Friday, February 16, 2007

Gay Athletes

In thinking about that American ex-basketball creep who openly expressed his proud homophobia, I realised that I wasn’t aware of any professional New Zealand athletes who’d ever come out.

As it happens, very few American professional sports people have ever come out, and all of them have been after they retired. Professional sports in
America is a bastion of heterosexist macho bullshit, and they’re actually quite proud of that.

New Zealand, the civil and human rights of gay people are fully protected. For the most part, the fact that someone is gay or lesbian is simply a non-issue. So, the fact that there are no openly gay professional sports people in New Zealand could simply show that it’s just not an issue here. Also, New Zealand is a very small country, so the odds of a professional athlete being gay are much smaller than in America.

All of which is true. But I’d still like to see some out gay professional athletes in this country. I’m not talking about political stances, or someone flogging their autobiography after they retire. What I want are role models.

Despite its progress,
New Zealand, like America, still has a large number of people for whom professional sports are important. So for some gay and lesbian teens, struggling to adjust to the reality of their sexuality, seeing an out and proud athlete has got to be a good thing. Suicide is the leading cause of death for lesbian and gay young people, and New Zealand has a high youth suicide rate. I believe that out and proud role models can help save some of those kids.

I understand and support the right of every person to make up their own minds about where, when and under what circumstances they come out—or even if they do. After all, I haven’t exactly gone around
New Zealand wearing a t-shirt emblazoned “Big Fag”. So I’m not saying that gay professional athletes must come out, just that I wish someone would.

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