Wade Davis Hub




Gay Former NFL Player Wade Davis Talks Love, Acceptance, and Coming Out: LISTEN

DavisAfter retiring from the Washington Redskins in 2003 and coming out of the closet in 2012, Wade Davis Jr. found his second wind becoming a vocal advocate for LGBT tolerance within the world of professional sports. Before becoming executive director of the You Can Play Project, Davis worked at the the assistant director of job readiness at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an organization focused on imparting life skills to LGBT youth. In a recent interview with Jake Sasseville, Davis describes his journey to becoming one of the most visible, openly gay veterans of American football.

"I did not want anyone to think I was gay, I started to perform more hetero norms of masculinity.” Davis said of his time playing professionally. “I would go to strip clubs and when I did go to nightclubs, I made sure I left with a female. I was looking at my identity through the eyes of others."

More than feeling actively ostracized by the overwhelmingly heterosexual culture of the NFL, Davis felt lulled into a somewhat false sense of safety. The performative aspect of his closeted-ness was both a necessary part of  meshing with his teams’ familial dynamic, but also of meeting societal expectations.

“When you look at me, Jason Collins or Michael Sam, we show up with a certain type of masculinity that is typically accepted in this country. We can walk into a room and you'll think those guys are probably straight. We must make sure that any person can show up with any level of masculinity and be accepted."

Listen to Wade Davis Jr.’s full interview with Jake Sasseville AFTER THE JUMP...

Earlier this month, former football pro Dave Kopay also opened up about his experience being gay in the NFL (albeit in the 1960s). Check out his story HERE

Continue reading "Gay Former NFL Player Wade Davis Talks Love, Acceptance, and Coming Out: LISTEN " »


David Tyree To Wade Davis: 'I Would Support A Gay Player'

WadeThe newly named director of player development for the New York Giants, David Tyree, a former National Organization for Marriage (NOM) spokesman who has a history of making anti-gay remarks, reportedly told Wade Davis, Executive Director of The You Can Play Project, he would support “any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way [he] could.” According to NBC Sports, Davis shared Tyree's disclosure on his blog, TheMMQB.com. Davis, a former NFL player himself, recently opened up about his experience living in the closet while being a professional football player. 

Towleroad readers will remember that Tyree attracted attention for his remarks on marriage equality, saying equality would signal “the beginning of our country sliding toward…anarchy” and that it would “be the moment our society loses its grip with what is right.” A previous advocate for gay conversion therapy, Tyree also once said that, "I don't want my kids to think homosexuals are normal.” 

TyreeDavis says he has engaged in an extended conversation with Tyree, one he says suggests that Tyree has already changed his views on many issues having to do with the LGBT community. Davis admits that he was not at first inclined to cut Tyree any slack for his previous anti-gay remarks. However, upon meeting Tyree at an event to educate players, coaches and management on LGBT issues, Davis was caught off guard by how he was greeted:

He approached me, introduced himself, offered his hand and said, “I want you to know I really respect what you do.” After having the opportunity to speak with David, I realized he is on a journey when it comes to understanding the LGBT community. He is evolving. Just as my mother did. Just as some of our most well-known supporters did. Just as I did.

During the current media firestorm surrounding Giants’ hiring of David, I paused to reflect on my initial resistance toward him and asked myself, Can we create the space for all individuals to evolve? […]

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd37ca54970b-300wiLet me be very clear: I am not defending the hurtful things David said in the past. Nor am I saying his journey is complete. I am strongly defending his right, his ability, and most importantly his apparent willingness to grow as a person. And I will be working closely with him to help him along on this journey. I am hopeful that the outcome will be a positive one.

I spoke with David last night, and he asked me to quote him in this piece. He said, “My interactions with Wade over the past few months are much more representative of my current beliefs toward the gay community than some tweets from several years ago. Christianity teaches us love, compassion, and respect for our fellow man, and it is in that light that I will continue to work with Wade and others to better serve the gay community. I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could. And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that.”

