Connor Barwin says attitudes on gay players are changing “very rapidly”

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Before any gay NFL player comes out of the closet, he needs to have some sense of what will happen when he does.

If he’s a member of the Texans, he has a strong supporter in linebacker Connor Barwin.

Barwin, who has an openly gay brother, tells that the process of a player coming out may not be as difficult as believed, although at first it could be a challenge.

“I think right now it would probably be hard for a guy to come out in our locker room just because of the awkwardness,” Barwin said.  “But I think they would be surprised at how welcoming people would be.  I think at the end of the day guys care about how you play football, because we’re all so competitive about winning that if there is a guy who comes out as gay in our locker room and he’s a good football player, people aren’t going to care about that.  I think that’s the honest truth.  I think guys care about what kind of person they are, what kind of teammate they are and how good they are at helping us win.”

Barwin suggested that, if the player issn’t a contributor or if teammates don’t like the player’s personality, it could be more problematic.  “But I could be wrong,” Barwin said. “It’s amazing how many people know relatives or friends who are gay, so I think it might not be as hard as some people think.”

Barwin also has a theory for how the first player will come out, and that it won’t happen via a press conference or any other obvious declaration.

“The first guy that does come out in the NFL might confide in some of his friends and it might spread and be accepted throughout the locker room,” Barwin said.  “And people would just get to know he’s gay and people will move on with football, the season and their life and realize it’s not a big deal at all.  There’s nothing different about what they’re doing.  There’s nobody having sex in the locker room, so there’s nothing really different.”

It could happen sooner than anyone realizes.  Barwin, who said he has noticed a sharp decline in the use of gay slurs in and around football, believes adjustments to the mindset of the locker room constantly are being made.

“Things are changing rapidly, very rapidly,” Barwin said.

Last week, former NFL player Wade Davis encouraged any gay player to come out, regardless of his status on the roster.  If/when more and more players agree with Barwin, someone eventually will come out.

And perhaps the comments from respected players like Barwin provide a key step in laying the foundation for a gay player to acknowledge his sexuality.  As heterosexual players make it more and more clear that it’s not a big deal, gay players eventually will reach the same conclusion.

37 responses to “Connor Barwin says attitudes on gay players are changing “very rapidly”

  1. It’s not a big deal, so it doesn’t need to be a big deal. In the locker room it will play fine until the media gets a hold of the story. The entire locker room will turn into a circus of reporters trying to trap players into a derogatory quote. The media frenzy would be crazy. Questions will change from football relavant questions to social politics. The distraction would be overwhelming. Hell, a fight between teammates in an OTA became a story for three weeks about how it could disrupt the locker room. Imagine if one teammate says one thing remotely against the gay lifestyle. It would be a game of gotcha.Teams pass on Hard Knocks to keep private distractions from becoming public. In a team sport that tries to limit distractions of any kind, it would be extremely selfish for a player to come out so publically.
    It’s just as selfish for a straight player to make his personal life a distraction in the locker room.

  2. So gay people have to keep a secret and live in private because some of you aren’t mature enough to handle the fact that not everyone is exactly like you? You sound like wonderful people.

  3. For those of you who think they should “keep it to themselves” or close friends and family…why don’t the heterosexuals keep it to themselves as well?! It is the 21st century and this should really be a non-issue. Good for Connor for speaking out!!

  4. I have a feeling that there are guys in locker rooms that have already came out to 4-5 players that are close friends, but that realize if they were to say anything in the media it would cause a frenzy.

  5. abr173rd says:
    Jun 12, 2012 8:36 AM
    Why can’t an NFL player be gay-his personal life- and keep it that way. No one cares that your gay nor wants to get force fed a press conference on it…If you want to tell you buddy’s in the locker room thats fine aside from that I don’t care nor need to know.
    It’s a fantasy to think anyone could keep this private once they tell anyone – once he tells his buds, how long until the press comes after him, and the team has to deal with sideshow distractions? You may not want to know, but the media doesn’t care what you want. Just look at how “some” websites senationalize even the most trivial statment in order to generate hits (=ad revenue).

    It will happen, big news splash, some people will get uptight about it, it will gradually subside (but not really disappear for a long time).

  6. Notice how all of a sudden the last 2 months there’s been an uptick in the amount of media coverage given to the idea of gays in the NFL. RG3 made a comment on it, now Connor Barth, and others….This is how the media usually sets up some big announcement, or story that’s going to break….Let’s watch and see….

  7. Being “gay” refers to someones sexual prefrence. Why does anyone need to know about someone elses ssexuality, unless of course they are gonna get freaky together. Exactly! They don’t….I say don’t ask! Don’t tell! And that goes for both gays and straights and whatever else there is out there.
    That being said, I do think it is the leagues responsibility to make sure there is a safe environment for all players. I would also reccomend some kind education on work place conduct, as the Players in this league seem so blind to common sense.

  8. roland66and7 says:
    Jun 12, 2012 9:15 AM
    So gay people have to keep a secret and live in private because some of you aren’t mature enough to handle the fact that not everyone is exactly like you? You sound like wonderful people.


