This week, former NBA star Eddy Curry was slapped with a lawsuit after he penned an op-ed titled “The Truth Was Was Worse” for The Players Tribune about his decade-old gay sex scandal that most people had completely forgotten about.
In , Curry was sued by his former limo driver, David Kuchinsky for sexual harassment. The dispute eventually went into arbitration and Curry quietly settled with Kuchinsky for $,
Cut to 11 years later.
In February of this year, Curry opened up about the scandal to The Players Tribune and accused Kuchinsky of being a liar.Well, Kuchinsky didn’t like that very much because this week, he hit Curry with another lawsuit, this time claiming he violated their confidentiality agreement.
“Not only did Curry fail to meet the expectations that us fans had after he signed a contract with the Knicks,” Kuchinsky’s attorney, Matthew Blit, said in a statement this week, “he failed to adhere to his contract with Mr. Kuchinsky.”
And just like that, Curry and the gay sex scandal he wanted everyone to forget were back in the news.
Here are nine more professional athletes who have struggled their shed their alleged gay pasts…
The Los Angeles Laker found himself at the center of gay rumors two years ago when a man claimed he had engaged in a sexual relationship with the NBA star and that he later offered him “hush money” in exchange for signing an NDA. Howard denied the rumors. In July , he told an interviewer the whole thing helped him understand why so many people are still afraid to come out. “I saw how a lot of people would feel,” he said while talking about the hate mail he received. “People are afraid to be who they are.”
Related: NBA superstar Dwight Howard says gay rumors “set me free”
The former-NFL-quaterback-turned-MLB-outfielder is a devout Christian. So devout that, in and , he used his platform as a professional athlete to promote faith-based abstinence and publicly stated he was saving himself for marriage. He even signed a “Statement of Sexual Purity” that proclaimed sex outside marriage was unacceptable and homosexual acts were a sin. This led many to believe he was secretly gay. Tebow, now 33 and still unmarried, has never addressed the rumors.
Related: Saintly QB Tim Tebow To Give Talk At Rabidly Anti-Gay Megachurch
Odell Beckham Jr.
Reports that the New York Giant might be gay first began circulating a couple of years ago after he got into a fight with fellow player Jason Norman of the Carolina Panthers, who called him a “f*ggot.” Last summer, Beckham told GQ, “Honestly, I wasn’t offended. I’ve never once had no problem with anybody who has their own personal life that they live. I have friends who are gay.” He went on to say he has “no problem with anyone’s sexual orientation,” adding that “Love is love. If you’re attracted to somebody, you’re attracted to somebody.”
Related: New York Giants football star Odell Beckham Jr. addresses gay rumors head on
After the NBA All-Star’s marriage fell apart in , reports that the relationship ended because he had been “messing around” with his male BFF from college, who he purportedly bought a million-dollar condo for to keep as their private love nest began swirling. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure since a gag order was placed on the divorce proceedings.
Related: NBA All-Star Tim Duncan’s Divorce Allegedly Sparked By Gay Affair
Chatter that the Green Bay Packers quarterback was in a long-term relationship with his personal assistant/roommate first began in Though Rogers never addressed the reports, his Evangelical father did, putting out a statement calling the whole thing “disgusting.” The rumors resurfaced again just last month when Rogers’ ex-girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn, told an interviewer that she had this “one boyfriend” who refused to go down on her and would only have sex from behind with the lights off, leading her to believe that he was gay. Though she didn’t call Rogers out by name, many assumed that’s who she was talking about.
Related: Olivia Munn unleashes homophobic micro-aggressions on ex-boyfriend before outing him on podcast
Speculation about the NFL hall of famer’s sexuality first began in when sports columnist Skip Bayless claimed he was into both men and women. Aikman, who believes homosexuality a “lifestyle choice,” denied the accusation, but Bayless insisted it was true, saying “A number of the black players, with whom I was close, contended that Aikman was bisexual.” In , nearly 20 years later, Aikmen expressed that he was still upset about the whole thing when he trashed Bayless in a Sports Illustrated interview.
Related: Troy Aikman Is Still Not Over Skip Bayless Speculating He Might Be Gay Over 20 Years Ago
The former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback spent much of his career dodging reports about his sexuality, right up until his retirement in People sort of forgot about it for a while. Then in , they began gossiping again after Andrew Caldwell, best known for his breathless pulpit proclamation “I’m not gay no more!”, announced he and Stewart were lovers. Stewart, irritated, responded by telling TMZ, “There’s no room in my personality for that lifestyle. It’s not what I believe in.”
Related: Former NFLer Kordell Stewart Denies Romance With Andrew “I’m Not Gay No More” Caldwell
The retired baseball player addressed the gay rumors that followed him during the last six years of his career in his memoir Long Shot, writing, “I don’t know where the rumor came from, although I’ve heard many theories, including one that I suppose makes the most sense to me, involving a former teammate and his agent.” Nevertheless, the rumors persisted. Piazza later told an interviewer, “I can’t control what people think. I can say I’m heterosexual. I date women. That’s pretty much it.”
