For the second time in just as many months, a high profile football player has made an ignorant comment about having a gay man on their team. First it was San Francisco 49ers cornerback, Chris Culliver, who made anti-gay-teammate comments during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. His comments were met with a quick rebuttal from the 49ers organization, which led to an apology from Culliver.
Despite the rash of rumors that have been being spread since January, it appears to that Culliver is not alone in his thoughts on the subject. The latest player to add his voice to the anti-gay sentiment is LSU running back, Alfred Blue.
Blue recently came out with his own thoughts on the matter, saying that there is no place for a gay man in a locker room.
“Football is supposed to be this violent sport — this aggressive sport that grown men are supposed to play,” said senior LSU running back Alfred Blue. “Ain’t no little boys out here between them lines. So if you gay, we look at you as a sissy. You know? Like, how you going to say you can do what we do and you want a man?”
These comments come just days behind the WNBA’s first overall draft pick, Brittney Griner, coming out to the national media about her sexuality. There seems to be very little issue within the women’s locker rooms over gay teammates. As Skylar Diggins told SI.com’s Maggie Grey, “We like Brittany because she’s herself…it has to do with basketball or how you play the game”
This sentiment is echoed in a sense by LSU sophomore quarterback Stephen Rivers, who says, “If he can play for LSU, he will play for LSU.”
Saying that a person would be judged by their ability, and not their sexual preferences, sounds good coming from Diggins, but feels like a stretch when heard from Rivers. The reason for this is likely the relaxed view America seems to have on lesbians as opposed to gay men. This is not to say that the lesbian community has it easy, but rather that their relationships do not offend the sensibilities of the heterosexual American male the way a relationship between two men does.
For football players, the locker room is a place of macho personas and hyped up bravado. There are showers and the changing of clothes, leaving the men in varying stages of undress. A gay man in this setting would cause a certain level of discomfort within the locker room by itself. Add to that the hetero (over) sensitivity to anything that could make them look, or feel, gay, and you have an unyielding resistance towards gays in football.
Whether this intolerance will continue, or whether acceptance will work its way into a male locker room remains to be seen. Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots recently came out in support of having open gays in the NFL locker room. It may not be much of a surprise coming from a free spirited fellow like Gronk, but he is just one of a growing number of players willing to accept a player for his ability rather than his personal life.