In an interview that appeared in The New York Times this weekend, a former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates came out as gay. Kevin McClatchy said that for the first time he feels comfortable being open and honest about his sexuality. The 49-year-old was an owner of the Pennsylvania baseball team from 1996 until 2007 – and he still owns several shares in the franchise. He was the youngest owner ever of a major league team in the country.
“You’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue,” McClatchy told the Times. “And there’s no dialogue right now.”
He also said: “Tens of thousands of people have played either professional minor league baseball or major league baseball. Not one has come out and said that they’re gay while they’re playing.”
Of the four major professional sports leagues in this country, not a single player has ever come out while he or she was actually playing professionally. This year’s Olympics in London, however, featured more openly gay and lesbian athletes than ever. And after retiring, a few pros have also come out in recent years, as well, like NBA’s John Amaechi. WNBA’s Key Allums also confirmed rumors earlier this year that she’s a lesbian. And longtime NBA executive Rick Welts made headlines last year when he came out – Welts was with the Phoenix Suns at the time.
And while homophobia may still pervade much of the professional sports world, there is some light at the end of this competitive tunnel. More professional players and teammates have been speaking out against homophobia and bullying as part of the It Gets Better Project. And as guys like McClatchey are honest about being gay, it makes room for others to do the same.