Related: Mike Piazza Wants You To Know He’s Absolutely, Definitely Not Gay
The Los Angeles Laker took to Instagram this past April to clear the air about his sexuality after he commented “sexy lips” on one guy’s Instagram page and then was photographed holding another guy’s hand. The other guy ended up being fellow NBA player Jordan Clarkson’s younger brother, Bear, who is a friend of Young’s. After initially joking with Bear that it was “time to come out,” Young put out a second statement saying he was “fooling” and that it was supposed to be a joke.
Related: NBA star Nick Young addresses gay rumors after being photographed with another man
8 Athletes Rumored To Swing Both Ways And 7 Rumored To Be In The Closet
In today's society more people are more comfortable coming out of as LGBT than 20 or 30 years ago. It goes the same for athletes many athletes have come out in recent years. For example when Michael Sam came out before the NFL Draft he was criticized because some teams didn't want the media distraction signing him would provide. At least that's the reason they said. He was selected by the St. Louis Rams but he was cut before the regular season. After a short stint on Dallas's practice squad, he went to the CFL, only playing in oner game. While sports have come a long way in accepting those of different backgrounds and sexualities, there's still a lot of work to be done.
They're are athletes today who still remain in the closet and won't come out because of the scrutiny they could face. Athletes in team sports are further discouraged, because some teams view an athlete coming out as a media distraction. With roughly 10% of the population identifying as LGBT, there are many rumors floating around that many of these athletes fall in that spectrum, but have chosen to keep it hidden. Here are eight athletes rumored to go both ways, and seven who are rumored to be in the closet.
15 SWING BOTH WAYS: CARL LEWIS
Carl Lewis was a dominant Olympic athlete. He was a track and field star who won 10 medals at the Olympic Games between the years of and Nine out of the ten medals were gold. Lewis also has won eight World Championship gold medals and he holds many track and field records. He also went over a decade without a single loss.
The way Lewis dressed always caused questions to surface about his preferences, even though he was married. Some of his peers even thought he was a secret homosexual. Lewis lost some endorsement deals because certain companies didn't feel Lewis was 'macho' enough of a male athlete to sell their brand. 'They started looking for ways to get rid of me," said Lewis. "Everyone was so scared and cynical, they didn't know what to do.'
14 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: MANTI TE'O
Te'o was a great college football player for Notre Dame. He led Notre Dame to an undefeated season in , but they would lose the Championship game to Alabama. Howeve Te'o faced more of a problem than just the teams he was facing. He told the press that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua died of cancer the same day as his grandmother. He told reporters the news just before a game against Michigan State. However it came out that the story of his girlfriend dying of cancer was false. It came out that Kekua never even existed with the evidence pointing to one of his friends Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. People believe Te'o was catfished into the whole thing while others believed he may be gay and was merely using the Kekua story as a way of hiding his relationship with Tuiasosopo.
13 SWING BOTH WAYS: Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner has made quite a few headlines in regards to her dating life. She earned a lot of praise for coming out despite being a star athlete, and she was very open in sharing her relationship and eventual marriage to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson. Griner got an endorsement deal with Nike after she came out, marking the first time the company had announced a partnership with an openly gay athlete. However, their marriage didn't end well, as both were arrested on domestic violence charges and were divorced after less than two years of marriage. Recently, Griner has come out and said she was done dating women, and it's heavily rumored she and NBA star Anthony Davis have been dating. Interestingly enough, her ex was also rumored to be dating a man.
12 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: AARON RODGERS
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league today. He was drafted by the Packers 24th overall and spent his early years behind Brett Favre. He's won two MVP Awards and a Super Bowl title. He's been living the high life and if you look at his dating resume, you wouldn't expect rumors of his sexuality to float around. He's actress Olivia Munn, soccer player Marie Margoulis and recently he was seen cozying up to Danica Patrick.
However, his former assistant and roommate alleged that he and Rodgers were in a relationship. Rodgers quickly responded saying they were nothing more than friends and colleagues. Rodgers has flat out denied being homosexual, but his former roommate has been persistent in saying they were more than friends.
11 Rumored To SWING BOTH WAYS: MIKE PIAZZA
Piazza is a 12 time All -Star with a career batting average home runs and 1, RBI's. He played for the Mets, and the Dodgers in his career. He fell short of getting into the Hall Of Fame in , but managed to get enough votes to join the class. Back in however, rumors started about his sexually. Someone told the press there was a gay player on the Mets team. Being that Piazza was a big star on the team, fingers started to point to him. Piazza held a press conference saying, “I can only say what I know and what the truth is and that’s I’m heterosexual and I date women. That’s it. End of story.”
He is married to a model and actress Alicia Rickter they've been married since so the rumors of him being gay are probably false. Piazza addressed the old rumors again in a interview and proclaimed: "I was gay, I'd be gay all the way".