    So being gay now makes people different? We are all people, we are all the same but I say again what about being gay makes you tell everyone about your sex life? Last time I checked its a private personal matter not a secret, there is a difference.

  9. I think a gay player divulging his sexuality will not occur because someone wants to “out” himself to his team. I think it will occur by accident because he is tired of other players trying to fix him up with their sisters or cousins. “Will you stop already. I am gay, so just stop it…. Oops.”

  10. Keep what to themselves? I wish I could tell my wife and family – “I’m not going to mention you or discuss your existence. I’m going to keep you to myself.” This keep it to yourself BS is logically flawed. It’s perpetuated by the lonely and the stupid. Those of you who aren’t 350lbs Madden “champs” who actually have a wife and or kids, should try and keep track of how often you say “my wife”, “my kids” or “my ugly mother in law” or address them by name to a person outside of your family. Scenario: Say there was a closeted player, in a committed relationship with his partner (For the sake of argument we’ll call them abr173rd and xxwhodatxx. Let’s say xxwhodatxx’s Mom dies. But longsnapper, and husband, abr173rd, has a walk through the day of his beloved’s family funeral. What’s he supposed to say? Heterosexual people can say “my mother in law has passed, I need the owner’s jet to make the funeral.” What are they supposed to do? Sorry, my love, bury your ugly mom without me, I have to “keep it to myself”.

  11. The first openly gay Big Sports athlete will be someone who grows up in a progressive community and who is out from the day he hits puberty. And who is also an amazing athlete every step of the way. He’ll hit resistance from high school on, but by the time he goes pro, it will be water under the bridge.

    It will take someone with the courage and resolve of Jackie Robinson, but I can see it happening in 10 years at most.

  12. xxwhodatxx says:
    Jun 12, 2012 8:40 AM
    I don’t understand why it matters. Why not just keep your sexuality to yourself and your close friends and family? I don’t go telling all my coworkers and anyone I run into on the street about my sex life so why do they feel it’s something everyone wants to know.

    Would you then say that if a guy lives with a woman in a committed, he should never talk about her in the locker room? Gay people can be in similar relationships. Why shouldn’t they have the same luxury as straight people.

  13. I doubt a gay NFL player will become open about his sexual preference. Not because he is ashamed of fears retribution but because the media frenzy will have a huge negative effect on his team.
    More likely, a retired retired player(s) will open up about their lifestyle long before an active player does.

    Let’s face it. Most of us don’t give a damm about what a guy does off The field providing he stays out of trouble and doesn’t harm anyone.
    The media tries to create a storm where their isn’t one.

  14. it amazes me how many people commenting here know nothing about gay people. the idea that they should just “keep it to themself” (which has the practical effect of telling gay people they are not allowed to go out in public with a date because they are second class subhumans) or “gays are typically very effeminate” (that one is just laughable). for the record folks, gay people don’t have gonna-make-me-gay cooties either.

  15. Sports has always been the foreground for civil rights and a lot of social issues. Integration, womens rights, HIV/Aids. Not just in the influence that these athletes have but also how we truly love sports regardless of any stigmas, and how petty these things really are.

  16. “Why do you have to come out in the open for the whole world to know, nobody cares”

    In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news there’s an epidemic of gay kids killing themselves across the country. Whether it was the suicide of Tyler Clementi, or the dozen others who’ve killed themselves in school from bullying. It’s important because a lot of these kids feel alone, ostracized, and persecuted – whether at school, in their communities, or even in their own families. Right now there’s some confused 14 year old living a small town, and he feels ashamed and wants to die. And if that same 14 year old can hear a news story about someone he admires or someone who does not fit the gay stereotype, coming out publicly, then maybe that kid won’t feel so alone anymore.

    Before you scoff or roll your eyes, just ask yourself if that was your son and daughter who feels this way. Because copping this attitude about “who cares” could very likely do that to them.

  17. 20… maybe even 10 years from now most people will look back on how they individually and as a society treated gays with great shame.

    I’m not expecting that those who hold to the religious “it’s a sin” will to change their views overnight – but is it too much to ask them to let GOD be the judge instead of being the one to judge themselves?

    That, I believe, is also a sin… hubris, and pride that they can or should judge in God’s place.

    Until God has his say, why don’t we just treat everyone in a welcome and fair manner, regardless of what they do in the bedroom

    (It also always amazes me that so-called “conservatives” want less government until it comes down to “bedroom” issues. As a “true” conservative I consistently want less government intervention – including issues related to sex, and religion – where if a church wants to marry gay couples, so be it – that’s between people and their church – government should have no role.)

  18. @abr173rd:

    Nobody cares who’s gay and who’s not? Don’t waste alot of time keeping up on the news there, big fella?

  19. It’s not about gay people throwing their personal lives in your face, it’s about them wanting to do normal things without being criticized. When a player wins the Superbowl and kisses his wife it wouldn’t be a big deal but if a gay player kissed his partner, it would be international news just because he’s gay. All of you saying just keep your life “private” are missing the point. Why should a gay player have to keep their lives private just to make you feel comfortable, it’s about them being able to do all the little normal things that straight players do, without raising eyebrows.

