Athletic Supporters

Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens. NoH8 is the pro-gay marriage campaign that arose after the Mormon-led Proposition 8 took away equal marriage in California.

[Language warning: The attached letter includes some wonderfully pungent obscenities.]

Professional sports is a holdout of our old culture of homophobia, so it is lovely to see change arriving, even there. For Spirit Day 2012, a day in October when people wear purple in solidarity with LGBT youth and against bullying, America’s six major sports leagues all joined in: The National Basketball Association (NBA) / Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS) and NASCAR.

On a more individual level, The Huffington Post just ran an article highlighting 22 straight professional athletes who are outspoken allies of the LGBT community, including people like Charles Barkley, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the adorable Ben Cohen. (Sadly it is formatted in one of those insufferable slideshows. ) They also had to go global to get that many names. It hurts our allies are so thin on the athletic grounds, but good to see it is starting to change.

NFL players like Texans linebacker Connor Barwin and New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie have come strongly for equal rights, but the ripest support came from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.

Kluwe was responding to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. attempt to silence Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. Ayanbadejo spoke out in support of equal marriage for gay people in Maryland, and Burns sent a letter to the Raven’s owner saying, among other things, “I am requesting you take the action necessary […] to inhibit such expressions from your employee…”

Clearly Burns is not a bright man. It also hurts when a black politician writes on official government letterhead that political expression “has no place in sport.” The irony reels.

With that setup, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s responded to Burns with steaming intellect and righteous anger. It is eviscerating, and a joy to read.

Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,


I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):


1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.


2. “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who’s “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).


3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)


I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?


In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.


Chris Kluwe


P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

The Gay Origins of the High Five

The High Five is oh-so gay, and not in the disparaging teenage sense of the word. The high five is rightly associated with sports, and with one of the earliest out gay athletes, baseball player Glenn Burke.

On October 2, 1977, Burke was a charismatic and popular player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where a crowded stadium watched… As ESPN tells it:

It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros’ J.R. Richard. It was Baker’s 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers — Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith — with at least 30 homers each. It was a wild, triumphant moment and a good omen as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” says Baker, now 62 and managing the Reds. “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

Burke then stepped up and launched his first major league home run. And as he returned to the dugout, Baker high-fived him. From there, the story goes, the high five went ricocheting around the world. (According to Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, the game was not televised, and no footage survives.)

Burke was the hero of the Dodgers, and their charismatic soul, but he also had a relationship of unspecified intimacy with Tommy Lasorda’s embarrassment of an effeminate son. The Dodger’s traded Burke to the Oakland A’s in a weak trade designed mostly to get rid of him.

Burke retired in 1980, after some frustrating years. He then became a fixture in the Castro, known for sitting on whatever car was in front of the Pendulum bar giving high fives…a great image.

The full story from ESPN and another article in the Los Angeles Times.