10 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: TIM TEBOW
Tim Tebow was the biggest story in the NFL a few years ago, but after a surprising late season surge with the Denver Broncos in , Tebow's career quickly fizzled out. Tebow of course is a very proud Christian, so much so that he has taken a vow of celibacy, waiting for marriage. However some have claimed that it's all an act for Tebow in hiding his sexuality. It's nothing more than hearsay and speculation and odds are it's total BS. As for Tebow's own beliefs, he's kept several hot button issues close to the vest, such as his views on abortion or same sex marriage. There will never stop being rumors floating around about an athlete whenever they are single for this long.
9 9. Rumored To SWING BOTH WAYS: OVIE MUGHELLI
Mughelli drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. The fullback would play for the Ravens for four seasons then was traded to the Atlanta Falcons then the St. Louis Rams. He was selected to two All-Pro teams and a Pro Bowl He had a total of yards and seven touchdowns in his career. Rumors however started when pictures of what claimed to be his ex-boyfriend appeared online. The angry ex- boyfriend claimed that he and Mughelli had been living together and a relationship since his playing days at Wake Forest. It was reported that the couple were told to break up after Mughelli was drafted to protect his image. Looks like his ex was really upset by that and probably wanted to be in the spotlight too.
8 8. RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: CHRIS BOSH
Chris Bosh was rumored to be in the closet when he gave an interview. He was talking about fashion week and said "It was this one thing during fashion week: I had my legs crossed, and they called me gay,I've got my legs crossed, I'm chillin', I'm getting my grown man on at the event. It just seemed like anything I did, it was always chastised or made fun of." Bosh also said in a interview nobody would call him gay if he was a thug saying. "What am I supposed to do? You want me to have cornrows and tats on my neck and just punch somebody in the face when they score on me? It’s crazy. It’s impossible. I can’t do that and play. That’s never been who I am."
Seems like he cares what people say about him too much which is why he could be hiding something.
7 7. Rumored To SWING BOTH WAYS: TIM DUNCAN
Tim Duncan an all time great for the San Antonio Spurs was drafted first overall in He has won five NBA Championships and was selected to the All Star game 15 times. Duncan was married for 12 years to his wife Amy and they have two children together. They divorced in After the divorce Amy started rumors that Tim was bisexual and he was in a gay relationship with someone while at Wake Forest. Amy also claimed that the man lived with them for the first two years Tim and Amy were married. Amy also said Tim bought a man a home but the rumors were never proven. Some gossip outlets reported at the time of their divorce that Duncan was willing to be very cooperative in handing off assets to his ex out of fear that she would out him as bi.
6 6. RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET : BRAYLON EDWARDS
Pictures of Braylon Edwards were on the internet questioning his sexually. With those pictures came rumors of him being gay. The alleged reason he wanted to play in New York was because New York would be more accepting of his lifestyle. As we know, Edwards had some good seasons in New York with the Jets.
In while playing with the Texans safety Will Demps recalled a game when they played the Browns (Edwards started his career in Cleveland) telling Deadspin "Last year I was with the Texans, and when we played the Browns, Braylon Edwards asked me between plays if we could talk after the game about modeling and acting." It seems like rumors seem to pop up at the most minuscule things with athletes. So being interested in acting and modeling makes you gay?
5 5. Rumored To SWING BOTH WAYS: PAIGE
Paige, despite being injured for the majority of the past year, made the most headlines of any WWE female superstar. There were of course, her leaked images and videos with other wrestlers and her tumultuous relationship with Alberto Del Rio. Paige has never outright confirmed that she swings both ways, but she has vaguely alluded to experimenting with women before. There are pictures of her kissing other women and of course, there was the moment on Total Divas kissing Rosa Mendes. It should be pointed out she turned Rosa away, but there are persisting rumors that Paige is open to having relationships with women. Whatever Paige identifies herself as, wrestling fans are just happy to see her back in the ring after a long-term neck injury.
4 4. RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: Kerry Rhodes
Kerry Rhodes, former NFL safety has had to come out several times and deny that he is gay, but the rumors don't seem to go away. First, it was his former assistant who alleged that the two had a relationship. When photos surfaced of them on vacation, Rhodes addressed the rumors saying: "Photos have been circulating of my former assistant and I that have caused some rumors regarding my sexuality, and I wanted to address the situation. I am not gay. The shots were taken during a past vacation in a casual environment with my entire business team."
As for his confirmed dating life, Rhodes married actress Nicky Whelan got married in , but after just six months, it was reported the two were filing for divorce. You wonder if that'll lead to more rumors.
3 3. Rumored To SWING BOTH WAYS: EDDY CURRY
Eddy Curry was drafted fourth overall in the NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. He had a pretty good NBA career he averaged points and rebounds per game. He was a big player on the Miami Heat when they won the NBA Championship in In however Curry sexually came into question when his former limo driver David Kuchinsky would file a lawsuit for sexual harassment and unpaid wages. The suit also said Curry liked playing with guns. The rumors really got nowhere because after the lawsuit was filed, Kuchinsky's records came out that he was a felon and he just was scamming Curry to get money. It's weird how someone's sexuality seems to be used as blackmail time and time again.
