Coming Out of the Closet

When former footballer Wade Davis recently emerged from the closet, people welcomed him with open arms. Still, the Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks that if the athlete had shared his sexual orientation 10 years ago, things would have been very different.

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There is nothing simple about one's sexual preference, especially if the person in question works in the NFL, one of America's most masculine sports leagues. The Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates tackles the NFL's various responses to former baller Wade Davis, who recently came out of the closet, pointing out that bigotry has a different face in 2012 than it did years ago.

One reason why it's hard to see bigotry in people we respect and love, is that it's become a mark of shame. I would almost go so far as to say it's becoming a class marker, which is very different than saying that bigotry is restricted to a certain class. But we think of bigots we think of ignorance, stupidity, violence and a lack of decorum. No one really wants to associate their friends and family with those sorts of qualities.

This becomes increasingly true as the particular bigotry becomes less accepted, and shame comes into play. And so in the 19th century you virtually everyone you have any respect for, at some point, uttering kind words about white supremacy. I am not even convinced that everyone who spoke those words believed them. But the lack of shame frees us from having to analyze our impulses, and even when we have analyzed them we're still free to say what we want in order to be part of the crowd.

Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' entire piece at the Atlantic.

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