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Wade Davis Talks Gays and the NFL

Former NFL player Wade Davis talks to The Daily Beast about gays and the NFL:

DavisWhen I was playing I had a partner. But he presented as straight so people would think, oh that's just his boy. There is no interrogation of people's friends. You choose very strategically when you're in the closet. You choose someone who's very masculinely presenting, who can pass as just a friend. And a lot of guys rolled with crews. So if there's four or five guys waiting on you afterwards no one's gonna know who that is. And there are other guys who don't have their partners come to the games at all.

I don't think I was afraid of getting caught. It was easier for me to exist in this cloak of secrecy. I just didn't know what to do. I didn't know what the response would be, I didn't know if it would change the team dynamic, I didn't know if I was ready to own it in front of other people, too. Cuz as long as you're denying it to yourself it's not really real. The hardest time was when I was in Barcelona [with the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe]. We were in Sitges, the second highest gay populated place in the world. So we'd be looking down at a resort beach and you see hundreds, thousands of gay men on the beach in Speedos and walking the streets shirtless and stuff. Imagine me being closeted there. It was my worst fear come true. And one thing that worked against me is my popularity. Everyone on the team liked me and that prevented me from ever being able to go out and explore alone. There'd be times I try to sneak out at night  and people would be like oh I'll go with you and I'd be like damn. Because I wanted to have a conversation with another gay men like what's your life like? But I couldn't get away. So being there was the hardest time in my life and my play suffered. I'd never played so bad because there was so many gay men. Nowhere you went there weren't lots of attractive gay men.

When asked if gays get weeded out due to homophobia before they reach the professional level, Davis adds:

If you're a gay player who can pass, and I use that word unfortunately, then no one knows. No one knew about me. And I think most players take the attitude that if they could pass they will. If they can't then most likely in high school more than college or the pros there is that weeding out process. People don't understand their own sexuality in ninth or tenth grade so you're definitely going to be resistant against someone else who you may assume is gay. There was a guy in my high school and everyone believed he was gay. They called him the Faggot [name].  If he played football he would've definitely been pushed out you don't understand it at that age. I think there are players who are out in colleges now that people probably know who are gay and if you can play most guys are like man, just play. I just think we're in a different space now.

Read the full interview here.

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Comments

  1. Really nice to have an NFL player speak out like this but it must have been an awful way to live his life. And yet it is or was pretty standard in the way many gay men and women live their lives. We have to change that and Wade is helping to do that. Big round of applause to this guy.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Jan 11, 2013 10:35:50 AM


  2. Very articulate and insightful yet plainly stated. I hope that interview gets well circulated. He's right about Sitges - I went with my boyfriend and it was a little difficult because it is a beautiful man candy store.

    Posted by: Markt | Jan 11, 2013 10:38:21 AM


  3. Brilliant guy here - funny but the problem with mainstream white gay culture is how on this blog we have two comments so far about this hero - a gay former NFL player - and his articulate and sophisticated point of view, versus about a million about the actor from GIRLS who, as far as I see, hasn't done much more than landed a role in a show and called himself 'purebred'. Tragic

    Posted by: ECCO | Jan 11, 2013 1:16:16 PM


  4. When I was in high school, I played football specifically because I could hit hard, and I could take a hit. That downplayed all the speculation around school that I was gay. Of course, showering with the whole team after practice was pretty sweet too.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jan 11, 2013 1:23:22 PM


  5. That's sort of true, Ecco. This guy should really get more attention.

    Posted by: Yupp | Jan 11, 2013 1:28:20 PM


  6. "the problem with mainstream white gay culture"

    As opposed to black gay culture, exemplified by RuPaul.

    Your observation would have been a poignant one if you had left the irrelevant matter of race out of it and pointed out that the real problem is the culture of effeminacy that causes gay men of all races to gravitate towards feminine mindsets and interests and away from their natural masculinity.

    If you want to help solve the problem, then define the problem accurately.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 11, 2013 1:34:01 PM


  7. That MIGHT be true here too, Rick. The football subject turned guys off from the article, maybe? (Or maybe it's both race and football).

    Posted by: Yupp | Jan 11, 2013 1:37:08 PM


  8. @RICK STFU Punk.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jan 11, 2013 1:57:27 PM


  9. I see it as a race thing, Yupp & Rick - I suspect if Tim Tebow or an athlete like him said the same exact thing we'd see a lot more comments.

    Posted by: ECCO | Jan 11, 2013 1:57:55 PM


  10. ECCO, please pay RICK no mind. His own culture currently flourishes at Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric ward in New York City.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 11, 2013 2:08:21 PM


  11. RICK'S phrase "culture of effeminancy" rings in my ears. It's just brilliant. Not even arch enemy KIWI has come close to such an accurately encapsulating characterization of the inauthentic learned behavior of many gay men. And drag queens like RuPaul lead this crowd of dreary clones.