2 2. Rumored To Be In The Closet: Josh Selby
Josh Selby has spent much of the last few years playing overseas, but while he was in the NBA, he spent time with the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. During his NBA careers, rumors surfaced that Selby was in the closet, either as a homosexual, or at least bi-curious. The rumors stemmed from an email being leaked in which it appeared Selby had sent some very suggestive pictures to another man. Selby denied it was him who sent those pictures, but you know how rumors tend to fly out of control. Being that Selby has now been overseas for a few years, the rumors of him have begun to fade, perhaps because he's away from the NBA spotlight.
1 1. Rumored To SWING BOTH WAYS: TROY AIKMAN
Aikman was selected as the first overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He won three Super Bowl titles with the Cowboys and made six Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame and College Hall Of Fame in Rumors of his sexually spread by Skip Bayless saying Aikman was gay. Aikman denied the rumors but Bayless stood by what he said saying “A number of the black players, with whom I was close, contended that Aikman was bisexual.”
In Aikman divorced his wife Rhonda Worthey. Aikman had some comments when Bayless was hired to Fox Sports, saying "To say I'm disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement, I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless."
Whether Aikman goes both ways or not, is really only his business, so hopefully the rumors don't resurface unless it's from Aikman himself.
Nonsensical booking and destruction of the tag team division ensured that WWE's most recent Draft made absolutely no sense.
Read NextAbout The Author
My name is Steve Atkinson from Taunton Ma. I'm an aspiring sports writer and I have a passion for sports. My favorite's are Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Hockey, in that order. Follow me on Twitter @SteveA
It’s been quite a year for out LGBTQ athletes, with a record number competing in the Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics, as well as male professional athletes Carl Nassib, Luke Prokop and Bryan Ruby coming out publicly.
This is the first time there will be an athlete from North America playing in a professional league in one of the big five men’s American sports: baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer. Though one of them — Derrick Gordon — is playing overseas. Four athletes from the United States join Canadian Prokop in breaking down barriers for gay and bisexual athletes in big-time sports.
It’s the first time this has happened. There have been various pro athletes to come out publicly before in these most-popular sports in America, including Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers and others. In addition, there have been out gay athletes like Andrew Goldstein playing in other sports like lacrosse.
The simultaneous participation of these men in their respective sports sends a powerful message about just how far sports have come, as each of them reports widespread acceptance.
Here are the five athletes competing in the big five American sports, with one playing overseas in Europe.
Carl Nassib, football
Nassib came out publicly during Pride Month and just restructured his contract with the Las Vegas Raiders that likely means he’ll be with the team through next season.
Collin Martin, soccer
Martin played for MLS’ Minnesota United F.C. when he came out publicly in Now he takes the pitch for the San Diego Loyal.
Luke Prokop, hockey
Prokop called the front office of the Nashville Predators to let them know he’s gay, then with their support he came out to the world. He’s under contract with the Predators and currently plays with the Calgary Hitmen.
Derrick Gordon, basketball
Gordon first played professionally for Apollon Limassol in Cyprus. For the season he’ll suit up for for Römerstrom Gladiators Trier in Germany, near the border with Luxembourg.
Bryan Ruby, baseball
Ruby has played professional baseball in the United States and other countries, coming out publicly this season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon.
Q&A: Jason Collins says Carl Nassib is making ‘a positive impact on someone else’s life’
Carl Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, made NFL history Monday when he became the league’s first active player to come out as gay.
He made the announcement on Instagram, saying that even though he’s a private person and isn’t seeking attention, representation and visibility are so important.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” the sixth-year player said in a video monologue from his home in Pennsylvania. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
Michael Sam, a former University of Missouri defensive end, was the first openly gay football player selected in the NFL draft, chosen in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams in He never made a final roster or played in a regular-season game, however.
Jason Collins, an NBA center for 13 seasons, publicly came out as gay at the conclusion of the season. When he signed a day contract with the Brooklyn Nets in , he became the second openly gay athlete to play in any of the major men’s professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The first was soccer standout Robbie Rogers, who did so for the Los Angeles Galaxy in
Collins, who attended Harvard-Westlake and Stanford, spoke to the Los Angeles Times on Monday and shared his reaction to the Nassib news, and what the player might expect going forward:
What was the first thing that came to mind when you learned of Carl Nassib’s announcement?
Every team’s culture is different. I did see the response that the Raiders put out, which was great to see. I’ll be curious to see what his teammates will have to say, and in particular the leaders, the team captains and those people.
It was huge when I made my announcement, seeing the words of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and Paul Pierce, the list goes on and on of guys who were either leaders in the NBA or guys who I was teammates with. Just reading his statement, he seems to have his head on his shoulders, seems very confident. Obviously, I think he’ll continue to grow as a human being, all of us do.
The donation and support, uplifting of the Trevor Project, I think that’s great. It shows the kind of person and kind of heart that he has. Even in this moment when he’s making a huge personal announcement, he’s still thinking of others. That shows what kind of person he is and what kind of teammate he is.
What are the feelings of relief when you come out as a professional athlete?
There are three components to it. The first is the private coming out that you make to those who matter the most — your friends and family. It seems like he has a great family, a great support system.
The second is the public coming-out statement, which happened today.
The third is your first game as an out gay man in professional sports. That first time that it counts for your team. There’s that day that’s still to come, but I believe he’s going to receive incredible support.
I was just talking with a few friends, they were texting me about all this happening, and they were saying they can’t wait to go out and buy his jersey. It’s really cool to see the support that will be there for him. I’ll be tuning in to watch. I’m not particularly a Raiders fan, but I can’t wait to watch and see how he does. I’ll be cheering him on every second that he’s on the field.
There are a lot of firsts that he’s going to accomplish. The first time he makes a tackle. The first time he gets a sack. The key thing is, when you are the first, you want to make sure that you’re not the last. You want to hold open the door and make sure that others see that it’s OK.
After such an emotional high, is there a natural comedown?
The coming down part is it will eventually be about, how is the team doing? How is he doing? As with all professional athletes, that’s what it’s about. When you’re on the field, is your team better? At the end of the day, that’s what it will come back to.
When I first came back and I was playing with the Nets, yes, there was a lot of media attention. But after about two weeks, all those stories about being the first gay athlete went away and it became about, “Wait, how are the Brooklyn Nets doing?” The same goes for Robbie Roberts, who won an MLS Cup.
As professional athletes, we get that. It will just take a few weeks. I think by Week 4 of the regular season, everybody will be like, “How are the Raiders doing? How is he doing as a defensive lineman? Is he pressuring the quarterback? Is he getting sacks?” It will be about what it always is about.
What memories of that time stand out to you?
I just remember being a member of the Brooklyn Nets in my first game back, playing in Los Angeles at the Staples Center against Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. My teammates made me honorary captain for that game. Might be the first time in the history of the NBA that a guy on a day contract goes in and becomes an honorary captain. That’s the level of support that I received from my teammates. I hope that he’ll also receive that level of support, and I’m sure that he will. I’m very optimistic that he will.
What kind of impact do you think this will have on the LGBTQ community?
He’s going to have a positive impact on someone else’s life that he may never meet in his lifetime. I’ve met many people who have come up to me and told me how my story has impacted them.
What effect did those conversations have on you?
This was a little bit of a new experience. As professional athletes, we’re used to inspiring the next generation, people who are younger than us. But he’s going to find that his actions have inspired not only people who are younger than him but older than him. I can’t tell you the amount of people who were decades older than me who came up to me and said how my story impacted them. You don’t know what to say. You’re still in that mindset of being an athlete and helping kids. But he’s helping people across the board, of all ages.
Looking ahead for Carl Nassib, what do you think will surprise him?
The best part of when you reveal your authentic self publicly is that it will allow those people around you, whether it’s your teammates or people who you thought were friends, you will see their true colors come out. Some people who you might have thought would not be supporters end up being some of your biggest supporters. It’s going to be an incredible experience for him. Humans can surprise you.
The best piece of advice I got was from Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard‘s mom. I got a chance to become friends with Dennis and Judy Shepard. She said: “Let the haters hate. You keep living your life. Keep going out there and shinning and being that inspiration.” That’s what I want him to do.
Rumors athletes gay professional
Kordell Stewart was one of the very first athletes we ever wrote about at Outsports.
It was less than a month after we launched the site that Stewart publicly addressed rumors that he was gay, and that he had talked about it with his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates.
It left a dilemma for Jim Buzinski and me. How do we handle “rumors” that so-and-so athlete is gay?
The story we ran in late was straight news. Who, what, when, where. It came from Jim’s instincts as a longtime newsroom veteran: If we stick to what’s publicly known, we’re not advancing rumors, we’re reporting the news.
Plus, even in those early days of Outsports, neither of us wanted the site to devolve in rumor-mongering. We knew that two gay guys writing about sports was already going to bring with it some raised eyebrows and doubt. While Jim had been out as a sports editor, gay guys writing sports were few and far between. It just wasn’t done.
Compounding all of that was the immediate rush of “rumors” we were receiving from readers within weeks of launching the site. We started Outsports — in those very early days — simply as a place for gay men to come talk sports. It was revolutionary, and so many of our early readers found it fun and exciting to talk about their sports crushes along the way.
Most of the “rumors” we heard we largely classified as speculation and wishful thinking. It was almost always the most handsome, fit guys in sports who made up the “Hey I heard this quarterback sleeps with guys” emails we would get with little more to go on than “He’s just too handsome to be straight.”
Yet some of the “rumors” we heard were detailed accounts of sex and other interactions with NFL players and other professional and Olympic athletes. One in particular stands out as both memorable and likely, because of the source and the details of the story.
Beyond not sharing these seemingly credible rumors on Outsports, Jim and I have both largely avoided even sharing them verbally with other people.
