A Former NBA Player Comes Out

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Former NBA Player Comes Out

Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon:
Just as it would be a relief to arrive at the place in time when the color of the coaches in the Super Bowl matters not one bit, it would be fabulous to reach the day when a male athlete in a team sport doesn't have to worry about the reaction of declaring his homosexuality.

But that day isn't here just yet, as we found out this week now that John Amaechi has become the first former NBA player to publicly say he's gay. The reaction to Amaechi's announcement in advance of his soon-to-be-released autobiography, "Man in the Middle," is all over the place, from appropriate indifference to utterances that border on homophobic to, well, stock ignorance.

... The fact that a great number of heterosexual male athletes actually believe they don't already share locker rooms and showers with gay teammates is laughable.

Charles Barkley, who played in the NBA for 16 seasons, said yesterday: "It shouldn't be a big deal to anybody. I know I've played with gay players and against gay players and it just shouldn't surprise anybody or be any issue."

... If we're lucky, the men and women who are both enlightened and emboldened will not only be supportive but will drown out the knuckleheads and Neanderthals and everybody who wants to slow the march of progress. Even one step away from tolerance, whether we're talking about race, gender, religious beliefs or sexuality, simply slows the march to the day when none of this stuff matters.

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