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The Official Coming-Out Party

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NBA referee Bill Kennedy describes the challenges he faced on and off the court as a gay man (3:44)

After Rajon Rondo berated NBA referee Bill Kennedy with an anti-gay slur during a game last season, Kennedy publicly revealed that he was gay. Kennedy talks about the fears he lived with as a closeted gay man and the reaction he received from the NBA. (3:44)

Editor's note: This story contains explicit language.

Billy Kennedy doesn't look up from his scotch when he's presented with the microphone.

It's after midnight on a Friday in July at IronWorks, a restaurant and lounge that doubles as a clubhouse for a modest executive golf course in an older section of Glendale, Arizona, just blocks from Kennedy's home.

When Kennedy, a regular, checked in a few minutes ago, he inconspicuously slipped the karaoke wrangler $20 to jump the line. Now his song is up -- the intro led by a few sharp trumpet statements and hot brass chords. And as the horns give way to the piano and cool metal brushes against the drum, Kennedy begins to croon.

"A foggy day / In London town / Had me low / Had me down ..."

From the opening stanza, it's clear: This is not your typical late-night, booze-soaked aria. The man has pitch control, steady intonation, the kind of playful interpretation of an old standard popularized by Michael Buble that only a karaoke superstar can deliver. Several of the other 25 or so people left in the joint are straining to find the voice's owner. Their heads are on swivels. But Kennedy still hasn't lifted his eyes. His back is to the room, with its brass, wood paneling, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series banners, a whiteboard highlighting tonight's fish fry special and a video monitor for the lyrics -- something else he doesn't need.

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