The referee writes:
One of my first years as an official I was on a football playoff crew headed to northwest Louisiana for a game, a four-hour drive away. Somehow the conversation in the van turned to gay rights. I had to listen to the guys rant and rave about how it is an abomination.
“F*gs are what’s wrong with this country.”
“I don’t see what’s so desirable about a man’s as*.”
“How can a real man not want to be with a beautiful babe?”
“There is something wrong with them, probably was abused growing up.”
The unceasingly onslaught of homophobic slurs has filled him with a great deal of fear and shame over the years:
It’s hit me over the years that just the perception of being gay can be career-ending for a football official in my area. It seems no one wants to associate with a gay guy or be anywhere around one. Because there aren’t any laws in place barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, there is nothing stopping it, especially for independent contractors like high school football officials.
The piece, which should be read in full, ends with the referee longing to leave his post, if not leave Louisiana altogether:
I have thought about leaving Louisiana many times, but various things have kept me here, from family to work. It always seems as if I’m just not meant to leave. Now that we have marriage equality, I know things will continue to change. I know people will become more accepting. I’ve even started coming out to close friends and family members.
I know when I do come out completely I won’t have to spend my time trying to hide my sexuality. I can instead use that energy to help make myself a better official. But until this homophobia is dealt with out in the open, Louisiana high school officiating will never get better.