Former NBA basketball player John Amaechi says that a sporting society tolerant of gay would achieve greater results in the competitive arena, but in an interview with London’s Daily Telegraph, he says he doesn’t advise gay athletes to come out.
Amaechi came out as gay in 2007, the first NBA professional ever so to do. And the response to his own decision has made him aware of what it takes publicly to announce homosexuality.
“I personally have spoken to 10, 12 current professional footballers who are gay, they exist, I promise you,” he says. “As it happens none of them have asked me if they should come out. But if they did, I would tell them not to. I’m not a gay rights activist.”
Amaechi said knows about what happens to players the moment they step out of the closet. Throughout his years in the NBA, Amaechi kept his sexuality to himself in the certain knowledge revelation would jeopardize his career.
“If nothing else, three of the States I worked in – Florida, Utah and Texas – were among the 32 where you could be fired for being gay. Gay activists often tell me if I’d come out while playing I’d have made more of a difference. It perhaps suits me not to believe that. But I honestly think I would have lost my job and what good would that have done? We don’t need any more martyrs.”
On the contrary, Amaechi is missing the point that hiding in the closet does nothing to advance LGBTQ rights, and is one of the greatest issues facing gay and lesbian community.
In fact, a 2009 Gallup Poll revealed that Americans who personally know someone who is gay or lesbian less like to oppose gay marriage or other civil rights and protections for gays and lesbians.
Bad advice, Mr. Amaechi. Why did you even bother to come out?