Yunel Escobar’s gay slur of “maricon” etched into his eye-black this past month epitomizes a long-standing problem in sports. Out, gay athletes are far from being accepted.
Yes, some athletes do come out, but usually after their sports careers are over. That was the case for former NFL cornerback Wade Davis, the first NFL player to come out. Now working at the Hetrick Martin Institute, a LBGT center in New York, Davis divulged his sexuality in June 2012.
“When I knew football was over, I knew my life would begin,” said Davis, as stated on www.outsports.com.
As an up-and-coming player, Davis was advised to avoid another NFL player, who had been pegged as “different.” Told by an unnamed source that any association with the athlete could impact Davis’ chances of making the team, Davis kept to himself while keeping his sexuality a secret.
Former Pittsburg Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy also experienced a similar struggle, McClatchy recently coming out as gay. During his years as the Pirates team owner, McClatchy admitted to hearing homophobic words, prompting him to conceal his sexuality. Why should anybody have to keep that secret?
Yet, Yunel Escobar felt comfortable sharing his “secret,” that to him, a gay person is a “maricon.” Did anybody on the Toronto Blue Jays advise him not to write that on his eye?
Highly unlikely. Instead of discouraging that type of homophobia, the sports world makes it difficult for LGBT players to come out as gay.
While Yunel Escobar said that he did not mean to offend anybody with his gay slur, what positive message could the slur offer? Fortunately, Escobar received a three game suspension and was booed by fans in a recent game.
Escobar’s actions reflect an overall message. There are still tough barriers to coming out in the sports world, many of these barriers perpetuated by one’s peers, who set an example for our youth.
Young teenagers and athletes who hear athletes using gay slurs may think it is acceptable. Witnessing gay slurs from Escobar and others, such as Kobe Bryant calling a referee a “fag” and NHL player Wayne Simmonds shouting the same word to Sean Avery can be devastating for gay teenager who wants to come out. Children raised by LGBT parents are also affected by these gay slurs.
This past month, North Dakota State College student Jamie Kuntz was recently kicked off the football team for kissing his boyfriend at a game.
These instances of discrimination do not encourage LGBT athletes to come out. We need to focus on breaking these barriers in the sports world, making it easier and safer for gay athletes to be who they are.
What are your thoughts about coming out in the sports world? Please leave a comment on my page.