Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brian Sims: A Gay Football Player Speaks Out

Brian Sims was a college football player. He is gay. He was out to his teammates. He was a team leader. He had a positive experience. These are five sentences that, according to some people, we should not expect to see written in the same paragraph about the same man. It probably helps that he is also smart, good-looking, strong, tough and completely comfortable with who he is.

Nonetheless, Brian has decided to speak out about his experience in hopes of helping athletic departments, coaches and male athletes to think more critically about what it means to have a gay teammate and to help them rethink the knee jerk reaction of many football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey players and coaches: “A gay man just wouldn’t be accepted on our team.”

I have always thought that a star athlete or team leader who is gay is more likely to be accepted by teammates and coaches because he has “proven” himself (read: he doesn’t act like everyone expects a gay guy to act). We will truly have turned the corner on homophobia in sport when the guy at the end of the bench who doesn’t log a lot of playing time and is not seen as a team leader gets the same acceptance and respect as a gay star. It is still a good thing though when a man like Brian Sims speaks out because he does defy those lingering stereotypes of gay male athletes that some straight athletes harbor. A little dissonance is a good thing.

It’s also true that sometimes, football players (and other male athletes) need to hear from football players. Brian Sims has some credibility with that group that someone else, say a middle-aged lesbian whose only football experience was as a ten year old playing tackle in the front yard with her boy buddies in the 1950’s, doesn’t have. Thanks to Brian for speaking out. We need all the different voices we can muster to raise a lusty chorus for harmony and social justice in sport. Ok, that last sentence was over the top, but you get my drift.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pat - thanks so much for the kind words. I'm very careful when I speak to college athletes to let them know that I am no "gayer" or "straighter" than any gay guy out there. My experiences led me to be the man I am, others experiences lead them in different directions but being a gay athlete is not about how "butch" or "masculine" a guy can appear to his teammates, it's about giving them permission to learn a little and grow a little!
Brian Sims

H M ZAK said...

I think it's really interesting to read this article. Unfortunately homophoby is everywhere but we have to fight it. Thanks for your blog. Greetings from France.
Zak.

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We should respect each other, so what if he is a gay and plays football.

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It means to have a gay teammate and to help them rethink the knee jerk..

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I think it was the best thing he did, I mean speak out in order to jump out the closet, I think this man will inspire more players around the world don't feel restrained about it.

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