It is very rare that we find a gay sports player in men’s professional sports team. It is rarer when we find the concerned person opening up about his homosexuality. Phoenix Sun’s president, Rick Welts told The New York Times that he is gay. He is the first man to make his gender public in the men’s professional sports world. Wanting to know more about this condition, Dan Lebowitz, an executive director of Sport in Society (a research centre in the Northeastern University) was asked to explain and put forth his opinions on the subject.
When asked about Welts’ announcement, he described it as a ‘monumental moment in professional sports history’. It has and will give opportunities to many queer players to come out and accept their homosexuality. He said that it is important to challenge our narrow construct of manhood and to practice humanity in the real sense of the term. “Ability, not sexual orientation, should be what defines a man,” he said.
Further in his interview, he spoke about how racism, homosexuality, and heterosexuality affect the manner in which a sports player is perceived. African – American quarterback, Doug Williams, who led the Washington Redskins to a super bowl victory, had to handle the pressure of the game and also racism which lurks in our society. However, success and encouragement change the game of perception. People like Doug Williams and Rick Welts have given a path to make people accept ‘being black’ and ‘being homosexual’.
Lebowitz was also asked if he had any advice to the athletes who were worried about going public about their homosexuality. To this, he replied that it would be an individual choice. People like Welts’, and Charles Barkley who have already done it have found the courage and grace to do so. He says that all movements need momentum and these people have started and given a necessary push in claiming their identity.