What do these two things have in common?
Do I hear birds chirping outside? Does anyone have an answer?
That’s because there is nothing in common between the LGBTQ community and professional team sports.
It’s a rather sad fact that most people who consider themselves LGBTQ don’t think they can play professional sports, whether it’s hockey, baseball, football, basketball, or anything else out there because men’s sports tend to be a very homophobic area to work in.
But today, one very important man took the initial step to change all that. The Phoenix Suns’ president, Rick Welts, came out to the world as a gay man.
For decades, Rick Welts has kept one of the most important parts of his life secret from the rest of the world, having to deal with the death of a longtime partner, Arnie, alone in 1994, as well as other things.
“In these meetings and in interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic.” -NYT
But, as Eric Freeman, writer of the Yahoo! Sports Blog, said, “… the boardroom isn’t the locker room, and progress in one doesn’t always lead to broadened horizons in another. David Stern accepting a gay friend does not mean that a group of 15 players would be totally cool with one openly gay teammate. That time will come, but it’s not necessarily right around the corner.
Nevertheless, instances of improved social equality should be celebrated no matter how minor the advances may be. Welts has made history, and we should applaud him for it.”
Rick Welts’ actions may be minor in the scope of the planet, but for him and the NBA specifically, his words are a major deal. Congratulations are in order as he had the courage to say something even after all his decades alone. With hope, more people will have the courage to come out of the proverbial closet as well, and others will stand beside them and give them full support.
The initial article that ran in the New York Times can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/sports/basketball/nba-executive-says-he-is-gay.html?_r=1&src=tptw&pagewanted=all
The Yahoo! sports blog can be found here: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Suns-president-Rick-Welts-tells-The-New-York-Tim?urn=nba-wp3254
LGBTQ support groups: