In a groundbreaking announcement for men’s professional team sports, Phoenix Suns president and chief executive Rick Welts, has come out, reported The New York Times on Sunday.
Welts, 58, who has spent 40 years in sports, rising from ball boy to NBA executive to team president, reveals intimate details about being a closeted gay man in professional sports, the death of his partner from AIDS complications, and the ending of another 14-year relationship due to living life in the shadows.
Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic.
“This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” said Welts, who stands now as a true rarity, a man prominently employed in professional men’s team sports, willing to declare his homosexuality. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”
“The fact that there’s no other man who has done this before speaks directly to how hard it must be for Rick to do this now,” said Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.