  20. I don’t get the “keep it to themselves” line of thinking, unless you’re just uncomfortable with people who are different.

    If you’re a hetero dude, did you ever casually share the fact that you’re heterosexual with people with statements like:

    “I dated a girl in high school who liked indie films.”

    “My wife and I go to that restaurant all the time.”

    “I want a new TV, but my wife wants to remodel the kitchen first.”

    You’re simply sharing the fact that you’re heterosexual (or at least you’re in a heterosexual relationship, so hopefully you are).

    It’s the same thing for a gay player who comes out. They’re not sharing TMI details about their private sex life or anything–they’re just being honest and no longer hiding who they are when it comes to orientation, JUST LIKE YOU DO when you make a casual reference to your opposite-gender significant other.

    The media will make a big deal about it.

    The bible thumpers and bigots will get their panties in a bunch. They’d be more comfortable if gay folks “kept it to themselves”. It took a while for them to accept that left-handed people are normal a few generations ago, so give them some time and patience.

    But most people will find out and won’t really care.

  21. My question is when he hears his teammates making gay slurs does he put up with it or speak out? The only way it will change is if people start trying to change others outlook on the matter. Hopefully he actually steps up and try’s to make a change.

  22. I seriously don’t understand why, in this day and age, anyone gives a damn what someone else does with their life.

  23. in Australia there’s been openly gay football players since the 90’s no one cares whatever you do in your home, bed with whom ever is your business. tell people , dont tell people its up to you we wont think of you any different.

  24. Football players wear face masks so most of these guys aren’t easily recoEgnized. Outside of Houston and his home town, most people couldn’t pick out a player like Barwin from a line up. Even in Houston he could go unrecognized. A gay player could easily live a low profile life like 99% of the other pro football players. I would bet most people have no idea what most players wives or girlfriends look like. Wade Davis encouraging a gay player to come out only pushes Wade’s agenda not the player. The player may have respect for family and current or future boyfriends to keep them out of the inevitable storm of media. It’s quite possible gay players enjoy a rather open private gay lifestyle and don’t come out because they don’t see the need draw unwanted attention that would certainly change from a private lifestyle to a very public lifestyle.

  25. this sounds kind of supeerficial to me especially coming from a player who has an openly gay brother. I wonder if he would have that same attitude if his brother wasnt gay. also he makes reference to the fact that it all depends on which player it is and if he is a starter who is well liked and is a big contributor to the teams success. so how would Darwin Barney react if this player wasnt a starter and wasnt a major contributor. Im confused here somebody tell me what the difference is here. a teammate is a teammmate, who is this guy to judge?.

  26. xxwhodatxx says:
    Jun 12, 2012 9:46 AM

    So being gay now makes people different? We are all people, we are all the same but I say again what about being gay makes you tell everyone about your sex life? Last time I checked its a private personal matter not a secret, there is a difference.


    This isn’t about their sexual escapades as you as many others seem to try and focus on. How about this scenario, they have a team party and others bring their wives or girlfriends? Like it or not, some people wouldn’t be comfortable with that. how would you like it if you had a significant other that you had to hide from the world?

  27. It doesn’t matter if you’re a diehard Raiders fan, Patriots fan, whatever. Hell, even if you’re one of those puke orange rednecks in Denver. This isn’t a matter of football. This is a matter of character.

    The LGBT community should not be judged in the workplace on their sexuality, regardless of their job. My job at the radio station and my fraternity brothers both accepted my bisexuality with open arms. My girlfriend has found similar openness for her, as she runs a transgender support group. Athletes deserve the same ability to live with their sexuality openly without judgement.

    Affirmation through simply being is the greatest level of affirmation that one’s soul can achieve. By denying your sexuality, one leave’s it open to self-hatred, and that prevents you from ever reaching that great affirmation. Your soul is hurt. Before I came out, I was a completely different person. I was not whole.

    My life was made better because of my decision to embrace who I really am. I can’t even begin to imagine the gift that would be bestowed upon athletes who come out. To already know what that feels like, but for them. Just wow. It could change the world.

  28. It’s actually a lot more dangerous for a person to “come out” and say that they think that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman – that freakish philosophy shared by about half the country – than it is to “come out” and say that you’re gay.

    The person who comes out and says that they’re gay, while they probably will take some abuse, gets lavished with praise by the media. The person who shares the sentiment of half the country about same-sex marriage – no matter how kindly he says it – might as well be a mass murderer. That person will get beaten up completely just for sharing their opinion.

  29. The largest issues wouldn’t be reception personally but comfort level such as in the showers and during games if the other team’s players uses gay terms towards that player

  30. i’m ok with it as long as you sign with the 49ers….that way you can share something in common with the majority of their fans.

  31. I waited tables in Miami in ’96 and a male server that I worked with that also did private parties and danced, told me stories about Dieon Sanders that would make ya blush.

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