Tuesday, September 30
Boston writer comes out of closet

Associated Press

BOSTON -- A Boston Herald sports writer came out as gay in a column Tuesday, saying he could no longer tolerate the "unabashed homophobia" in professional sports.

"I just got to the point where I didn't want to be silent anymore," Ed Gray, a 55-year-old reporter who has worked at the Herald for about two decades, said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "In the sports world, homophobia is tolerated."

He added: "It's the one minority that seems to be fair game."

In his column, Gray cited recent comments by New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, who was quoted calling Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells a "homo," and San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst, who said, "I don't want any faggots on my team." Neither was punished by the NFL. Shockey said he was misquoted and Hearst apologized.

"I'm out because I can no longer, in good conscience, choose to ignore the unabashed homophobia that is so cavalierly tolerated within the world of sports," he said in the column. "I'm out because the silence of a closeted gay man only serves to give his implicit approval to bigotry."

Gray said his hope is that "major league sports address the issue of homophobia and people who make overt homophobic remarks or actions be held accountable."

Gray's primary beat is horse racing, but he has also written about the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. He said he is not worried about how athletes will treat him after his column.

The column, headlined "Out and Proud," was displayed prominently on the back page of the Herald.

"We support Eddie and we just thought it was the right thing to do to give him the platform to express his views," said sports editor Mark Torpey.

The column was discussed at length on local sports talk radio Tuesday, and opinions was divided over whether Gray's column would make him an outcast. But Torpey said, "We haven't had much reaction one way or another."

"I'm out because I can't come up with a single logical reason why I should have denied myself the right to live and work as openly and freely as everyone else," Gray wrote. "Nor should anyone find a reason why an openly gay athlete should be denied the right to play a team sport without fear of becoming a target of prejudice or physical harm."

He noted that no active player in major team sports has announced he is gay, though some have done so after retirement.

"Somehow, a gay teammate is only regarded as a threat if he is honest and a stand-up guy, qualities that are usually valued in team sports," he wrote. He added that any frenzy caused by an athlete announcing he is gay could be quickly defused.

"How long would a gay player be such a distraction if all of his teammates rallied around him for the whole world to witness?" he asked.

Few sports writers are openly gay, and L.Z. Granderson, a gay sports columnist for Access Atlanta, the entertainment tabloid of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, said the machismo that is part of pro sports extends to journalists.

Granderson said there has been no negative reaction from athletes to his homosexuality. He revealed his own sexual orientation writing about competing in basketball in the Gay Games, and also in response to a group of Atlanta Thrashers hockey players he was with at a bar who asked why he was showing little interest in the women there.

He said Gray's column can help dispel the stereotype that gay people do not fit into the sports world.

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