Former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan publicly revealed today that he is gay, becoming only the second former Division One male basketball player ever to do so (and the second black male public figure to do so today — CNN's Don Lemon shared his news on Twitter this morning). Today's ESPN.com article profiling Sheridan says that he was out to teammates and dated men while at Villanova but held back from making a public declaration until now.
This comes right on the heels of NBA executive Rick Welts coming out on Sunday. The president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns, former president of the L.A. Dodgers, second-ranking NBA executive and co-creator of the WNBA and NBA All-Star Weekend told New York's Daily News that he held on to his 40-year secret until he was well-established professionally.
In some ways, it's strange that we care so much about who people have sex with that a man's sexual identity is worthy of secrecy followed by headline-grabbing announcements. But the reality is, there's a lot of homophobia in the world — especially in the world of sports. And both men seem to understand how valuable their honesty will be for those who look up to them.
"I thought there might be some young people out there who were in the same position I was, who love team sports … but are afraid," Welts said. "If, by telling my story, if even just a few young people are encouraged to follow their passion and have a successful career, then it will have been worth it."
Sheridan, who's now a musician, told ESPN, "I'm trying to have a voice, and I want that voice to reach as many people as it can," he said. "I mean, look at me. I'm black. I'm gay. I'm like a quadruple minority, and I feel like a little piece of me resides in everybody. Maybe there's a kid out there who doesn't think he's OK and he can look at me and say, 'OK, he played college basketball. He went overseas. He has a music career and now he's living his life. Now he's who he wants to be, and he's happy and confident and comfortable.' It's my responsibility to talk about that."
In other news: Black Women Are Less Attractive. Oh, Really?