Kordell Stewart’s Players Tribune piece last week, detailing the personal and professional issues created by having “gay” rumors out there, explains why.
To be sure, being gay is not a bad thing. Calling someone gay is not defamatory, whether they are or not.
Yet no one benefits from these rumors.
Not the player. Not his team. Not his fans. And certainly not the gay community. All these rumors create is mistrust and bad blood. Not good.
Like I said, we have addressed a handful of gay-athlete rumors in the past, almost each time using the rumors to explain why they are problematic.
When Aaron Rodgers talked about the swirling rumor that he was dating his male assistant, just weeks before Michael Sam came out publicly, we used the opportunity to explain that yes, sports are accepting, but no, it’s not helpful to spread rumors.
As speculation mounted in , my piece — Is Tim Tebow gay? — described the torment someone like Tebow could be going through.
“If Tebow is gay,” I wrote, “he is buried beneath so much crap he many never get out from under it. Instead of attacking him for it, maybe reaching out a helpful hand would be nice.”
The one athlete we’ve handled slightly differently — Troy Aikman — we’ve done so in part because he’s actually made problematic comments about being gay, saying it’s “a lifestyle people choose.” Our piece about Troy Aikman choosing to not have a boyfriend is Outsports’ most-read story ever.
While I can understand the frustration of someone like Aikman, who’s been dogged by these rumors for years, I can also disapprove of how he’s handled it.
Yet for his part, Stewart couldn’t have hit a better tone with his Players Tribune piece. Thoughtful, raw, honest, and openly accepting of the LGBTQ community.
“I got nothing but love for everybody, no matter what their sexual orientation is,” Stewart wrote. “It’s great to see how much the world has evolved in the last 20 years.”
Yes, it is. And one of the ways our community has evolved is that these rumors and speculation have subsided. I just don’t get the questions or speculation about pro athletes the way I used to. That’s an evolution I’m happy to see.
23 professional athletes who identify as LGBTQ
- Throughout history, athletes in many different sports have identified as LGBTQ.
- Sheryl Swoopes, Megan Rapinoe, and Billie Jean King identify as lesbians.
- Caitlyn Jenner, Patricio Manuel, Fallon Fox, and Renée Richards are transgender athletes.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Billie Jean King, a professional tennis player, was outed in
Billie Jean King is one of the most famous names in professional tennis. Over the course of her career, she earned 39 Gram Slam titles from to She also beat Bobby Riggs in the famous "Battle of the Sexes" match. But in , King was outed as a lesbian, and her publicists told her to deny the claim.
"I said: 'I'm going to do it. I don't care. This is important to me to tell the truth.'" King told NBC News 44 years later. "The one thing my mother always said, 'To thine own self be true.'"
Renée Richards, another professional tennis player, was one of the first transgender athletes.
Renée Richards transitioned in the '70s, and in , she applied to participate in the US Open. She refused to take the required Barr body test, which would test her blood to find out her sex. When she was rejected by the US Open, she sued the United States Tennis Association for gender discrimination and won.
Richards eventually retired from the sport in and has gone on to become an influential coach. Today, she refuses to be put in the spotlight as a trans activist.
"Years ago I was the pioneer, no question about it. They all quoted me and my court case," she told Sports Illustrated in "But I am not anymore."
Michael Sam was the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL.
In , Michael Sam came out as gay in an interview with ESPN and made history that same year. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, becoming the first openly gay man to ever be drafted into the NFL.
"Since February and my big announcement, this has been a whole [lot of] speculation of the first openly gay football player, but you know what? It's not about that. It's about playing football," Sam said in a press conference shortly after being drafted.
Unfortunately, Sam was let go from the team, and in , he announced he was leaving the sport for good.
Ryan Russell became the first openly bisexual person in the NFL and in any major professional league.
Ryan Russell played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive end before becoming a free agent. But in , he made headlines when he announced he is bisexual in an essay on ESPN.
"Let that sink into your brain: Even though openly LGBTQ people are thriving in every area of public life — politics, entertainment, the top corporations in America — they are so invisible in pro sports that a gossip blogger is doing a favor for a bisexual football player by not disclosing that he happens to date men," Russell wrote in the essay. "Nobody should need a favor to live honestly. In nobody's world should being careful mean not being yourself. The career you choose shouldn't dictate the parts of yourself that you embrace."
Ryan O'Callaghan came out as gay after retiring from the NFL.
Ryan O'Callaghan played six seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. He retired in , which is when he had suicidal thoughts and became addicted to painkillers because he was closeted, he said.
"My whole plan was to play football and kill myself," he told NBC News in "I was convinced from a young age that my family would never love me if they knew who I really was. The things you hear as a child—every time you hear someone say 'ft' or talk bad about a gay guy, or see something on TV and make fun of that. If you have a closeted kid, he hears every one of those times you say something. It sticks with him. This was 25 years ago. Most of the things they said were out of ignorance, not hate."
A psychologist convinced the athlete to come out to his family instead, and when he was accepted with open arms, he came out publicly in
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is openly gay.
