Recently, free-agent linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been backpedaling more than a cornerback. After suggesting this his support for same-sex marriage was a factor in his release by the Ravens, Ayanbadejo quickly said it wasn’t. Now, not long after explaining that four gay players are considering coming out at the same time, Ayanbadejo says they aren’t.
Via Outsports.com, that was the upshot of Ayanbadejo’s Friday night appearance with Anderson Cooper of CNN.
“No, actually, what it is is, is there are organizations I’m in contact with, and there are individuals I’m in contact with and collectively we know of some gay players,” Ayanbadejo said when asked if he knows the names of the four gay players who are considering coming out. “And these players, some of them are anonymous, some of them we know who they are, but their identity is super secret and nobody wants to reveal who they are, and some of them don’t want to reveal who they are, rightfully so because it’s entirely up to them what they are going to do. What we want to facilitate is getting them all together so they can lean on each other, so they can have a support group. And potentially it’s possible, it’s fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, break a story together.”
Apart from Ayanbadejo’s chronic inability to get his facts straight, he has an increasingly obvious desire to see one or more gay players come out. Gay players wrestling with this intensely personal decision easily could perceive that they are merely pawns in a much broader agenda being driven by straight players and/or members of the media who believe that the time has come for closeted gay players to be openly gay. As former NFL player Wade Davis, who is openly gay, tells Outsports.com, “The problem is that you have straight people speaking on the behalf of these closeted gay athletes, instead of letting the gay athletes speak for themselves.”
There’s a fine line between providing support and applying pressure. While having multiple gay players come out at once would reduce the distraction created by one gay player coming out, if none of them choose to come out, that’s their business. Ultimately, we believe people should be allowed to be who they are, and who they choose to be. That includes straight, gay, and closeted. If a gay player simply doesn’t want to come out, that’s his prerogative — and no one gay or straight should be trying to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do.