Fresh out of the
closet locker room! The recent coming out of former Pittsburgh Pirates owner and CEO (from 1996-2007), Kevin McClatchy, shines light on a multi-faceted anti-LGBTQ culture in professional American athletics. McClatchy, who reveals his sexuality today in the New York Times, claims that he was dissuaded from coming out while he was still working in the world of sports by the homophobic attitudes of his colleagues. In an interesting turn of events, McClatchy met his current partner through their mutual friend—a staff member of former US Senator of Pennsylvania and presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Santorum, a notable opponent of marriage equality, is presumably as surprised as we are.
While great strides are being made in LGBTQ visibility in the media, politics, and business – even in the military – we still see professional athletics as lagging behind. In 2012, the athletic community has a better chance to lead on the respect and acceptance of LGBT folks than ever. In 1975, David Kopay of the NFL became the first major league athlete to publicly disclose his sexuality. Since Kopay, very few major league athletes have come out as LGBTQ. Both Kopay and McClatchy have expressed that the culture of athletics is largely not LGBTQ friendly. In one extremely troubling incident in 1985, an offensive lineman for the University of Pittsburgh attempted suicide after having sexual urges for another man.
Hopefully, McClathy’s recent coming out will encourage more figures in the world of professional sports – both players and their corporate leaders – to come out themselves, and open up an opportunity for dialogue about ending the deep seeded homophobic attitudes prevalent in sports culture. Anyways, isn’t a locker room just one big shared closet?
Further Reading: http://espn.go.com/otl/world/timeline.html
This post is by Victoria Martin, West Chester University ’15.