College Football Brandon Linder Youth Jersey Star And NFL Hopeful
As the tide of opinion shifts on openly gay professional athletes, a former college football star and National Football League (NFL) hopeful has just come out as gay.
Former University of Richmond wide receiver Kevin Grayson came out as gay during an interview with CBS Virginia's WTVR this week. He told that station that he kept his sexuality a secret because he didn't want that sort of attention.
"You don't want to be the focus in that way," Grayson, who previously was married to a woman, explained to WTVR. "Not to say that it's a negative, but when you have people just asking questions about your sexuality and how teammates are taking it, it takes away from the importance of the preseason. If you are an athlete, you want to be an athlete. You want to be known for what you've done on the basketball court, football field, tennis court, whatever. You don't want to be that person who it's always 'the gay athlete.'"
Now, he is ready to be open with himself and others.
Grayson's hopes for the NFL were dashed in 2011 due to a torn ligament, according to Out Sports. In 2012, he went on to play professional football in Italy and was named MVP of the Parma Panthers after helping them win the Italian Football League.
Though he has witnessed homophobia in football locker rooms throughout his career, Grayson told WTVR he has "no doubt" there are gay players in the NFL and even says he knows and has met some gay players active in the league today. But he will not name names, according to WTVR, insisting instead that such knowledge is a "'take it to the grave' type thing."
After he came out as gay, Grayson received a flood of support. Former Middle Tennessee State kicker Alan Gendreau made headlines when he came out earlier that month, as well.
The NFL met with gay rights groups in April in a push to combat homophobia in professional sports and to open a dialogue for players to express feelings and opinions in a safe space.
Orlando CruzHistory was made in October 2012 when active professional featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico came out. He said in a USA Today article, "I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career."
He continued, "I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."
Jason CollinsJason Collins made history in April of 2013 by coming out, making him the first openly gay professional male athlete in a major sport. Collins is a free agent who has played for the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics.
"I never set out to be the first," Collins told ABC's George Stephanopoulos during an interview that first aired during "Good Morning America". "You're sort of waiting around for somebody else to, you know, raise their hand. I'm ready to raise my hand but, you know, you still look around like, 'OK, come on, guys.'"
Brittney GrinerBrittney Griner is the 2013 number one Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft pick and newly Phoenix Mercury player. Though Griner said she was never hiding, she openly discussed her sexuality as a lesbian during an interview with Sports Illustrated Allen Robinson Youth Jersey in April 2013.
The Baylor University basketball player signed an endorsement deal with Nike shortly after coming out. Olympic soccer player spoke frankly about her sexuality in an interview with Out magazine, saying she is a lesbian and in a committed relationship with a woman.
While her statement may seem bold, the 27 year old Rapinoe told Out's Jerry Portwood that she'd just never been asked directly. "I think they were trying to be respectful and that it's my job to say, 'I'm gay,' she said. "Which I am. For the record: I am gay."
Rapinoe, who's been dating her girlfriend identified in the magazine only as an Australian soccer player for three years, also took time to chat about homophobia in sports and, more specifically, female athletes' perspective on the subject.
"I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out," she said. Still, she added, "In female sports, if you're gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly. It's very open and widely supported. For males, it's not that way at all. It's sad."
Kwame Harris Although his coming out wasn't ideal when news broke that he was facing charges for assaulting a former boyfriend, former San Francisco 49er Kwame Harris spoke out against fellow 49er, Chris Culliver, who said he didn't believe gays had a place in the locker room, saying: "It's surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people."
John Amaechi In 2007, Amaechi who played at Penn State and spent five seasons in the NBA with Orlando identified himself as a gay man in his book "Man in the Middle."
Four years later, Amaechi criticized Kobe Bryant after the five time NBA champion used a gay slur during a game.
"There's only one contemporary meaning for that," he said. "We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N word at a black person. I can tell you that I've been called a f got fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N word. We've got to mirror that progress."
Gareth Thomas Thomas's decision to confirm his sexuality while still an active rugby player was praised by LGBT rights advocates as a brave move. Though others have since followed suit, Thomas hoped people who eventually consider his sexuality as irrelevant. "What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby," he told The Guardian. "I'd love for it, in 10 years' time, not to even be an issue in sport, and for people to say: 'So what?'"
Martina NavratilovaThe Prague born tennis pro, who came out as bisexual www.officialauthenticjaguars.com/authentic-allen-robinson-jersey.html in 1981, is credited with having "expanded the dialogue on issues of gender and sexuality in sports," according to ESPN. "Martina was the first legitimate superstar who literally came out while she was a superstar," Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation, said. "She exploded the barrier by putting it on the table. She basically said this part of my life doesn't have anything to do with me as a tennis player. Judge me for who I am."
Matthew Mitcham The Olympic diver, who took home the gold medal in 2008 in the ten meter www.officialauthenticjaguars.com/authentic-brandon-linder-jersey.html platform, revealed his sexuality in an exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald. Mitcham, then 20 years old, credited partner Lachlan with helping him battle depression and emotional burnout in the years before his Olympic triumph.
Glenn BurkeGlenn Burke became the first former professional baseball player to come out of the closet when he discussed his sexuality in 1982 in an Inside Sports magazine article and on "The Today Show" with Bryant Gumbel.