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Former San Francisco 49ers player Kwame Harris talks about being gay in the NFL

Former San Francisco 49ers player Kwame Harris talks about being gay in the NFL

In an interview with CNN Newsroom, former San Francisco 49ers player Kwame Harris opened up about being a gay NFL player and the dark feelings he had:

“You want to escape the despair and turmoil and your mind goes to dark places,” Harris said of keeping his sexuality secret. “I’m happy today, and I’m glad they were just ideas and I didn’t act on any of them”


“The cost was great not speak candidly open about myself in complete manner,” Harris said. “If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength [to come out].”

While I’m sympathetic to his personal struggles, I think, ultimately, he made the right decision. Football is still a heterosexual male-dominated sport, and the decision to come out could not only cause division among the team, but it could be deadly for the player.

Case in point: Harris was “outed” after a confrontation with his lover. Teammate and cornerback Chris Culliver made some harsh, yet not-so-surprising remarks:

“I don’t do the gay guys man,” said Culliver. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”

According to USA Today Sports, Culliver later apologized for his comments and visited with an LGBTQ support group.

The truth is that many players in the NFL feel this way, but Harris hopes that he can be an example and inspiration for others:

“I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings,” Harris said. “Don’t feel alone in having them.”

I’m glad that Harris is happy today and moving on with his life. I think more NFL players will come “out”–but it will probably be after they’ve retired from the league. 

Still, because his issues were personal, and seemingly unrelated to the purpose of the team, which is to win games, it begs the question: is it necessary to know a player’s sexuality in professional sports?

What do you think?

Your Jersey Girlfriend,

~Angela Davis




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