While there are plenty of athletes who are allies to the LGBT community, homophobia in sports has not suddenly disappeared. Dan Savage shares the story of Jamie Kuntz, a college football player who was kicked off his team after kissing his boyfriend in the press box during a game.
Kuntz, who was playing for the North Dakota State College of Science, was spotted by teammates kissing his boyfriend — a charge he originally denied. On the bus ride back, head football coach Chuck Parsons confronted Kuntz, who said his teammates were mistaken.
He sent some tweets that alarmed his roommate — Kuntz hinted at being suicidal — and the police were called. After the police determined that he was not a suicide risk, Kuntz sent his coach a text message saying that he was gay and that he had kissed the man who was with him in the press box. Kuntz also apologized to his coach for lying.
The next day, Kuntz was kicked off the team for being "detrimental" and a "distraction." Parsons maintained that he did not care what Kuntz did in his personal life, but that his behavior at the game and his lying were sufficient reasons for his dismissal.
Kissing someone during a game isn't a distraction unless it's a "gay kiss." And even if it were a distraction, a slap on the wrist is more than enough to get the point across. Kicking him off the team for such a minor offense comes from one place and one place only: homophobia.
Kuntz admits that he made a mistake — in kissing his boyfriend and in lying — but he says it was only a kiss. He points out that other players on the team have broken various rules with far less severe repercussions.
And Kuntz defends his boyfriend, whose age is bound to raise eyebrows: Kuntz is 18, and his boyfriend is 65. Savage acknowledges that because of the age difference, it is "highly unlikely that [Kuntz] will become a poster child for young gay athletes." Kuntz says he's always just been attracted to older men.
For some, this may not be a clear issue of discrimination — and since Coach Parsons can kick anyone off his team for whatever vague reasons, it's easy to dismiss. But in the wake of Chris Kluwe's powerful letter in support of gay rights and talk of changing attitudes, it's worth remembering that gay athletes still don't have it easy.
[Image via AP]