A couple of weeks ago, Kenneth Faried signed on as an Athlete Ally, the first NBA player to do so. Athlete Ally is an advocacy organization that supports dialogue and awareness that will make the sports world more inclusive toward gay athletes. It was the sort of announcement that's heartening for people who care about an issue, but goes largely unnoticed among most others.
Faried was a natural candidate. He grew up in a same-sex household with his mother and her spouse. Faried doesn't see this as a noble cause or an idealistic vision because, for him, it's a simple reality. He doesn't know any other world. For gay people and those like Faried for whom gay relationships are normative, that's often the most frustrating part of any discussion about rights or working environments. It's so un-radical to propose that we create a world where people don't have to lie or hide or manufacture some parallel but artificial reality for themselves. Suggesting that people live freely seems like the opposite of creating an issue.
Like most athletes I've spoken to about this issue, Faried expresses a combination of optimism and pessimism on the prospect of an openly gay man playing NBA basketball. Faried doesn't feel that there's rampant homophobia or hate in the league. But he also recognizes that real anxieties exist among NBA players, and hypothesizes some of them: Would they be less likely to box out or post up a gay opponent? Could it be anyone other than a star player who has job security and unimpeachable respect?
These are all questions that will arise. When that time comes, Faried will be around to answer them.