This article was published on July 19th, 2021
Sports have had heterosexuality imposed upon them, which has led to homophobia. However, with increased acceptance for the LGBT community, we are beginning to see more pro athletes come out of the closet and declare their sexuality.
This representation is excellent in advancing our community and showing that sports are inclusive and welcome people of all walks of life. Sports bring us together and create a sense of belonging within a community. Society is beginning to show more acceptance of our community, and these pro athletes have noticed.
This year glass ceilings have been shattered in the world of Hockey. 2020-2021 have played host to numerous athletes coming out of the closet. One of the most prominent players to recently come out is Luke Prokop.
Luke Prokop, a national hockey league player from Edmonton, Alberta, became the first openly gay player contracted to the NHL.
In his announcement on Instagram he said, “From a young age, I have dreamed of being an N.H.L. player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.”
It seems as though this sport might be headed for a future that is ripe with inclusion. The N.H.L.’s response to the player coming out was swift and positive.
This is not a surprise considering the NHL has worked to increase inclusivity on many occasions by raising initiatives such as Hockey is for Everyone and working in collaboration with You Can Play – an organization dedicated to the safety and inclusion of anyone who plays sports. You Can Play extends this mission to LGBTQ athletes and fans and even results in occasional team Pride Nights.
In football, we see the same shift towards inclusivity and another first for the sports league. This is very promising for our community.
Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, announced on Instagram from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, that he is gay. he also added that he is a fairly private person, but “representation is so important.” On top of this, he said he would donate $100,000 to a suicide prevention service dedicated to LGBTQ youth.
The public received the announcement so well that this sixth-year player received national attention for his actions towards helping us all feel included. President Joe Biden tweeted, “To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”
The NFL accepted him with open arms, and he received a warm embrace of acceptance from Jon Gruden. “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” Gruden told ESPN.
The NFL released a statement of respect for Nassib by stating, “NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth. Representation matters, and we share his hope that someday soon statements like these will not be newsworthy.”
Sports have been a topic of discussion relating to the gay community for many years. We still have some ways to make sure that all of our community can compete in sports without oppression. However, as more pro athletes come out of the closet and talk about their preferences, the stigma faced with slowly fades away.
Representation and inclusion are essential, so as more pro athletes open up and show they are with us, we will continue to support and cheer them on from the sidelines. We should take the chance to thank them for helping us be more welcome in areas that have been a bit more closed off in the past.