Are athletes becoming more comfortable with their sexuality?
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is going “full steam ahead” after his battle with Maryland legislator C. Emmett Burns Jr., who last week wrote a letter calling on the team’s owner to silence Ayanbadejo regarding his public advocacy of gay marriage, only to back down amid a national uproar:
As a pro-football player with an international platform, Ayanbadejo has been promoting LGBT equality for several years, working with Equality Maryland. In the wake of the confrontation with Burns, he sees a marked difference in the response to his advocacy from just five years ago, noting how he used to experience jabs from teammates and some fans.
“In years past it would be just random people, who would write ignorant things [in response to my advocacy],” he said. “I haven’t had a single negative comment from any of my teammates or anybody around the NFL [after this episode], whereas in the past it was a completely different story. The fans — people all over the country, all over the world — have just invigorated me to fight even harder for marriage equality. I’ve been energized from the outpouring from all over the world. Maybe around 20 people — players, people in the building, whether it be a secretary or a janitor, or even coaches — have come up to me and given me a high-five.”
“Whether it was women’s rights or interracial marriage or civil rights, whatever it was, it’s all led to where we are today,” he continued. “And now it’s gay rights. And it’s all the same issue even though they’re all different things. They’re all predicated on equality and treating people fairly. So I just see it from that standpoint. I see it a little bit broader than everybody else, but there’s always been someone that’s been discriminated against. And we’re just trying to tackle one issue at a time. Right now it’s the time for gay rights and it’s time for them to be treated equally and for everybody be treated fairly, in the name of love.”
Life occasionally hands people a platform from which to speak, and it’s telling to note how he’s chosen to use the platform he has earned.
He decided to stand up for other people, when, let’s face it, he didn’t have to do that. Not one person would have criticized him for staying silent about gay civil rights. But he went there, anyway.
With straight football players like him stepping up the way they are, we’re afraid they’re in the process of killing the gay guy’s capacity to be cynical.