In , the women's US national soccer team won the FIFA Women's World Cup, but it seemed all eyes were on the team's star player and captain: Megan Rapinoe. The athlete quickly made a name for herself in a series of TV interviews, where she voiced her support of women's rights and LGBTQ rights as an openly gay woman.
"I think female athletes, in general, are at the forefront of every protest in general because we're gay, we're women, we're women of color, we're sort of everything all at one time," Rapinoe told NBC news in "We're unfortunately constantly being oppressed in some sort of way. So I feel like us just being athletes, us just being at the pinnacle of our game is kind of a protest in a way and is sort of defiant in and of itself."
Robbie Rogers was the first openly gay soccer player in a professional league.
Robbie Rogers played soccer in England until when he announced he was gay and leaving the sport. He later told The Guardian that he left the sport after coming out because he didn't want the media attention and scrutiny.
"I'd just want to be a footballer," Rogers said in "I wouldn't want to deal with the circus. Are people coming to see you because you're gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: 'So you're taking showers with guys – how's that?'"
But a few months later, he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy team and became the first openly gay man to play in a major US professional league.
Jason Paul Collins was the NBA's first openly gay player.
In , Jason Paul Collins made history when he became the first person to openly come out in any of the four major professional sports. When he was a Washington Wizards center, he broke the news in an article in Sports Illustrated, writing, "I'm a year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation," he said. "I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
The following year, Collins retired from the NBA after 13 seasons in the league.
Patricio Manuel became the first openly transgender professional boxer.
Patricio Manuel started boxing professionally as a woman in the early s and made a name for himself, becoming a USA National Amateur Boxing Champion. When he eventually transitioned and came out as trans, he lost his coach and his gym in the process.
"It hurt a lot … gyms are our safe space," Manuel told The Guardian in "To have someone basically say you can be here, but no one can know you're here, I don't live my life like that. I will never compromise who I am to make someone feel comfortable."
In , however, Manuel fought Hugo Aguilar in a professional match, and he won, becoming the first openly transgender boxer in the US.
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Homosexuality in American football
LGBTQ history in American Football
There has been only one player who has publicly come out as gay or bisexual while being an active player in the National Football League (NFL): Carl Nassib, who revealed himself as gay on June 21,  Six former NFL players have come out publicly after they retired.Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL Draft, and thus became the first publicly gay player drafted in the league, but was released before the start of the regular season. He became the first publicly gay player to play in the Canadian Football League in August
In college football, Division III player Conner Mertens came out as bisexual in January , becoming the first active college football player at any level to publicly come out as bisexual. In August , Arizona State player Chip Sarafin became the first publicly out active Division I player when he came out as gay. In , Scott Frantz publicly came out as gay, joining My-King Johnson as two of the first openly gay players in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Later that same year, Frantz became the first openly gay college football player to play in a game for an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school. In , Bradley Kim of the Air Force Academy came out as gay, thus becoming the first openly gay football player to play for any military academy in the United States; open homosexuality was forbidden in the U.S. Armed Forces until  Also in , Division II Wyatt Pertuset of Capital University became the first openly gay college player to score a touchdown.
Years earlier in women's football in , Philadelphia Liberty Belles player Alissa Wykes of the National Women's Football Association (NWFA) came out publicly as lesbian.
The generally masculine environment that exists in football, along with the hypermasculinity promoted by sportscasters, make it difficult for a player to come out. Heterosexuality is flaunted in NFL locker rooms with the passing of pornographic magazines and videos, and visits to strip clubs. Anti-gay slurs are sometimes used in the locker room. Fear of backlash from employers, teammates and fans has stopped players from coming out.
While Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi was known to treat his players roughly in practices and during games, he insisted on unconditional respect for gay players and front office staff. Demanding "Nothing But Acceptance" from players and coaches toward all people, Lombardi would fire a coach or release a player should they insult the sexual orientation of anyone. In Washington, Lombardi's assistant general manager, David Slatterly, was gay, as was PR director Joe Blair, who was described as Lombardi's "right-hand man." According to son Vince Lombardi, Jr., "He saw everyone as equals, and I think having a gay brother (Hal) was a big factor in his approachI think my father would've felt, 'I hope I've created an atmosphere in the locker room where this would not be an issue at all. And if you do have an issue, the problem will be yours because my locker room will tolerate nothing but acceptance.'" Upon his arrival in Washington, Lombardi was aware of tight end Jerry Smith's gay sexual orientation. "Lombardi protected and loved Jerry", said former teammate Dave Kopay. Lombardi brought Smith into his office and told him that his sexual orientation would never be an issue as long as he was coaching the Redskins; Smith would be judged solely on his on-the-field performance and contribution to the team's success. Under Lombardi's leadership Smith flourished, becoming an integral part of Lombardi's offense, and was voted a First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career, which was also Lombardi's only season as Redskin head coach. Lombardi invited other gay players to training camp, and would privately hope they would prove they could earn a spot on the team. At the Washington Redskinstraining camp in , Ray McDonald was a gay player, with sub-par skills, who was trying to make the Redskin roster again, but this time with Lombardi as the Redskins' new head coach. True to his word, Lombardi told running back coach, George Dickson, "I want you to get on McDonald and work on him and work on him – and if I hear one of you people make reference to his manhood, you'll be out of here before your ass hits the ground."
