Swoopes comes out, and the world is a slightly better place for it

By Jason Wojciechowski on October 26, 2005 at 7:53 PM

Bill Simmons will probably find it in himself to make at least fourteen jokes about this, but I'm happy that Sheryl Swoopes has come out in an interview with ESPN The Magazine that's out today.

The more prominent and successful who come out, I think, the more closeted people have role models to follow, and the more we can have an open society that promotes acceptance.

It is, however, no coincidence that the first major athlete to come out while still an active player is a woman. It's obvious and commonly known that lesbians are more accepted than gay men, due to the popular "inversion" theory that many people (incorrectly) believe in about homosexuality: lesbians are "more masculine" women and gay men are "more feminine" men. In a patriarchal society such as ours, it's better (in the sense of societal advantages) to be more masculine than feminine, so of course lesbians are better-regarded than gay men.

This preference for masculinity (and thus discrimination against gay men) will only be magnified in the macho world of men's sports.

I worry about the potential backlash against Swoopes, and hope that her teammates don't do anything bigoted like demand separate showers or something.

UPDATE: Off Wing Opinion, one of the better sports blogs around, has some comments on the topic, and mentions Bill Simmons also. See also Deadspin with a note that the timing (toward the end of Swoopes's career) makes this less important than it might be otherwise; OutSports also has a story that includes a couple of quotes from ex-NFL player Esera Tuaolo, who came out after he retired.