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Author Topic: NBA player comes out of the closest
Ecofem
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I just read this article from the Washington Post about former NBA player John Amaechi publicly announcing he's gay (right before his autobiography comes out. [Wink] ) It talks about "why it's so difficult for male athletes in team sports to say they're gay."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/08/AR2007020802247.html

My favorite line: The fact that a great number of heterosexual male athletes actually believe they don't already share locker rooms and showers with gay teammates is laughable.

- What do you think about John Amaechi coming out? Does it affect the your attitude towards the sport/NBA/athlete?

- What have been your experiences with sexual orientation and teammates, if you yourself are GLBT or if you have GLBT teammates?

- Do you think the importance of sexual orientation is different in pro-sports than in amateur teams?

- The author, Michael Wilbon, says it's so difficult for male athletes to come out to their teammates. How is it for female athletes -- easier, harder, or the same?

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Surferchk07
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quote:
- What do you think about John Amaechi coming out? Does it affect the your attitude towards the sport/NBA/athlete?
Im sure theres alot more athletes out there....And there all starting to come out more and more. Didnt Sheryl Swoopes of the Houston Comets come out not too long ago? (She was my idol growing up as a kid in Houston)
And no it doesnt change my attitude, I dont go to a game cause I want to gossip about who is gay or not. I go to the game to watch the game and there playing the game so I applaud them.

quote:
- What have been your experiences with sexual orientation and teammates, if you yourself are GLBT or if you have GLBT teammates?
Honestly I never had any problems with any of my team-mates in sports knowing I was a lesbian. They never treated me any differently. And they knew I wasnt interested in them like that, they were my team-mates. Which made them not worry. Sure in the beginning when I told them they wernt happy about it but eventually they realized I was being the same as before I came out to them.


quote:
- The author, Michael Wilbon, says it's so difficult for male athletes to come out to their teammates. How is it for female athletes -- easier, harder, or the same?
I think its difficult for anyone to come out. No matter if their an athlete coming out to their team-mates or someone coming out their family.

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Elizabeth

"Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." -Spinoza

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Hijol
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Wow, a basketball player admitting they are gay. How...courageous. =)

Well, some people say...that if you hang out with a lot of people of your same gender...it could influence your orientation. I heard about an athlete that gradually turned gay after...

There are probably quite a few sport stars out there that are not hetero.

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feefiefofemme
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"Well, some people say...that if you hang out with a lot of people of your same gender...it could influence your orientation. I heard about an athlete that gradually turned gay after..."

To be blunt, those "some people" are wrong. Being gay isn't something that happens gradually, it's just something that's always there, whether or not you recognise or accept it at the time. Nor does someone "turn gay" because they spend too much time with same-gender friends.

Returning to the topic:

Personally, I'm not a much of a follower of sports, but I do have a lot of respect for anyone who has the guts to come out publicly. I think a pro sports player coming out is a little different than if it's an amateur athlete, because, when any celebrity comes out, it becomes a political statement. It's much less private and personal, as nearly every aspect of famous people's lives are.

Because I don't play sports, I don't have any team coming out stories to tell, but I do take PE. And my god, girls can be petty and malevolent in the locker rooms. I hear girls talking about other girls, saying things like "Omigawd, so-and-so was totally staring at me when I was changing. Ew, doesn't she creep you out?" I'm afraid to come out partially for that reason. I don't want people thinking I want to feel them up in the locker room just because I like girls. Honestly, I don't even like anyone in my PE class platonically, let alone feel attracted to them.

At my school at least, it may be harder for a guy to come out to his teammates, because, while the girls are pretty cruel behind each other's backs, they often don't say anything to each other's faces. So people could be talking badly about you and you wouldn't even know. While this is hardly ideal, the guys tend to physically and verbally harrass each other, which IMHO, is worse.

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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by Surferchk07:
Im sure theres alot more athletes out there....And there all starting to come out more and more. Didnt Sheryl Swoopes of the Houston Comets come out not too long ago?

