Former 49ers lineman Kwame Harris comes out, but needs to stay out in the public

I’ve covered sports for 27 years, and when I first started, it was always weird to me that there were no openly gay athletes. Just look at the number of professional football, baseball or basketball players, and no one is gay? I always figured it wouldn’t be long before an active athlete, particularly in one of the major sports, would come out and be open.

Since I first held a job as a sports writer in 1986, attitudes have changed. Some have been out in individual sports, like tennis and recently boxing. Yet through all these years, there are no openly gay and active athlete in the major team sports?

Earlier today, Kwame Harris has come out after playing in the Super Bowl and was outed. I really applaud him for coming out and going public by doing an interview with CNN to talk about it. You hope it will give other athletes the courage to be open.

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried joined a gay rights sports group Athletes Ally. Faried joined the group in part to honor his two mothers, who married in 2007. I suspect athletes are more like Faried than 49ers and Harris teammate┬áChris Culliver, who made anti-gay remarks prior to the┬áSuper Bowl. Unfortunately, I think Culliver’s words have more of an impact than Faried’s actions.

But lets be frank. No athlete has come out while he was an active player in a team sport. This makes it harder for the others who are in the closet. I would suspect that once someone came out, there would be several others who will come out as well. In this community, they need someone to be that leader. I can’t believe no one has stepped forward.

In an ideal world, I would like to see a team pick up Harris so he can come out of retirement and be that leader. He would get a lot of attention and have to deal with a lot of interview requests. He would create a legacy greater than anything he could do on the football field. He could create social change.

Below is the link to the Harris interview.