We’ve heard and read a wealth of opinions on Jason Collins coming out as the first openly gay, active player in one of the four major American sports. They’ve come from all of the usual sides: fellow professional athletes, media talking heads and scribes, and public figures.
But, maybe I missed something (and I’m sure I have), but I haven’t seen or heard a take from our youngest generation until today.
Ridgefield’s Sam Gravitte is an all-state football and lacrosse player and an actor (he played Jean Valjean in the school’s production of Les Miserables) who’s (deservedly) off to Princeton this fall. He gave us a peek at what young men and women his age think of the fuss about an athlete’s coming out party in Ridgefield’s school paper, The Tiger’s Roar.
And, if you grasp the history of race/gender/homosexual relations in this country, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the youngest of our American clan:
So what has taken sports so long? It seems that in America, the younger generation at least, we’ve opened our arms to gays. Indeed, in the past few years alone we’ve seen the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” initiative crumble in the military, gay senators come out and be elected in relatively large numbers, and two laws handling gay marriage issues reach the Supreme Court for deliberation.
But in a world strongly associated with heteronormativity, where the manliest of men, the strongest and most physical, the fastest and toughest compete daily, how can a guy who likes other guys possibly keep pace?
Because if you can play, you can play.
Gravitte goes on to tackle some of the different sides of the gay-athlete issue, but comes to the conclusion that Collins’ announcement was significant because it smashes barriers Gravitte believes shouldn’t have existed in the first place:
True friends understand that gay doesn’t define a person; it is a piece of a person. Many who tremble behind the wall are afraid of fitting into a category that society has deemed taboo. Because, to most, to be gay is to be different. And to be different is to be an outcast.
Jason Collins has let those athletes behind the wall know that they are not alone. And in today’s world of social progress and growing equality, look for more to rid themselves of fear and liberate themselves with the truth.
No matter what you may think of the issue, Gravitte’s position as a young, talented athlete and outstanding student is worth reading and understanding.
Read the full essay in RHS Tiger’s Roar here.