One of the most pressing issues in this country today is the issue of gay marriage and gay rights. While the more humane people in our society believe that who you choose to love should’t have an effect on your human civl rights, the more fearful among us want to to suppress reality as much as possible. There will come a time when we have openly gay public figures outside of Hollywood — which means one day we will have openly gay professional sports players.
As for now, players don’t come out until after their careers are long over, but we recently learned that there was a gay player in the league within the last decade, and likely there were more.
Kwame Harris was an offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers back in the early 2000s and played up until the 2008 season. But while he was a first round draft pick and the 49ers learned everything they could about him there is one detail that got lost in the shuffle — Kwame Harris is gay. The reason we know he’s gay is because an ex-boyfriend outed him during a bizarre and ongoing court case.
So this means that several Niners players that are preparing to play for the Super Bowl played with a gay man — and they lived to tell the tale. The biggest issue about having an openly gay football player is the fear that it would divide a locker room. Brendon Ayanbadejo and Matt Birk serve as an example of players that are teammates but on completely opposite ends of the gay rights issue.
Delanie Walker, who played with Harris for two seasons, says had Harris been out while he was his teammate, he would have looked at him no differently.
“That’s him. If that’s what he’s into, that’s what he’s into.” Walker said. “I can’t judge a person for how he feels. Things happen. He was a great player. I don’t see him no differently.”
Long snapper Brian Jennings echoed Walker’s sentiment, saying it doesn’t matter what your orientation is off the field, so long as you’re part of the team while you’re on it.
“We all come from various different backgrounds, whatever they are,” Jennings said. “We’re all there for the common purpose of winning football games. I don’t know if it mattered or if anyone was aware of his sexual orientation.”
The issue is likely not going to go away anytime soon, and let’s not skip over the fact that the 49ers play in San Francisco, stereotypically categorized as the gayest city in American (turns out it’s actually only the 17th gayest city in America). The fact is this: the 49ers played for years with a gay man on their roster, and the franchise the worst thing it suffered from was Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary’s coaching eras.