Jallen Messersmith comes out, a first for the Men’s Basketball College LeagueBreaking News, Online Only, Top Highlights Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Add Jallen Messersmith to the small but growing number of athletes that are taking their first steps out of the sexual closet and into the world of professional sports. Last month, Jason Collins, a center for the Washington Wizards, announced to the world that, yes, he is gay (and black and male) in an eloquent piece for Sports Illustrated making him the first gay male athlete in a professional sports franchise in North America to come out. Of course athletes have been coming out for some time – boxer Orlando Cruz, Olympic gold-medalist Seimone Augustus and mixed martial arts fighter, Jessica Aguilar. But few have done so under the high stakes, multi-million gun of the American sports franchise.
So when Messersmith came out, he noted rather eloquently that what Justin did was more that an act of bravery but a step forward for those hundreds (possibly thousands) of athletes trapped inside. ”The big thing for me, why I wanted to do it, before the whole Jason Collins thing, is there weren’t a lot of basketball-related stories like this,” Messersmith said. ”When I started coming out, I didn’t have anyone to look to for advice or to see how their story went. People can look to see what happened to me — and there are positive things going on.”
Messersmith’s coming out was far less theatric. He spoke with his coach first, then the other players then came out in an interview with Out Sports.com, a magazine devoted to LGBTQ issues within sports. And since this whole process is new for athletes, culture hasn’t quite figured out just the right level of “coming out” in an area of life that has been indoctrinated into our collective psyches for a very long time.
You’ll recall a Snickers ad during the Superbowl when, after having no bites left to chew, the two men realized they were kissing and then one began violently beating up the other. Snickers has since apologized but for the closeted athlete , the damage had long been done.
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