Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy failed to take home a medal in the freestyle event over the weekend, but his experience in PyeongChang seems as though it was very fulfilling.
After he failed to match or improve upon the silver medal he won at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Kenworthy was shown on NBC’s television coverage kissing his boyfriend, Matt Wilkas. Kenworthy didn’t realize the moment was televised until the following day, and he was glad that it was.
Kenworthy came out in a 2015 interview with ESPN, and he has been an inspiration to the LGBTQ community since. He and figure skater Adam Rippon became the first openly gay American athletes to participate in the Winter Olympics this year.
“That’s something that I wanted at the last Olympics – to share a kiss with my boyfriend at the bottom – and it was something that I was too scared to do for myself,” Kenworthy told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. “And so to be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcasted for the world is incredible. I think that’s the only way to really change perceptions, break down homophobia, break down barriers is through representation. And that’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I definitely didn’t see a gay athlete at the Olympics kissing their boyfriend. And I think if I had, it would’ve made it a lot easier for me.”
Kenworthy also shared a message on social media thanking fans for their support.
Despite not winning a medal, Kenworthy was a big part of the Olympic coverage in South Korea. On lighter notes, he freaked out about a tweet he received from Britney Spears and took a funny shot at vice president Mike Pence after breaking his thumb. Overall, it would not be a surprise if Kenworthy felt like the 2018 Winter Games made a bigger impact on him than four years ago when he won a silver medal.
Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan revealed on Tuesday that he is gay.
In a lengthy feature published by Outsports, O’Callaghan detailed how his plan from a young age was to take his own life as soon as his career in football had run its course. The 33-year-old never revealed to any of his teammates that he is gay while he was still playing, and it wasn’t until he saw a team counselor and came out to NFL executive Scott Pioli that he realized suicide wasn’t the only option.
O’Callaghan played six NFL seasons, and he says he cannot remember a single instance where he heard a homophobic slur in the locker room. He did, however, feel extremely out of place and fearful of being outed almost all the time.
“There is so much talk about women in the locker room, even in the NFL,” O’Callaghan explained. “I’d just turn around and ignore it. I figured I couldn’t even talk about it well, like they would see through me if I did.”
Pioli, who had worked as the vice president of player personnel with the Patriots before becoming the general manager of the Chiefs, ended up bringing O’Callaghan with him to Kansas City. He was also one of the first people O’Callaghan came out to after the former Cal star battled a painkiller addiction and took steps toward preparing to kill himself.
When O’Callaghan approached Pioli to inform him he needed to get something off his mind, Pioli thought the lineman had done something “truly terrible.” After O’Callaghan informed Pioli he’s gay, the GM assumed there was more:
“So what’s the problem you wanted to talk me about?” Pioli asked.
O’Callaghan looked at him, bewildered, 27 years of fear, anxiety and self-loathing meeting Pioli’s stare.
“Scott,” O’Callaghan said, “I’m … gay.”
Pioli acknowledged that and asked again if O’Callaghan had done something wrong.
“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli told Outsports. “I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”
The entire story is worth reading. While it’s disturbing that O’Callaghan felt suicide was his only option for most of his life, it is encouraging that he received so much support from friends and family after coming out. Hopefully that continues.
Photo via Ryan O’Callaghan on Facebook
Michael Sam is the only openly gay pro football player in history, but that does not mean he is the only gay player in the league.
Former NFL cornerback Fred Smoot did an “AMA” on Reddit Monday to promote his podcast, and he answered a wide range of questions. Some of the questions had to do with gay players, and Smoot had a pretty interesting response.
Here’s how the sequence went:
Q: Did you encounter any gay players?
A: yes. several.
Q: At the professional level? Was it a don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing, or did everybody on the team generally know?
A: everyone knew
Q: We’re they treated noticeably different? Or did nobody really care?
