Former NFL player Wade Davis is voicing his concern about San Francisco 49ers player Chris Culliver’s recent anti-gay comments. Davis came out as gay last year after leaving the NFL and is currently a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network sport-advisory board.
Culliver’s comments were recorded and played on the radio Tuesday, in which he said, “I don’t do the gay guys, man…No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.”
When further pressed by radio host Artie Lange about whether gay athletes should keep their sexuality a secret, Culliver responded, “Yeah, come out 10 years later after that.”
On Friday, Davis said on msnbc he was “very hurt” by Culliver’s statements.
“I had two different thoughts,” David told Thomas Roberts. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is going to help us have this conversation during the biggest game of the year,’ but then I also thought, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of players who are closeted in the NFL that are going to go deeper into the closet because of these comments.”
Davis said Culliver’s words reinforced negative stereotypes, especially in the world of sports. ”I think that people grow up with the notion that if you are gay, then you’re soft or, as Chris said, you’re ‘sweet,’” he said. “You know, the fact that a gay man can play a sport better than some straight men is an attack against their own ideas of masculinity.”
He added that it was the responsibility of straight players to come forward as allies to create an environment of tolerance. “If allies come out and say, ‘You know what, I’m against homophobia. I welcome a gay teammate,’ then it will be easier for someone who is gay to come out.”
When asked whether he regrets not coming out while he was an active NFL player, Davis responded that he didn’t think he was ready at the time. “I think that I had a lot of self-hatred,” he admitted. “I think that if I had had more allies in my corner, then yes.”
Culliver has since apologized for his remarks, but the story doesn’t stop there: two of Culliver’s teammates are denying participation in an “It Gets Better” video, despite clearly appearing in one.