I'm not the biggest fan of (men's) professional sports, but I went to a WNBA game once and had a really good time. The audience seemed to be a mix of young and teen girls (who probably played basketball themselves), families with children, and lesbian couples. (I realize that these categories aren't necessary separate. [Wink] ) In any case, it seemed like a really positive, supportive environment for everyone there. I'm sure there was still pressure for players to stay closeted, but I don't think coming out would have turned away many of those fans.
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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by BiGoddess:
And my god, girls can be petty and malevolent in the locker rooms. I hear girls talking about other girls, saying things like "Omigawd, so-and-so was totally staring at me when I was changing. Ew, doesn't she creep you out?" I'm afraid to come out partially for that reason. I don't want people thinking I want to feel them up in the locker room just because I like girls. Honestly, I don't even like anyone in my PE class platonically, let alone feel attracted to them.

That's really tough -- I think you make a good point, PE class isn't usually the most chummy environment and it's as if a sweaty locker room is the dream locale for attractiveness! (Although everyone has their preferences...) The whole homophobic, "It's ok if s/he's gay but I don't want him/her to hit on me!" It's as IF people were interested in "you" in the first place; being queer doesn't make us standardless!

The ironic thing of this all is that those "Omg, she's looking at me!!" people are, well, looking pretty hard themselves to notice this. I'm have no problem with nudity (something nice I picked up living in Europe), but I'll admit to being curious as to what other people look like naked -- not in a sexual way, just in a human interest way. After all, with nudity being such a taboo, how many chances do we get to see others nude in non-sexual (i.e. porn) environments if we're not doctors... or rubber duckies? [Smile] Anyway, I think this comes down to people feeling as if they'd be "attacked" by gay people, which I just don't understand.

(Whoops, a bit off-topic!)

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Surferchk07
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecofem:
quote:
Originally posted by Surferchk07:
Im sure theres alot more athletes out there....And there all starting to come out more and more. Didnt Sheryl Swoopes of the Houston Comets come out not too long ago?

I'm not the biggest fan of (men's) professional sports, but I went to a WNBA game once and had a really good time. The audience seemed to be a mix of young and teen girls (who probably played basketball themselves), families with children, and lesbian couples. (I realize that these categories aren't necessary separate. [Wink] ) In any case, it seemed like a really positive, supportive environment for everyone there. I'm sure there was still pressure for players to stay closeted, but I don't think coming out would have turned away many of those fans.
Yeah I've noticed that the environment is alot different in WNBA games than NBA....NBA its mostly adult men, drinking beer maybe bringing there son along but not really noticing them that much. Where-as WNBA its a mix of full families, Lots of little girls with ambitions or dreams,But the vibe is just in-general really positive and good. No one is drinking really so you dont have to worry about someone saying something around the kids.

I think when Sheryl Swoopes came out no one even batted an eye. I dont know, In some ways I wouldnt be suprised if about half the women in the WNBA are Lesbians/bi.

I just find its sad though that people still have to hide who they are. I guess hopefully in 20 years that my kids (If I ever have any) wont have to hide whoever they are.

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Elizabeth

"Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." -Spinoza

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Ecofem
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I think you pretty much sum up the differences there, Elizabeth. I also think of the old cliches of queer women playing particular sports... (I can't of how to phrase this well so I'll leave it at that.)
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Surferchk07
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecofem:
I think you pretty much sum up the differences there, Elizabeth. I also think of the old cliches of queer women playing particular sports... (I can't of how to phrase this well so I'll leave it at that.)

Yeah its kinda like the saying "All tomboys are gay" or 'since you hung out with boys your whole life no wonder you turned out gay'.
You have to love all the sayings. I bet that in every major sport a good ammount of the players are gay/bi/lesbian or have been at one point in there life. But we wont ever know tell people feel safe enough to admit that they are. But its hard to feel safe when we still dont have equality for everyone yet.


EDIT: Joey, what pro sport do you think would probably have the most people who would be willing to come out of the closet if it happened? Like theres NBA, NHL, NFL, WNBA, Soccor and MLB. Out of all those which do you think is going to be the first to have people really coming out?

Like I know theres been a good ammount in the WNBA/NBA but I wonder if theres just the same in the other sports. I kinda wonder if theres a study about this. haha Im thinking about this too much i think.

