Former NFL player Wade Davis has become the most recent professional athlete to publicly admit his homosexuality.
Homosexuality has always been a hot-button issue in sports. This is why more players have not came out, especially during their careers.
This is all despite numerical odds which infers that there are at least a few gay athletes in each of America’s major sports organizations; NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc.
However, as time goes on, it seems that people are rightfully becoming more tolerant of the LGBT community. We hope that this inspires a shift away from “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and allows gay athletes to be liberated from the social stigmas of homosexuality.
Big names in sports such as Charles Barkley and Michael Irvin, who has an openly gay brother, have publicly defended gay athletes. With today’s more modern system of beliefs and values, it is likely that others will follow suit.
So in honor of Davis, we have comprised a list of notable gay athletes in America’s professional athletic organizations.
National Football League
Esera Tuaolo, 43: Defensive tackle in the NFL from 1991-1999. He was drafted by the Packers, and also had stints with Vikings, Jaguars, Falcons, and Panthers.
Roy Simmons, 55: Offensive lineman in the NFL from 1979-1983. He played for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, and played for the Superbowl XVIII Redskins.
David Kopay, 69: Kopay was a running back in the NFL from 1964-1972, and in 1975 became one of the first professional athletes to come out as gay. He was an All-American running back in college; and went on to play for the 49ers, Lions, Redskins, Saints, and the Packers, in the NFL.
National Basketball Association
John Amaechi, 41: John became the first former NBA to come out as gay in 2007. During his NBA career he played on the Cavaliers, Magic, Jazz, Rockets, and Knicks spanning from 1995-2004.
Major League Baseball
Billy Bean, 48: Was an outfielder whose careers spanned from 1987-1995. Bean played with the Tigers, Dodgers, and Padres.
Glenn Burke, 1952-1995: Glenn became the first former major leaguer to come out. He was a highly touted college outfielder that played for the Dodgers and Athletics in the majors from 1976-1979. He also participated in the 1977 World Series.
National Hockey League
Brendan Burke, 1988-2010: Brendan was a member of Miami University’s hockey team. He had came out to his family and team during his playing days. Burke was considered a pioneer for gay rights in the sports world, and had garnered planty of support including from his father Brian Burke, who was the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time. However; his life, career, and efforts were cut short when he was killed in a car crash in Indiana. Due to this, he never saw his opportunity of playing in the NHL come to fruition.
Matthew Mitcham, 24: Mitcham is an Australian Olympic diver. In 2008, he became the first Australian to win an Olympic gold medal in diving since 1924.
Greg Louganis, 52: An American Olympic diver, and now author. During his diving career he won four gold medals between the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games.
Matthew Rush, 39: A former trainer and pro bodybuilder, he now stars in gay porn films.
Jim Morris, 76: American bodybuilder who’s won several competitions in his over 30 year career, including the Mr. Olympia Masters Over 60, in 1996.
Emile Griffith, 74: Griffith is a former Welterweight and Middleweight World Champion throughout his 18 year career.
Orlando Jordan, 38: An American professional wrestler. Jordan is best known for his tenure in World Wrestling Entertainment, where he was a one-time United States Champion.
Chris Kanyon, 1970-2010: An American professional wrestler, best known for his work in World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, under the ring names Chris Kanyon and Mortis.
Women’s National Basketball League
Sheryl Swoopes, 41: An American professional basketball player who most recently played with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created.
Martina Navratilova, 55: She is considered one of the top female tennis players of all time. During her illustrious career from 1975-2006, she won 18 grand slam titles, an all time record of 167 career titles, and sported a career record of 1,442-219 (86.8%)
Billie Jean King, 68: Like Navratilova, King is touted as one of the greatest female tennis players of all time. During her career, from 1968-1983,she won 12 grand slam titles, 129 career titles, and has a career record of 695-155 (81.76%).