As I come to learn more about David and begin a deeper friendship with him, I’m going to talk to him about the serious and vile treatment that is conversion therapy—of which he has been a vocal proponent—and how those words have been the source of destruction for many LGBT individuals. But those honest and productive conversations can’t be had without first building a foundation for a relationship to rest on [...] We will be able to talk about how to support LGBT players. We will be able to talk about how his faith encourages him to be loving and inclusive of the LGBT community. We will be able to talk about why the things he has said were so hurtful to so many people. We will, simply put, be able to talk to each other despite our differences. And we will be able to support each other as we continue to do the most important work, the work that we must do on ourselves.

You can read Davis' full post on Tyree HERE


National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame Announces New Inductees

HallofFameSideProof3It's been almost a year since the first-ever inductees of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame were honored in Chicago. Included were big-name athletes such as Billie Jean King, Greg Louganis, Jason Collins, and Johnny Weir.

This year, on July 11, a new crop of athletes and organizations will be honored in The Windy City. Among them will be: baseball player William ‘Billy’ Bean of the San Diego Padres, British diver Tom Daley, and rugby player Mark Bingham — who is known both as the namesake of the Bingham Cup and for his tragic death on United 93 in the 9/11 attacks.

Football fans will note the absence of NFL newbie Michael Sam. While Sam is still green in his career, it's worth noting that the list includes three former NFL players who came out as gay after their time in the league ended: Esera Tuaolo, Wade Davis, and Jerry Smith (deceased 1986, a casualty of the AIDS epidemic).

While some of the most visible inductees are LGBT athletes, organizations (e.g. Nike) and sports businesspeople are also included. As are straight allies — deceased San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (portrayed by Victor Garber in Milk) is also included in the list. The complete "roster" of inductees, via GNN:


John Amaechi, retired NBA player;
 Mark Bingham, rugby player (deceased); Tom Daley, Olympic medal winning diver
; Wade Davis, executive director of You Can Play and retired NFL player
; Fallon Fox, mixed martial artist
; Brittney Griner, decorated collegiate athlete, active WNBA player
; Mayor George Moscone, straight ally, former Mayor of San Francisco (deceased)
; Chris Mosier, founder of transathlete.com
; Nike, corporation
; Diana Nyad, endurance swimmer
; Jerry Smith, NFL player (deceased)
; Stand Up Foundation, anti-bullying non-profit organization
; Gareth Thomas, retired rugby player
; Esera Tuaolo, retired NFL player.


Out Former Football Player Wade Davis Opens Up About Being Gay In The NFL: VIDEO

Wade2

With Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, former NFL player Wade Davis, who publicly came out in 2012, almost a decade after he retired from the sport, is sharing what it was like being a closeted gay black man in the NFL in the early 2000s. In an interview with Al Jazeera America Davis tells how football provided a mask that helped him hide his sexual orientation: “No one ever questioned me as being a gay male because I played football.” Davis went on to say that, for him, coming out while he was still an active player was never an option:

It was something that I really never even thought about. I thought that it was not possible for someone to be a gay male and play the sport of football…It was something that I kind of was domesticated to believe from the age of 7 on up, that football and being gay just didn’t mix.

Wade3Davis, the Executive Director of the 'You Can Play Project', a group working to support LGBT rights and fight homophobia in sports, recently spoke with league coaches and general managers in the NFL about homophobia and how to tackle problems that could arise from having a gay player in the locker room. For his part, Davis explains that the locker room and in particular the showers never provided him with any difficulties:

Well, first of all, most guys look terrible naked, right? [Laughs.] Secondly, those are my brothers. I tell people often, if you put a man in a locker room with women, there’s a chance that he may be excited or aroused. But if those women are his sisters, there is no attraction there.

And so my teammates were my brothers. So, whether they were naked or not didn’t really matter to me.