[ 02-13-2007, 01:37 AM: Message edited by: Surferchk07 ]

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Elizabeth

"Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." -Spinoza

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Ecofem
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This isn't a study but I found an outline of gay athletes up to 1998: http://espn.go.com/otl/world/timeline.html

I'd guess WNBA players, or players in women's sports leagues in general, would come out first. Then again, people have stayed in the closet for a long time. However, maybe women would feel more pressured not to come out due to the old stereotypes. Then again, maybe they just that their sexual orientation (queer, straight, whatever) isn't important and that people should just focus on their game?

(I'm actually Lena... Joey is September. [Wink] )

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Surferchk07
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecofem:
This isn't a study but I found an outline of gay athletes up to 1998: http://espn.go.com/otl/world/timeline.html

I'd guess WNBA players, or players in women's sports leagues in general, would come out first. Then again, people have stayed in the closet for a long time. However, maybe women would feel more pressured not to come out due to the old stereotypes. Then again, maybe they just that their sexual orientation (queer, straight, whatever) isn't important and that people should just focus on their game?

That study is kinda interesting, 1920 the first person really came out. Just wow. I guess I wasnt expecting to see something that early in the timeline.
The problem is its really never about the game anymore if you think about it. Like people go see the Lakers VS Heat to watch the tension between Kobe and Shaq no one cares about the game they just want to see what will happen between them and what look they will give each other. Thats probably the problem.

And as for the stereotypes do you honestly think they will ever go away? I mean theres so many different forms of stereotypes on all people in general (wether their straight, bi, gay) so are the stereotypes the problem that makes it harder to come out as being gay/bi? Do they seceretly effect people who may come out but decide not to because of all the stereotypes on everything.

And my bad (I cant believe I just said my bad I think I said that in 1st grade...*shivers from the thought*) Two Germany people as volunteers huh...thats cool.

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Elizabeth

"Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." -Spinoza

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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by Surferchk07:
That study is kinda interesting, 1920 the first person really came out. Just wow. I guess I wasnt expecting to see something that early in the timeline.

Well, I know what you mean -- it does seem surprising for someone to come out so early. However, when you think about homosexuality/bisexuality as being around as long as humanity itself, it's kinda late. [Wink] I'm no queer studies expert, but I know that different societies have had different degrees of GLBT acceptance over the years. I believe the 1920s were generally a pretty tolerant time in terms of sexuality in countries like the US and Germany. To what degree is debateable, but maybe even better than now in certain situations. A documentary film on GLBTs and Hollywood called The Celluloid Closet is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Celluloid_Closet.

quote:
And as for the stereotypes do you honestly think they will ever go away? I mean theres so many different forms of stereotypes on all people in general (wether their straight, bi, gay) so are the stereotypes the problem that makes it harder to come out as being gay/bi? Do they seceretly effect people who may come out but decide not to because of all the stereotypes on everything.
That's a good question. I'd guess that stereotypes relating to gay people or GLBTs in sports are getting better with time, if gradually. However, as much as I'm an idealist, I'd guess that stereotypes of sorts will persist forever...

quote:
And my bad (I cant believe I just said my bad I think I said that in 1st grade...*shivers from the thought*) Two Germany people as volunteers huh...thats cool.
No problem! Just think of it as a part of an international (well, I'm from the US) team around the globe to answer questions at light speed. [Wink] And don't worry about slang -- I don't think I've picked up anything new in the past six years and will probably sound really dated soon...
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PenguinBoy
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I think the fact that sport, is one of the few places I know of that still separate males and females, could be one reason why coming out as a sports person is especially difficult.

Separating the sexes is apparently supposed to make it easier for females in sport so that they do not have to compete with the physique of males.
But what seems to happen is that, especially in team sports, there is an assumption that everyone is straight, so the people on the team behave in ways that they wouldn't around the opposite sex.

I'm on a rugby team and we're all quite comfortable being naked round each other in the shower. But I know that this would be a completely different scenario were there women around (not for me, I'd be just as comfortable round women, I do life drawing and there's no problem there). The behaviour is reliant on the idea that people are straight, and it puts more pressure on them to be so.

