As more NFL players are coming out, their own union is showing support for gay rights by selling LGBT pride T-shirts on its website, in honor of LGBT Pride Month.
Homosexuality in professional sports has been a hot topic this year, ever since former 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris was outed in January via legal proceedings and the reaction from current 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, just before the Super Bowl: “I don’t do the gay guys, man.”
Since then, a handful of other pro athletes have come out, including NBA veteran Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers of Major League Soccer. Of course, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe (now with Seattle Reign FC) officially came out last summer before the London Olympics, but her announcement didn’t get widespread attention.
Here in the fairly tolerant Pacific Northwest, homosexuality in pro sports does not seem like a big deal. But elsewhere in the U.S., this recent trend has sent ripples through the world of sports.
The shirts feature a rainbow-colored NFL Players Association logo and a “#PRIDE” hashtag on the front. For the back, football fans can choose from the jersey numbers of nine NFL players, all of whom have elected to put their names on display for the advancement of LGBT rights and awareness.
The players are: free-agent linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin, former Broncos cornerback Domonique Foxworth, former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, former Saints safety Steve Gleason, free-agent linebacker Chris Gocong, Raiders punter Chris Kluwe, Redskins wide receiver Donte Stallworth, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and free-agent offensive tackle Eric Winston.
“It’s pretty simple for me,” Gleason said in an NFLPA statement. “I believe all people are created equal, regardless of their sexuality. To promote respect and acceptance is an important role for NFL players and the NFLPA.”