Next to marriage equality is gay sportsmen also a hot topic getting awareness these days. Who is doing his coming out during his or her career? And in America it should even happen be in the four Major Leagues in sport which are NBA (National Basketball Association), NFL (National Football League), NHL(National Hockey League) and MLB (Major League Bseball). NIKE offered to sign a major sponsor deal with an athlete, who will be openly out to support the LGTB community. And recently NIKE just fulfilled this promise with lesbian and openly gay basketball player Brittney Griner.
Our pink person of the month is this time Alan Gendreau, because not only is he openly out of the closet and a Christian, but he is wanting to come as the first publicly gay sportsman in the NFL. It is definitely a different kind of approach and angle on this topic. Could he be accepted as gay or will he being rejected because of it? Will he be allowed to play because of his performances alone on the field? Will the NFL make a statement that they do not care if you are gay or not as long as your good for the team?
Time will soon tell because Alan is getting a lot of attention lately because of an interview he did, where he is telling he wants to be the first openly Christian gay coming into the NFL. What better reason could we have to make him Pink person of this month April!! Especially with the upcoming World Outgames 2013 in our country Belgium this August. Different kinds of sports by gay men and women competing for championship. Let the best gay win!! 😉
Alan Gendreau is a former 23 year old kicker for Middle Tennessee State, where he played with high distinction from 2008 to 2011. He was the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history. He is openly gay from his 15 years old. And in what would be a groundbreaking move, he’s hoping to play in the NFL. Alan wasn’t drafted in 2012, but then very few kickers are. He didn’t catch on with any NFL team last year, but he hopes to make a team this year. And considering the fact that kickers are more disposable than paper napkins, he has half a chance.
In the United States these sportsmen in the major league mostly have an agent and Alan still has no agent. He will try to score himself an invite to a team’s OTA (organized team activity) over the next couple months. With holding that he can try to work his way into an NFL training camp in July or August. The odds are long, but many observers believe Gendreau has both the talent and the open-mindedness to reach the NFL. Whatever he will do, it will place the NFL, or any other specific team in an awkward position regarding Alan’s sexual orientation. No matter whether he’s signed or not signed, offered a tryout or not, it will gain a meaning. Teams will be accused of acknowledging, or discriminating, no matter what they do. Still, this is the way that barriers break down and make hopefully more athletes not afraid to do their coming out because of their career.
Besides being gay, Alan is also a devout Christian. This is not an easy mix at all, especially when he did his coming out to his parents during high school. His parents put him in church-based counseling. This lasted only four sessions off course. During the winter break he went back home to Orlando and took his then-boyfriend to a church gathering with friends from high school. When parents and other youth found out he was gay, they demanded the church leadership to remove Alan from their worship team. The church obeyed. “It was like my family telling me I wasn’t allowed to come home.” To this day Alan sleeps with his bible next to his bed and regularly attends Sunday church services. “I used to flip to the back of the Bible to see if it defined homosexuality”.
As an athlete at a Southern college, Alan Gendreau was not only a successful team member, but he also felt accepted by his teammates. He revealed that when he came out to his team in freshman year, they fully embraced him. Team holder and team punter Josh Davis said about Alan: “Everyone just saw him as a football player. He was just one of the guys. The fact that he proved himself on the field, there was a respect for him. He’s a good guy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. With all the coaches and players, he had a good relationship.” In two years as his teammate, Davis said he never once heard an insulting comment made about Alan’s sexual orientation. Gendreau related the same experience. “Off the field, some guy might throw a gay joke at him,” Davis said, “but it was never intended to be serious, it was just guys being guys together.” That carefree attitude strived him to his teammates off the field. On the field, his performance sealed the deal.
Still Alan feared a few years ago that if he was coming out publicly how it would affect his family and his chances with the NFL. Now he wants another shot at the pros. He wants to be open about it and honest about who he is. He wants to give everything he has. Alan knew he was gay at a very young age. He came out to friends and family at 16, started dating boys in high school and had on-again, off-again relationships with men through college. “When you know, you know,” he says.
In 2008, Gendreau began his college career with Middle Tennessee, who was led by head coach Rick Stockstill. Gendreau “came out” to his teammates, coaches, classmates and friends in his freshman year. That year he had a boyfriend, whom he met on Facebook, who had played baseball in college. Gendreau was not the object of homophobia from his teammates; in fact, no one on the team cared that Gendreau was gay and one player offered to protect him from gay-bashing. No one cared to talk about it in the media” until now.
Scouting reports leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft rated Alan as an average kicker. With only 62 field goal attempts in college, he did not receive attention from many NFL teams. He went without an agent. Gendreau stayed in shape through 2013, hoping to become the first openly gay NFL football player. “I’m a kicker that happens to be gay,” Gendreau said “It’s a part of who I am, and not everything I am. I just want to be known as a normal kicker. Right now, looking back when I’m 40, I can’t say I gave it my best shot. I can’t say I really tried to make it into the NFL. Last year I did it half-assed. If I don’t give it everything I have now, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”
Alan Gendreau’s aspirations come at a time, where there’s been increased discussion about homophobia in male team sports and if there ever will be an active openly gay athlete in any of the four major sports leagues. Let’s hope he can make it and even though he should be hired of his kicker qualities, it would be great if he will open the doors for any gay person. Because how do you tell your teammates that you are actually playing for the other team….. ;o)
HAVE A PINK DAY