The topic of sexuality in sports has been raging for weeks with the controversial stories surrounding Manti Te’o and former San Francisco 49ers star Kwame Harris, who was recently outed as gay. And with these stories abounding in the media, new 49ers star Chris Culliver recently spoke out on the topic of gay athletes in the NFL with radio host Artie Lange and vehemently rejected the idea of ever allowing a gay man on his team.
“I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that,” Culliver explained. “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.”
When Lange asked Culliver if his team would ever accept a gay player, the cornerback responded, “Nah. Can’t be … in the locker room, man. Nah.”
Lange then asked if a gay player should come out of the closet during their career and Culliver replied that they should wait till after retirement.
“Yeah, come out 10 years later after that,” said Culliver.
Apparently, Culliver’s controversial words didn’t sit well with the 49ers, who participated in the “It Gets Better” campaign last year, as they immediately issued a statement condemning Culliver’s anti-gay stance.
“The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris,” the team’s statement said. “There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
After the immediate backlash, Culliver apparently had a change of heart and issued an apology to the LGBT community for his harsh words.
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” Culliver said in a statement released by the team. “It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”
Hopefully, Culliver’s apology is sincere and he, and any other homophobic fans and athletes, realize that their words add to the homophobic climate that pervades the sports world and has played a large part in creating an environment where Harris and other gay athletes suffer in a lonely closet of silence.
Thankfully, Culliver’s views aren’t shared by all athletes. Check out some athletes who are LGBT allies after the cut. –nicholas robinson