Are Gay Men Finally Being Accepted In Sports?May 21, 2011 No Comments
In certain more artistic professions it’s socially acceptable to be gay, but what if you’re a sportscaster for one of the biggest sports media companies in the world?
Jared Max, an ESPN-1050 sportscaster, is a man who knows the trials and tribulations of leading a double life. While he may be openly gay in front of his close family and friends, coming out of the closet 16 years ago, it was a different story to come out to the sports world. Casting apprehension aside, Max has gathered up some guts and revealed his “gargantuan size secret.”
Max has kept his secret for so long, living his professional life as a sports fan and “guy’s guy.” He always knew what he would be up against if he was to fulfill his dream of becoming a sportscaster — I’m no sports industry insider, but I bet he can’t even remember all of the gay jokes and comments he’s heard over the years from sports stars and industry people.
So why come out now?
Not only is being gay in New York gaining steam as the gay community pushes for the state legalization of same-sex marriage, but two other men in the sports world have recently come out as well. The Phoenix Suns CEO Rick Welts and former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan have faced the music and came out in the last couple of weeks. Max is riding on some serious momentum. Maybe “gay” and “sports” can have a relationship after all.
Whether he’s riding on the coattails of this momentum or not, Max has bravely done what no man has done before. The list is long of people who have come out publicly, including Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Lance Bass, Ricky Martin, Cynthia Nixon, etc., but this is an unprecedented move in an industry that’s always been wrapped up in stereotypes of masculinity.
If you’re gay, in the arts and living a public life, of course it’s still difficult to come out, especially when we still assume people are straight until proven gay, but Max has had to come out in a more hostile and less tolerant environment. It’s more like exposing yourself as a deer in a pack of wolves.
Luckily, he has teamed up with two other deer and hasn’t yet been attacked. The feedback has been mainly positive, indicating that there may be shifting attitudes towards being gay in the sports community.
Or maybe it’s just that Max is so highly respected in the industry. People know him and love him — gay or straight.
But for the sports-scape at large, this is huge. Max is a trailblazer that could impact millions of other people in the industry whether they’re reporters, sportscasters, producers, coaches, CEOs or (gulp…) sports stars.
No matter what profession you’re in, you shouldn’t have to live in the dark.
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