Welcome to the launch of The Last Closet—a campaign to end homophobia in men’s professional sport.
Our lofty tagline merits explanation. Ending any social ill is a long process and we are realistic in our goals. What we are aiming for is a sea change much like Jackie Robinson provided when he became the first African American to play in a major league. Sports has the power to facilitate that kind of transformation within its own boundaries, as well as in the culture at large. Jackie Robinson’s brave first step moved the Civil Rights Movement into the collective conscience of the American people—whether they were sports fans or not.
It is quite clear to us that a pro athlete coming out would create a similar groundbreaking movement for sports and gay rights. But how to create an environment that would support that trailblazer and encourage him to take the leap?
The Last Closet campaign sets out to do just that, joining a growing grassroots movement to make all levels of sports inclusive for all. We feel that it is not necessarily the responsibility of the closeted athlete to step out onto the precipice. He is faced with a host of fears that are either valid, or vestiges of a culture that now seems to be accelerating towards tolerance. In either case, we want to understand the current zeitgeist. We have already started to collect in-depth interviews with important contributors to the sports culture and are now moving into uncharted territory. As we move closer to the top of the sports hierarchy, we have been meeting significantly more resistance.
The commissioners of the five major sports have either deflected or outright refused our repeated requests for interviews. Their silence is emblematic of the problem at hand: no athlete has ever come out publicly while actively playing in any of the major sports and no one wants to talk about why.
Our first campaign targets each of these men and encourages them to go on record, via a video interview, to answer these two questions: “Will you invite your gay players to come out?” and “What safety net will you have in place for them once they do?”
We encourage you to help us achieve the first of our campaign goals – Please send a letter to any or all of these men and let them know you would like to hear from them. It’s a simple click-and-send operation.
If you’d like to compose your own prose, make a call, or tweet to the commissioners, you are welcome to do so. We provide the contact information.
Make sure to visit our Video Page and see this month’s “Featured Video” to hear NFL Hall-of-Famer Michael Irvin speak candidly about his gay brother and the influence he’s had on his life and career.
On this blog and our other social media platforms, we encourage lively discourse, comments, suggestions, content ideas, as well as feedback about the site.
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Of course, we are always happy to receive monetary contributions which are tax-deductible and very much appreciated.
Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life. – Jackie Robinson