Howard Bragman: Helping Athletes Out…of the Closet

Outsports has a chat with publicist Howard Bragman, who has helped a series of high-profile athletes transition from closeted to openly gay in the public spotlight. This has made Bragman the “go-to” guy for jocks on the way “out”. Bragman’s clients have included Esera Tuaolo, Rosie Jones, Sheryl Swoopes, and most recently former NBA player John Amaechi. He has also been hired by Isaiah Washington to help the actor clean up after the Grey’s Anatomy F-word incident.

Howard_bragmanBragman discusses how the John Amaechi story unfolded: “I was working backward from the date of ESPN the magazine and the book coming out. Then Leigh Steinberg calls me a week before the Super Bowl and asks, ‘will you go to Florida and do P.R. for my party?’ Here you put a publicist at a Super Bowl party, and there are 25 journalists there, and my eyes light up, and I say, ‘Guys, I’ve got a big story. In a couple weeks, I’ve got a former NBA player coming out of the closet.’ And they started writing about it virally. And that Wednesday is one of those days you never forget. His identity was out there, and I had a real fear that the story would go away, but ironically a lot of media outlets who said they weren’t sure when I pitched the book, as soon as it went viral, they had to have it. And then it just went ballistic after that.”

He also says he doesn’t think he could ever rep Tim Hardaway: “I don’t think I would. And I say that as the guy who reps Isaiah Washington. Because it’s got to be about more than just the money for me. And before I signed Isaiah, we talked for a couple hours. We knew people in common, and I really feel like he screwed up, but I think it was a screw up instead of being a homophobe. I look at the situation where the guy has played gay roles in his career. And I think somebody who’s truly homophobic wouldn’t do that. But Tim Hardaway’s a little different for me. I like to be someplace I’m proud of, in representation. With Isaiah, we have a chance to talk, to have a real dialogue. He’s really beautifully positioned to have a real dialogue.”

Much more over at Outsports