinoe one of the more popular and well-known players on the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team. Rapinoe created one of the signature moments of the Women’s World Cup last year when she grabbed the field microphone after scoring a goal and sang Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Recently, she also became an inspiration to a homosexual community that has not exactly been well-received in the sports world.

In the July issue of Out Magazine, Rapinoe revealed she is gay.

“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” Rapinoe said according to Out.com. “I feel everyone is really craving (for) people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Rapinoe explained that she has not been hiding the fact that she is gay, but said no one has ever directly asked her. She said she has been dating a female Australian soccer player for three years, but just as people don’t walk around revealing that they are straight she hasn’t felt the need to come out and inform people that she is gay.

“I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay,’” she said. “Which I am. For the record: I am gay.”

While more and more athletes have been coming out in support of the gay community (here is a list of NFL players who did so), it is obviously still a problem. Based on the number of people who play professional sports in America, it is safe to assume that there are gay athletes in many locker rooms. They have chosen to keep that information private for a reason. If popular players like Rapinoe can continue to embrace their sexual identities, it will help others who struggle with theirs on a daily basis.

Photo credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE