The world of sports is still one of those places where it's really not okay to be gay, or at least to be open about it. How else to explain why no prominent player in the NFL, NBA, or NHL has yet to come out of the closet in the middle of his career? All of which makes Boston Herald sports columnist Steve Buckley's admission that he is gay all the more impressive — and important. In a touching column today, he writes:
I’ve put this off long enough. I haven’t been fair to my family, my friends or my co-workers. And I certainly haven’t been fair to myself: For too many years I’ve been on the sidelines of Boston’s gay community but not in the game — figuratively and literally, as I feel I would have had a pretty good career in the (gay) Beantown Softball League.
Buckley deserves credit for being open with himself, his co-workers, his readers, and his sources. Buckely is one of the most well-known members of Boston's sports media — both through his Herald column and his regular appearances on the WEEI sports talk radio station (which, it should be said, has a tendency toward overly macho, homophobic moments) — so it definitively took some courage for him to put it all out there. Fortunately, the reaction — so far, at least — has been overwhelmingly positive. While the Herald has deleted some comments on Buckley's coming-out column (presumably because they were offensive and/or antigay), there are still hundreds of positive notes. And on Twitter, where no one is moderating the comments, I can't find even one negative reaction. Reactions like this one, from Buckley's fellow sports commentator Joe Haggerty, are the norm: "It takes a lot of courage to do what Boston Herald sports columnist Steve Buckley undertook today and it's a must read."
It's probably only a matter of time before negative comments make it onto the Internet, and it will certainly be interesting to hear the reaction today on sports talk radio, which isn't known for being the most gay-friendly of places. But even if some in the sports world are uncomfortable with Buckley's admission, hopefully they'll come to the same conclusion as Twitter user pealharborjob: "Doesn't really change the words on the page, though. Does it?"