After 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.