A: no one cares
Though it seems like nobody cares about players being gay, there was a belief that that was part of the reason Sam was cut from the league, though others disagree. Sam also agrees with Smoot and has said in the past that there are a lot of gay players in the league, they just aren’t publicly open about it.
Smoot’s a pretty interesting cat, so his entire AMA is worth reading. He’s a funny guy (he did coin the “Red Lobster” nickname for Mike Shanahan). We’re just thankful his “Love Boat” scandal didn’t go down during Roger Goodell’s day, otherwise he would have been banished from the league.
New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy was open to interacting with Billy Bean when the former MLB player came to Mets camp on Tuesday, but he said afterwards that he does not agree with the homosexual man’s “lifestyle.”
Bean, who played with three teams during his six-year career, publicly announced he was gay in 1999, four years after he was done playing ball. He spoke at the GM meetings in November, which gave Mets GM Sandy Alderson the idea to bring him in for a day to have Mets players see what it was like to have a gay player around.
NJ.com says Bean was welcomed by Mets players, including Michael Cuddyer, who spoke positively about having a gay player around. Murphy, who has played his entire career with the Mets — mostly as a second baseman — had some mixed views about Bean.
Murphy is a devout Christian who said he would accept Bean as a teammate. However, he seems conflicted about how to deal with homosexuality.
“I disagree with his lifestyle,” Murphy said via NJ.com. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”
Many other devout Christians have expressed views against homosexuality when the subject has come up in sports. Torii Hunter was quoted as saying that having a gay teammate would be “difficult and uncomfortable.” He later backtracked.
Murphy tried to explain his conflicted views.
“Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality,” he said. “We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”
Though calling homosexuality a lifestyle is an inaccurate way of describing one’s sexual orientation, at least Murphy is not shunning Bean/gay people and realizing that loving someone is more important. But he still has a way to go in terms of completely embracing gay people.
Major League Baseball umpire Dale Scott recently became the first official in a major US sport to come out as gay.
Scott first discussed his private life in the October issue of Referee Magazine, and he provided a photo of himself with his husband for the feature. Scott’s husband, Michael Rausch, has been his partner for 28 years.
In an interview with OutSports that was published on Tuesday, Scott explained his decision to send the photo to Referee Magazine editor Jeff Stern.
“My thought process was that there’s a story about my career and how I got started in umpiring and they’re talking to people I have known since junior high and it didn’t seem right to have a whole story and pictures without a picture of Mike and I, someone who’s been with me through this entire process,” Scott said. “We met the October after my first year in the big leagues.
“Obviously, when I sent that picture to Jeff, I knew exactly what it meant. In a small way, this was opening that door in a publication that wasn’t going to be circulated nationwide. It could be picked up, but it’s not Time magazine. I made that decision to go ahead and do it because I felt it was the right thing to do.”
Scott said that his colleagues and MLB management already knew he was gay, so he didn’t intend to have a “banner headline” coming out story when he let Stern into his personal life. He simply didn’t think it would be appropriate to talk about his life story without including the man he has been with for nearly three decades.
The entire interview with OutSports is worth reading. If you follow baseball closely, you’re probably familiar with Scott. Most recently, he was ripped by Matt Kemp for his strike zone during a postseason game.
Remember Mike Sims-Walker? Sure you do. He’s the guy who had one or two decent seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars about five years ago before he suffered a knee injury and nobody wanted him anymore. But he still kicks around on Twitter, and like many others he offers some hard-hitting views on controversial topics.
For example, Sims-walker took to Twitter on Thursday morning to express some confusion over the concept of coming out of the closet.
Well, Mike, where do we begin? For starters, straight people aren’t discriminated against for being straight. They’re not bullied into thinking their sexual preference is “wrong” and don’t feel the need to go through life hiding who they are. People like Michael Sam hope that by coming out they’ll inspire others to overcome their fear of being bullied or worse.
Wait, why am I even getting into all this? Who’s Mike Sims-Walker? Never mind. Carry on.
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.
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
Washington, 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.
Michael 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.