Image of Ayanbadejo via Facebook
With Super Bowl 2013 this weekend, we see two teams that have had their say on gay athletes.
The Baltimore Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo has been a stand out ally for the gay community, advocating for same-sex marriage in home state of Maryland--which was legalized this past November. Ayanbadejo is currently using his media time from the Super Bowl to continue to talk about the issues. "Equality is a relevant issue. Whether you decide to speak out about it or not, it's going to affect everybody one way or another. Hopefully I'll be able to win a Super Bowl and do the entire media circuit so I can talk about these things."
In other recent news, the Ravens's opposing team, San Francisco 49ers's Chris Culliver has made headlines for anti-gay remarks where he says an openly gay player is not welcomed. He has since issued a quick apology and said he "pledges to learn from this experience," but who knows if that will be true.
Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe criticized Culliver for sending the wrong message to millions of young fans and aspiring athletes. "While he's certainly entitled to speak his mind, Culliver is a role model whether he likes it or not," said Kluwe in a press release from the Family Equality Council, who is honoring Kluwefor his vocal advocacy on behalf of LGBT people. "There are kids all over the United States who aspire to be right where he is and he has an obligation to consider the effect of his words. Kids are listening."
Luckily, Culliver is not a reflection of his entire team; several of the 49ers support the community and his teammates recently did a video for It Gets Better, making the team the first to create such a video. However with the Culliver incident, two of the 49ers who appeared in the video were interviewed and apparently forgot and denied making the video.
Then after they were showed it, one claimed they thought it was just for "anti-bullying." When Dan Savage found out about this, he removed the video from the It Gets Better web page. "We don't want videos of people who didn't realize what they were doing," Savage told Outsports. "It's a project specifically aimed at LGBT kids and their unique need for support and role models."
With so many different views on the issue of gay people, and some forgetting where they stand, is America ready for the first active, gay football player? Despite some draw backs, with outspoken allies such as Ayanbadejo and Kluwe, we are moving toward the historical moment in sports and for the LGBT community.
"There are already gay players in the NFL," Ayanbadejo said. "I don't know when people will be ready. But hopefully they'll be ready when it happens because it's going to happen in an NFL locker room."
Times have changed from when he entered the legaue a decade ago. "The young guys in the NFL now are a lot more open-minded and progressive," Ayanbadejo said. "It gives you an idea of where we're going as a people and a nation."
OutSports' Cyd Zeigler and PR pro Howard Bragman have shared their thoughts on SBNation about the first gay "Jackie Robinson" of the 'Big 4', and hope his coming out is not like George Micheal's. "We keep hearing that the first out player in the 'Big 4' professional sports is just around the corner, that millions of dollars in endorsements are coming his way, that the iconic "Jackie Robinson" status will be accorded to him," they write.
"All we need is for one heroic baseball, basketball, football or hockey player to see the writing on the wall and hold a news conference announcing his sexual orientation to the world. If only. In this age of gossip sites and social media, we're desperately afraid the first out pro athlete will get dragged out of the closet by a scandal. Instead of a proud gay man declaring his truth to the world, he'll be a disgraced athlete in damage control mode."