Psst…come closer. Let me tell you a secret.
The starting quarterback on your favorite football team may be gay.
As is the power forward, right fielder, goalie or MMA/WWE performer of your liking.
We’re programmed to believe that every athlete is a red-blooded, hard-charging He-Man who works hard, plays harder and reaps the fruits of his labor in the form of seven-figure contracts and an endless buffet of leggy babes at the offing.
Truth is, not all of them are.
You know it.
I know it.
The bold, courageous decision by George Washington University basketball player Kye Allums to disclose her transgender state is a step closer to making the sports world finally open the Pandora’s Box that has been sitting silently in the corner for years, afraid of the consequences that will befall upon its unveiling: that there are active, professional athletes who are gay and/or bisexual.
Allums has been identified as a male since his sophomore season, but the 5'11 junior guard from Hugo, Minn. is both biologically and physically a female.
She has received the full support of Colonials coach Mike Bozeman and her teammates since disclosing her situation on Monday.
Gay men and women exist in all walks of life, and you’d have to be foolish or pretty damn shallow to think they aren’t residing in the most masculine of all arenas, the locker room of a professional sports team. The clock is at the 2:00 warning, and as it slowly ticks down, someone will see the confidence and heart that Allums displayed, walk to the dais with purpose and say the words that will – to paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan – tear down this wall.
Allums has thus far received a very positive reaction, but it doesn’t mean she won’t be subjected to the vile disgust that will come from the closed-minded bigots and ambassadors of hate that will await GWU on the road.
Infantile slurs will follow from the mouths of immaturity who disguise their deeper issues of insecurity and ignorance in the form of the usual responses that have deterred others like Allums from moving the sports world one step closer to understanding.
Then again, the sports world is perhaps the best place for Allums to make his stand. Our playing fields have long been the site of progressive movement, be it Branch Rickey’s decision to promote Jackie Robinson to the majors or John McKay’s USC football team changing the complexion of the Southeastern Conference on a humid September night 40 years ago.
For Allums – or anyone who stands up for his or her choice of lifestyle – the support of a locker room is the be-all, end-all factor for success. That person must have the unwavering backing of their teammates, who must be mature enough to dispel the 15-year-old boy-like thoughts about showers and soap while becoming beacon lights that will allow others to stop living a lie about who they really are.
Does the sexual preference of a player really matter? Should we care about the off-field activities of someone so long as they’re upstanding citizens and represent their team and community?
Or should we continue to let young men and women commit suicide or be exposed to hate crimes by their peers because we can’t handle change or accept them for who they are?
We are taught to love each other unconditionally without prejudice or distain. Will you be able to live by those words when the day comes where a professional athlete steps into the light and says, “I’m (fill in name), and I’m gay?”
Kye Allums probably won’t make an All-America team; she may not guide GWU to the Final Four, but the second Allums steps on the court when the Colonials open the season against Wisconsin-Green Bay on November 13, she becomes a game-changer.
Not just a meaningless early season game, but the game of life.
If you’re a fan of life, you should be rooting Allums on. She’s opened the door just enough for someone to knock it down once and for all.
"I just wanted to set an example for other people who are afraid to be themselves," she said.
Perhaps we can all learn from Allums' bravery, while learning not to be afraid of what's already out there.