For the past week, Brendon Ayanbadejo has been in the news, the heterosexual Baltimore Ravens linebacker using this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII as an opportunity to advocate for same-sex marriage and anti-gay bullying.
ATHLETES STEPPING UP
It is rare for a straight athlete, especially an NFL sports star to promote gay rights. There is still a negative stigma surrounding gay athletes, many instances of homophobia in the sports world the last couple of years. Think Kobe Bryant calling a referee a “fag” and Yunel Escobar etching the gay slur “maricon” into his eye black in September 2012 after former Pittsburg Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy came out as gay.
What we have needed is a straight athlete to take the initiative and ask what he can do to support LGBT rights, something Ayanbadejo wasted no time in doing after the Baltimore Ravens flattened the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game two weeks ago. In the wee hours of the morning, Ayanbadjo e-mailed two gay rights advocates, asking how he could promote LGBT marriage and anti-bullying these past two weeks.
One of the ways Ayanbadejo has helped LBGT rights is by speaking out about San Francisco 49ers Chris Culliver, whose homophobic comments sparked controversy this past week. Culliver was questioned in a podcast by Artie Lange about the existence of gay athletes on the San Francisco 49ers team.
“No. Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff,” said Culliver, as posted on http://articles.baltimoresun.com.
Although Culliver publicly apologized yesterday, Ayanbadejo shed some knowledge on Chris Culliver’s remarks and how Ayanbadejo handles homophobic comments in the sports world.
“When the situation comes up, I let them know it’s not acceptable to say those words. And if you replace gay for dumb or dumb for gay, then that’s really derogatory and that hurts people. I let them know and sometimes they understand,” said Ayanbadejo, his words stated on http://articles.baltimoresun.com.
THE DEEPER MESSAGE
When a player such as Brendon Ayanbadejo takes a national stand by defending gay rights and anti-bullying efforts, it sends a deeper, widespread message. LGBT rights affect everybody, from kids of LGBT parents who get teased and harassed for having two gay parents, to the young gay teenager who may be contemplating suicide due to the constant in-person or online harassment over his sexual orientation.
If a young adolescent or older person sees a successful brave NFL athlete such as Brendon Ayanbadejo not tolerating gay discrimination or gay bullying, it can create positive change. Maybe a bully who has been tormenting gay people will pause and reflect, asking oneself, “What am I doing here? Is it right to keep bullying somebody because they are gay?”
Maybe a gay teenager who hears Ayanbadejo’s message will feel safer and come out to his friends, now inspired with a sense of hope.
SUPER BOWL XLVII
Will Ayanbadejo talk about LGBT rights during Super Bowl XLVII? Tune into CBS, kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time as Ayanbadejo and the Joe Flacco led Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers.
How do you feel about Brendon Ayanbadejo advocating for gay rights? Do you like the way he handled Chris Culliver’s comments? Please leave a comment below.