Davis also delved into why being an openly gay football player might be different than being an out individual in other sports:


I think that football is like this sport that we deem as these gladiator superhuman men, right? I think that the way that we view men and masculinity really plays a role in that. So this idea that someone who can be gay and play this hypermasculine sport, people often think that those two things can’t coexist. I think that there is shortsightedness in the way that we look at men and also in the way that we look at sports. I do a lot of work with the NFL, and I do say that football is about toughness and masculinity and combat. But there are also even higher levels of family, of solidarity, of compassion that people don’t talk about when they think about sports. If you watch a game on Sunday now, as soon as the player gets hurt, you’ll see players from both teams come around and start saying a prayer. After a game, win or lose, there are guys who shake hands, they hug. These are gentlemen who exist in a very violent sport, but the love and the passion that they have for the sport and for each other is actually greater than those other aspects of it. 

Perhaps most poignantly, Davis offers some advice to young LGBT athletes: “Don’t let the love of your sport overshadow the need to love yourself.”

You can watch Parts 1 and 2 of Davis’ interview with Al Jazeera America, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "Out Former Football Player Wade Davis Opens Up About Being Gay In The NFL: VIDEO" »


Gay Former NFL Player Wade Davis Speaks to Coaches, General Managers on Homophobia, Locker Rooms

Gay former NFL player Wade Davis offered a "powerful presentation" to league coaches and general managers on Monday dealing with homophobia, sexual orientation, and gays in the locker room, Outsports reports:

DavisFrom all reports his presentation was incredibly well-received, with "many" coaches and GMs approaching Davis with praise after the meeting. Various folks from Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to San Diego Chargers head coach Mike Mccoy thanked him for a unique, powerful presentation that opened eyes.

Davis's intent was to debunk stereotypes:

"I told them they have to be intentional from day one," Davis said of the NFL teams' next steps. "They can't just talk about 'diversity,' they have to talk about addressing 'diversity and that specifically includes sexual orientation."

Davis said one of the key elements of his talk was humor. He created a running joke through his presentation about current St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher cutting him. Twice. The room ate it up. Davis wanted to lighten the mood to demonstrate no one has to tip-toe around the issues on their teams: Gay players have senses of humor too.

"Wade nailed it," Fisher said after the meeting. He was glowing in his praise of Davis' talked, saying he'll consider bringing him to talk to his team later this year.

NFL owners are set to hear from Davis on Tuesday morning.


NFL Players Reach Out to LGBT Youth in 'High Five Initiative'

The 'You Can Play Project' has announced the 'High Five Initiative', a collaboration that will see, in its first project, NFL players interacting one-one-one with LGBT youth, the group announced:

VincentThe initiative will have a soft launch with former NFL players and NFL player engagement executives Troy Vincent (pictured) and Dwight Hollier visiting New York City's Hetrick Martin Institute (HMI), one of the nation's oldest and largest LGBT organizations. The HMI provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth social support and programming ranging from arts and culture to academic enrichment to job readiness.

After today, both organizations will continue to work together to expand the initiative during the 2014 NFL season and have current and former players visit other organizations nationwide.

The project is the first initiative from the group's executive director, former NFL player Wade Davis.

Said Davis: “We believe that the power of story telling is a transformative experience that helps to broaden and foster our understanding of one another. We hope through these one-on-one interactions youth will see they are welcomed in sports."

Added the group:

The name “High Five” for the initiative is important as well, because Glenn Burke, former MLB player and gay male, is credited with inventing the “High Five” and further cementing the connection between LGBT individuals and sports.

“Our goal at You Can Play beyond creating safe spaces for LGBT individuals, is to change the singular narrative that exist about sports. If youth only hear that sports is about toughness, masculinity and violence, some may choose not to play. But when youth learn the true essence of sports is family, solidarity and compassion for all participants, then we will see more youth, especially LGBT youth, understand sports is a place for them,” said Davis.


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