    At the same time it must always be said that some men are naturally effeminant and are NOT social constructions. These guys are often sweet as can be and though they may not achieve or aspire to Alpha Male status they are as genuine and worthy as anyone, and they enrich us.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jan 11, 2013 2:25:06 PM


  12. It's a very thoughtful description of what his life was like in the NFL. It's also interesting that he talks about how "other guys" like him in the NFL handle it. Clearly he knew others dealing with the same thing.

    Gay men are probably in general less interested in sports than the average male. I sure as hell never faked an interest in them to fit in with straight peers so if you think I've going to fake an interest in it now to satisfy some moronic theory about some "culture of effeminacy" you have another think coming.

    Whether you're cheering for "your team" or oohing-and-ahhing over the latest Lady Gaga single, if you're only doing it to fit in then one is no better than the other. Neither is authentic.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 11, 2013 2:47:31 PM


  13. "Gay men are probably in general less interested in sports than the average male. I sure as hell never faked an interest in them to fit in with straight peers so if you think I've going to fake an interest in it now to satisfy some moronic theory about some "culture of effeminacy" you have another think coming"

    Why is it that you think that gay men are less interested in sports than straight men? Is it because there is a "sports gene" that is disproportionately absent in gay men? (LOL)....or is it because gay men have learned the cultural lesson at an early age that sports is a masculine interest and homosexuality equates to a lack of masculinity.....and therefore homosexuality and an interest in sports are incompatible with each other?

    And secondly, why do you believe that gay men who are interested in sports are "faking it" in order to fit in with straight men, rather than being genuinely interested in sports for exactly the same reason straight men are?

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 11, 2013 3:10:39 PM


  14. "I see it as a race thing, Yupp & Rick - I suspect if Tim Tebow or an athlete like him said the same exact thing we'd see a lot more comments"

    Tebow would get more attention because he is quite famous, not only as an athlete (won the Heisman Trophy and led his team to a national championship) and because he has become a cultural icon among the Religious Right and his coming out would be a huge media event.

    You cannot compare a low-profile guy like Davis to Tebow.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 11, 2013 3:15:15 PM


  15. just remember, there is no "culture of effeminacy" - that's a nonsense buzz-term used by Closeted adults who simply want an excuse to never grow balls and come out.

    all one need do is look at the legions of, *cough*, "ex-Gays", who continue to embody any and every perceived-gay "stereotype-ism" to see that truthful point.

    if any of the cowards who continue to drone on about a "culture of effeminacy" could put a face to their statements, they'd at least be able to claim that they're making their claims from an empowered place of Outness.

    alas, you can simply file it under "S**t Closet Cases Say"

    wade davis speaks eloquently and honestly about the ability to "pass" and i commend him for his bravery in being a real man and addressing this issue with integrity.

    kudos to everyone who has the integrity to Come Out and give a real face a name and a voice to who we are.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 11, 2013 3:20:46 PM


  16. I can relate to the "weeding out" process. As a freshman playing baseball at Pepperdine University (on a partial athletic scholarship) the head coach refused to play me at first base even though I was the best player for the position (and the school was paying for part of my education to play). It was a lesson learned on my part. I left the school and graduated elsewhere. Who knows where I would be now had I been in the closet.

    I went to a private Christian high school and was out there and had a completely wonderful experience. Socially, certain guys let me know how they felt and our coach was a pastor but I was never ostracized or cast aside. I was lucky.

    Its nice to read an interview with a former pro athlete that can articulate the unique struggle it is to be a gay athlete (in or out).

    Posted by: Dustin | Jan 11, 2013 3:42:14 PM


  17. @DUSTIN,

    thanks for your comment. It was brave of you to be an OUT student athlete at Pepperdine. Every out Gay person has some story of courage to tell. Sometimes they don't consider it a big deal, but it is to others.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 11, 2013 3:53:54 PM


  18. UFFDA: "RICK'S phrase "culture of effeminancy" rings in my ears. It's just brilliant. Not even arch enemy KIWI has come close to such an accurately encapsulating characterization of the inauthentic learned behavior of many gay men. And drag queens like RuPaul lead this crowd of dreary clones."

    Probably because you're two aliases of the same single troll. Which we all already knew.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jan 11, 2013 5:27:28 PM


  19. Hey I wonder if this guy Rick is out to his family,friends,coworkers,etc

    Posted by: Kim | Jan 11, 2013 5:52:22 PM


  20. Pay attention to MATEOM. He is omniscient.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jan 12, 2013 1:55:09 AM


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