Prior to Super Bowl XLVII in , San Francisco 49ers player Chris Culliver on media day during an interview with The Artie Lange Show, was asked if he thought any gay players were on his team which he replied, "No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do Can't be with that sweet stuff." He also opined that any gay players should wait 10 years after retiring before coming out. Culliver received backlash for his comments. Then-Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, an advocate for same-sex marriage, estimated that 50 percent of the league agreed with Culliver, 25 percent disagreed, and 25 percent were accepting of everyone even if they were not in complete support of issues such as gay marriage. Culliver later apologized for his "ugly comments" that were "not what I feel in my heart".
The new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement in contained added protections banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. In , the NFL Rookie Symposium planned for the first time to have speakers on the issue of sexual orientation. That same year, NFL player Chris Kluwe was released by the Minnesota Vikings, which he believed was due to his being outspoken in support of same-sex marriage. He said that special teams coach Mike Priefer in made homophobic remarks and criticized the player for his views on same-sex marriage, a charge Priefer denied. Kluwe also alleged that head coach Leslie Frazier told him to stop speaking out on same-sex marriage. In December, former teammates on the Houston Oilers said that at least two key players on the roster were generally known by the team to be gay, and were accepted by the team. Teammate Bubba McDowell said showering with the gay teammates was "no big deal". In , ESPN reported on Michael Sam's showering habits in the St. Louis Rams locker room, but later apologized that it "failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports."
NFL player Ryan O'Callaghan came out publicly as gay in ; he came out to then-Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli before his NFL career ended in  In O'Callaghan said, "I think it's safe to say there's at least one on every team who is either gay or bisexual. A lot of guys still see it as potentially having a negative impact on their career."
Players coming out
After NWFA player Alissa Wykes came out as lesbian in the December/January edition of Sports Illustrated for Women, the league's owner, Catherine Masters, condemned her for pursuing her own "personal agenda", stating that the league had received "hundreds of phone calls. Gay people were saying it was horrible. Straight people were saying it was great." In , as a panel member at the first National Gay/Lesbian Athletics Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Wykes joked that she felt "great empathy for the women on my team who are straight. I meana straight female football player?"
Division II college football player Brian Sims came out as gay to his team in while playing for Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and publicly told his story in Alan Gendreau was openly gay to his Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders football team from through , but they made no mention of it to the media. Otherwise, he could have been the first publicly out gay active player in Division I college football.Outsports, a Web site specializing in LGBTQ people in sports, released his story about being a gay football player on April 23,  In January , Conner Mertens of the Division IIIWillamette Bearcats publicly came out as bisexual, becoming the first active college football player at any level to publicly come out as bisexual.
After he retired, NFL player David Kopay in was the first major professional team-sport athlete to come out as gay. Prior to Carl Nassib's coming out, many experts believed that the first openly gay active NFL player would not be a current athlete, but instead an already out high school or college player who ends up in the NFL.CBSSports.com reported in April that one NFL team had a player that was not openly gay, but his teammates were aware that he was gay and did not care. That same month, Ayanbadejo said there were up to four NFL players who were considering coming out as gay on the same day with the hope that any backlash would be shared and the pressure on one person reduced. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized that sexual orientation discrimination was unacceptable in the NFL. His statement came after players said they were asked during the NFL Scouting Combine if they liked girls. In November , former player Jeff Rohrer became the first known current or former NFL player to be in a same-sex marriage.
In February , Sam publicly came out as gay after his college career had ended, and became the first publicly gay player drafted in the NFL when he was selected in the seventh round of the draft. Six months later, Chip Sarafin came out as gay, becoming the first active Division I player to come out as gay. The following season another Division Ioffensive lineman, Mason Darrow of Princeton, also came out as gay publicly. In August , Sam became the first publicly gay player to play in a Canadian Football League (CFL) regular season game.
In , Scott Frantz publicly came out as gay, joining My-King Johnson as two of the first openly gay players in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Later that same year, Frantz became the first openly gay college football player to play in a game for an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school.
In , Bradley Kim of the Air Force Academy came out as gay, thus becoming the first openly gay football player to play for any military academy in the United States; open homosexuality was forbidden in the U.S. Armed Forces until 
In August , free agent Ryan Russell came out publicly as bisexual in an essay he penned for ESPN.
In June , Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay via Instagram. He announced a $, donation to the Trevor Project as part of the post. Nassib was entering his sixth NFL season and the second year of his three-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. He became the first openly gay player to play in an NFL regular-season game.
* Posthumously outed
Selected in the NFL Draft, never played in the league
Placed on injured reserve, never played in the league
§Practice squad member, never played in the league
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