Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay player in men's Division I college basketball last week when he came out in interviews with ESPN and Outsports, but his announcement didn't get as much attention as similar relevations from other athletes.
That is in part because Gordon, a guard at the University of Massachusetts, isn't a big-name player on a big-ticket team, and in part because these announcements just aren't as big a deal as they used to be, says Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
"When you look at Michael Sam, the football player from [the University of Missouri] who recently came out, and Jason Collins from the NBA, there was an enormous amount of publicity, but as more people are going to come out, this is a good indicator that it's no longer as big of a story, it's not as novel as it once was," Besen told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
A bigger story will be when a superstar athlete, an All-Star-caliber player, or a player on a championship-level team comes out, Besen said Monday. He said the culture of locker rooms is changing so that players who come out are more likely to be accepted, if not embraced, by teammates.
It still remains harder for marginal athletes to reveal to their teammates, coaches, and the media that they are gay because of potential retaliation from management, and Besen said that if he were a player of that caliber – struggling to stay on a team – he "would have to think long and hard" about coming out.
But public attitudes are changing quickly enough that Besen thinks the day isn't far off when coming out will no longer be a point of discussion.
"We're going to see stories that are more like that, where there isn't a coming-out process, so to speak, they've just always been that way, and people that know they were gay from high school, college and of course, from there until the pros," he said.
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