I don't check people out any more than they do each other, nor any more than I would when people are fully dressed, and there is no sexual context, therefore there is no sexual feeling. But I remember when I first joined, there was an older member of the team who in my opinion was queer. And he seemed obsessed, with supposedly mock-gay taunting. And after a few drinks would behave very irresponsibly and take this too far, often teasing younger smaller players with threats of a kiss or or touching them briefly but in unwanted ways, or dancing with them in something of a sexual manner, "apparently" just to laugh at their insecurity. However despite this he was obsessed by being a "real man" and I had heard about problems he had with his dad and suspect this to be the root of his obsession with fulfilling the "strong-male" he felt he lacked as a father.

The boys on the team never confronted him about this, I was new and young and was sometimes a victim, but now regret not being braver. Instead, they mocked him behind his back and ridiculed him. And the harassment felt by certain members of the team, was such that they refused to admit that their own behaviour was in any way unjustified. He was bullied intensely until he left, and not because he acted in an abusive manner, but because he acted in a homosexual abusive manner. The attitudes towards similar behaviour heterosexually and attitudes on the team towards women can be primitive.

Many of the lads had a specific objection to the possibility that he was checking them out while they showered. In public swimming pools, women's changing rooms are separate to men's. In case it allows invasion of privacy. But again that's put pressure on people to be straight, because that also relies on the assumption that they are.

So I'm really proud that this sports person has come out publicly and acting responsibly, especially with all the difficulties they must have faced in their career.

EDIT (addition): If I came out as queer to my team (which, according to my current thoughts, I would not, because I don't think I'm in any way different from them), they would probably feel betrayed that I could have been looking at them sexually all this time, and I having let them continue acting the same around me as if I was 100% hetero, in the knowledge that they would be uncomfortable with it had they known. They wouldn't kick me off the team, as they know it's politically incorrect. But they might make me shower separately, like they did when there was a girl on the younger team (girls could play on under 15 y.o. teams until only a couple years back, thought this girl probably only did so because her father was a coach). I'm certain that people would at first be very weary of me, some could reject me, but after a while they'd realise that I'm the same person, I'm sure of it.

[ 02-15-2007, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: PenguinBoy ]

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Ecofem
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Thanks for your in-depth response, PenguinBoy. [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by PenguinBoy:
Separating the sexes is apparently supposed to make it easier for females in sport so that they do not have to compete with the physique of males.
But what seems to happen is that, especially in team sports, there is an assumption that everyone is straight, so the people on the team behave in ways that they wouldn't around the opposite sex.

This is an interesting observation. I'm trying to think if it applies to female teams I can think of, but I'm not sure. I think there are other "problems" members of coed teams can face like (more?) sexual harassment. I was on an all-female swim team and everyone's behavior was totally "normal." On the other hand, I have been in women-only environments where males started to get objectified in ways that surely woudn't have been the same had men also been there. It was really off-putting to outsiders coming to visit, and just really stupid and immature, thinking back now.

quote:
I'm on a rugby team and we're all quite comfortable being naked round each other in the shower. But I know that this would be a completely different scenario were there women around (not for me, I'd be just as comfortable round women, I do life drawing and there's no problem there). The behaviour is reliant on the idea that people are straight, and it puts more pressure on them to be so.
I can't speak for myself on this, but I have friends who play rugby in a community league for women. Both teams in the US, one in a really liberal and the other in a very conservative city, were apparently very queer-friendly. Then again, I think the history and dynamic of female teams are very different that those for males.

quote:
I don't check people out any more than they do each other, nor any more than I would when people are fully dressed, and there is no sexual context, therefore there is no sexual feeling.
Whoops, that would just be me liking to look at people [Wink] (be it non-challantly and non-sexually.)

quote:
But I remember when I first joined, there was an older member of the team who in my opinion was queer. And he seemed obsessed, with supposedly mock-gay taunting. And after a few drinks would behave very irresponsibly and take this too far, often teasing younger smaller players with threats of a kiss or or touching them briefly but in unwanted ways, or dancing with them in something of a sexual manner, "apparently" just to laugh at their insecurity. However despite this he was obsessed by being a "real man" and I had heard about problems he had with his dad and suspect this to be the root of his obsession with fulfilling the "strong-male" he felt he lacked as a father.
This is really unfortunate and all too common. It always seems insecurity with themselves is the root of such inappropriate and unwanted behavior.

