It’s a question for the ages: In a society where one in 10 (or 20, depending on who you ask) people are gay, how many gay men are there in the National Football League? There have to be some gay players, right? At this point, we can say that there was at least one — Wade Davis sat down with Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation to discuss what it’s like to live a lie, in exchange for living a dream.
The hyper-masculine athletes who make up the NFL are perceived (many times rightly so) to be not so friendly towards gays. So for a guy like Davis, who played in preseason games for the Titans, Redskins and Seahawks, it became an issue of weighing what he loved (football) against who he loved (other men). Though he never made a regular season roster, Davis felt incredible pressure to conform to the straight standards he felt were being set for him — going as far as to drop $1,500 at a strip club to prove his mettle.
Davis, who now works at the Hetrick-Martin Institute serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth, perfectly exemplifies the struggle that many unnamed athletes go through as a gay competitor. The most powerful part of the conversation starts the 4:20 mark, when Davis is asked whether gay players should come out to their team. At first he says no, if they want to keep their job — but after a visible internal conflict, he changes his mind. Even for people like Davis, questions of whether gay athletes can be true to themselves remain.
Bravo, Mr. Davis.