My Dear Friend,
I hope this finds you in great health and soaring spirits after that most recent race where you were over the moon with your podium finish. I remember the look of joy and elation on your face as your name was announced over the PA system, proclaiming you second in your age group category. The fist bumps and high fives from your teammates on your way to claiming your medal and prize bag were proof of how proud they were to have you as friend and teammate.
Having known you for only the time we both entered this crazy sport several years gone by, it may not be my place to speak so boldly about what am about to say. But since you know me as being only one of two extremes, outspoken or diplomatic, you probably won’t be surprised by what I have to say. Know that as your friend, I have only good intentions by opening up on this touchy subject. Yes, you’ll say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I think it’s high time I brought this up.
You’re gay — and I know it.
I’ve known it for some time, but I’ve never spoken to you about it until now. It may be the small giveaways you let slip every so often, such as pointing out how color schemes of uniforms don’t match, or what a particular teammate has done with his/her hair lately. Or maybe it’s my inner ‘gaydar’ that’s been honed over the years, which sets off alarm bells when I come across someone new, who isn’t out of the closet but obviously (to me, at least) manifests signs of being a home team player. Whatever it is, I have fairly sharper instincts than the average person when determining whether the person I’m speaking to is gay or straight.
You’re gay — and other people know it.
I should know. I hear it from the idle talk that abounds while waiting for race briefings, from the audible whispers during socials, or from training sessions with friends from other clubs. The one question that seems to pervade these discussions: Why won’t he come out already? And to that query I postulate: Maybe he doesn’t see the need to. Whatever your reasons are, I want you to know that this friend has and will never judge you, and that it’s really none of my or anyone else’s business. My question is different. Wouldn’t you feel less encumbered or burdened if you did come out? I’ve heard stories about people who have struggled with their gayness, only to feel completely liberated after voluntary disclosure. Okay, maybe it really is none of my business.
You’re gay — and shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it.
Because that doesn’t change who you are: a great athlete and an even greater person.
Former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley was quoted by the Washington Post with these words: “First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”
Though I may not always agree with Chuck, particularly on his all-star picks or wardrobe choices, but this is one time I have to say am with him a hundred percent. A person’s sexual orientation should never figure in evaluating performance or determining eligibility; tolerating such would throw us back to the era of segregation and apartheid. Because this is what it is: sexual apartheid. Just as skin color, race, and religious beliefs have become polarizing forces and the cause of illogical and inhuman practices such as ethnic cleansing and suicide bombing, so has sexual discrimination taken on ugly repercussions such as gay bashing and random anti-gay ambushes.
I value our friendship and hope that you’ve read this with an open mind, because I look forward to being friends with you for a very long time. I wish only good things and unbridled happiness for you.
Are you married or happy? So goes the one-liner made popular in the 1930’s by Curly of the Three Stooges. After many years, this query still makes people both laugh and think, since it obviously hits a nerve for those who laugh the loudest.
So are you happy or gay? Hopefully, it’s both.
OMG! (Overheard Multi-Sport Gossip) For The Month
Weeks before the opening of a bike showroom specializing in mountain, road, and triathlon bikes, a diminutive customer who we’ll call Mr. Big demanded to see posthaste, the bike frame that he had delivered from abroad. In their desire to please the customer, store staff who were still in the midst of prepping the showroom for its opening searched for the said frame and presented it to Mr. Big, who still wasn’t satisfied. In a loud and bossy tone, he ordered the staff to assemble the bike including installing pedals so that he could test ride it immediately. With Mr. Big making a fuss at the top of his voice, the flustered staff did as they were told, even mounting the bike on the storeowner’s personal bike trainer just to appease the ornery customer. Mr. Big climbed on the bike, had his driver take his picture while he was seated and pedaling in order to find out if he looked good in the aero position. Dismounting, he then turned the bike over to the staff saying, “I’ll think about it,” and coolly walked out of the store. We’ve heard of ‘The customer is always right’ policy, but they don’t have to behave like buttholes. If Mr. Big’s teammates knew of his boorish and abnormal behavior, they would probably kick him out of the team faster than you can say “extra small.”
“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you've just told them.”
Author, TV host, political commentator