quote:
The boys on the team never confronted him about this, I was new and young and was sometimes a victim, but now regret not being braver. Instead, they mocked him behind his back and ridiculed him. And the harassment felt by certain members of the team, was such that they refused to admit that their own behaviour was in any way unjustified. He was bullied intensely until he left, and not because he acted in an abusive manner, but because he acted in a homosexual abusive manner.
This is also infortunate in other ways. (But I wouldn't feel too bad because you were new and young and now you've learned from the experience.) Do you think an honest talk with him would have stopped his behavior as well as others' counter-reactions? How and when (and who) would have been the time to confront him?

quote:
Many of the lads had a specific objection to the possibility that he was checking them out while they showered. In public swimming pools, women's changing rooms are separate to men's. In case it allows invasion of privacy. But again that's put pressure on people to be straight, because that also relies on the assumption that they are.
I go to a nearby public pool a lot that seems to be an unofficial spot for semi-openly gay people (ack, what am I saying with this!?!), where I can think of at least one older male lifeguard openly flirting with patrons. (Some moron scratched out the pool's name and wrote "tr*nny pool" if you'd like an example of "latent" homophobia.)

There are male and female changing rooms; there are also special changing cabins, but most women (I can only assume men, too) public shower nude and change in the open. I'll admit to feeling a bit like my privacy's invaded when a male lifeguard walks through (looking shocked but looking, nonetheless.) The pool also has coed nude bathing hours; however, I feel very much gawked at by "creepy old men" (for some agism) and uncomfortable. That'd be an uncomfortable coed sports environment...

quote:
So I'm really proud that this sports person has come out publicly and acting responsibly, especially with all the difficulties they must have faced in their career.
Totally agree.

Re: coming out to your team. After hearing about their past behavior, I'd be really hesistant, too. Then again, maybe by being really open and "I'm not going to take any s*** for it" could force them to behave with respect? Do you think it's really the issue at hand (such as being queer) or the resulting gossip that makes people uncomfortable or be mean?

[ 02-15-2007, 02:28 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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Ecofem
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A follow-up article on this topic: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/15/AR2007021500248.html

quote:
The NBA banished Tim Hardaway from All-Star weekend in Las Vegas because of his anti-gay remarks. Hardaway, who played in five All-Star games during the 1990s, was already in Las Vegas and scheduled to make a series of public appearances this week on behalf of the league. But after saying, "I h[*]te gay people" during a radio interview, commissioner David Stern stepped in.

"It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," Stern said in a statement Thursday.

Interesting and good to see that the NBA backing John Amaechi up here! Then again, despite being punished for his homophobic comments, it doesn't appear that Tim Hardaway has changed his beliefs...
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Surferchk07
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Its nice to see the NBA punishing him for what he said.
Ofcourse now he can just go to "I hate gay people rehab" Like the Greys Anatomy guy did after he called TR Knight a "F*****". And then everything will be fine. *Rolls eyes*

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Elizabeth

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Surferchk07
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Jenny from AGA just posted something about this on the AGA blogs and she showed the response Amaechi said after Hardaway said what he said:

"His words pollute the atmosphere. It creates an atmosphere that allows young gays and lesbians to be harassed in school, creates an atmosphere where in 33 states you can lose your job, and where anti-gay and lesbian issues are used for political gain. It's an atmosphere that hurts all of us, not just gay people."


Amazing response.

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Elizabeth

"Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." -Spinoza

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PenguinBoy
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quote:
This is also infortunate in other ways. (But I wouldn't feel too bad because you were new and young and now you've learned from the experience.) Do you think an honest talk with him would have stopped his behavior as well as others' counter-reactions? How and when (and who) would have been the time to confront him?
If I'd only found one, without having to realise afterwards "That would have been a good time"! By the time I realised exactly what he was about i'd missed a couple of opportunities, he'd stopped turning up as frequently (Probably in response to hearing a song made up about him).

To be honest, some of his closer friends would have been allot more helpful, if they'd say they'd support him if he was gay. I don't know if i could have been as helpful as they.

I'm busy recently, and haven't been to rugby for a while due to my dad, and school work. But if I see him in the future I'm pretty sure I'd arrange some way to have a proper talk with him.

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