I'm a 49ers football fan, and I am tired of the homophobia that I've been seeing in the NFL. It amazes me to hear anti-gay remarks from any professional player, and it astounds me to see players disown themselves from their team's landmark It Gets Better video to help prevent LGBT teenagers from committing suicide. I am incredibly disappointed to find this display of homophobia in my own backyard, but I should also know that this homophobia has always been around in the NFL, even here in the Bay Area, and I don't need to look any farther to know this than the fact that every single gay NFL player is currently hiding behind the closet.
It's shocking that there are no openly-gay NFL players, especially when the rest of our country has moved far ahead on LGBT equality and acceptance. But the sad truth is that the American football culture has a lot of growing up to do. Baltimore Ravens player Brendan Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight supporter of marriage equality, has said that half of the NFL players think like the now-infamous Super Bowl player Chris Culliver who spoke out against gay people. There seems to be an NFL corporate fear that their fans -- those who support their teams with their wallets in buying game tickets and jerseys and watching the games on T.V. -- would turn on the league if one of the players comes out, whether this fan homophobia is perceived or real, or both. And more importantly, this homophobia spreads beyond the football world into the rest of our lives, and as a result, our children, all of them, not just those who are LGBT, face this homophobia head-on, and they get hurt and get discouraged from wanting to play the game.
That's why this football homophobia can't be ignored. It's why I started the Change.org petition to ask the San Francisco 49ers to join the It Gets Better Project, and it's why I can't stop this fight against homophobia. And there is no greater way to fight this homophobia, than for the players to come out.
There is no reason for any NFL player to stay in the closet, whether it's a closet to hide their sexual identity or a closet to hide their support for their LGBT teammates. There is no reason for any kind of culture or environment to strip away the dignity and freedom of any player. There is certainly no reason to think that the NFL economy will suffer at the hands of an openly-gay player. And there is absolutely no reason for anyone, especially our kids, to suffer at the hands of football homophobia. As Martin Luther King once said, "the time is always right to do what is right", and the time has come for everyone to take a stand, speak out and be heard.
So let it be known that I stand for an openly-gay NFL player, and I call for everyone to join me, so we can stand together and be counted in front of the National Football League. To show that we are not nearly as homophobic as the league might believe, and to show that we have their backs when a player comes out of the NFL closet. The greatest power can always be found among the people, and it's only when we all come out, stand up and do the right thing, that this change will come.
And to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, please join us in standing for an openly-gay NFL player, and please do what it takes to open the NFL closer door, including publicly speaking about the importance of having an openly-gay player in the NFL and the league's acceptance of a such a player when that day comes.