Since I wrote about the Manti Te’o gay rumors last week, I thought I should follow up on the rumor mill and discuss Katie Couric’s interview with the soon-to-be NFL rookie.
In the interview, which you’ve probably already seen but posted here if you haven’t, Couric asked Te’o, are you gay? His answer seemed odd at best, but he did say he was not gay (far from it to be exact).
The exchange, which happens at about the 1:40 mark in this video, seems a bit too forced and almost rehearsed. I’m not suggesting Te’o is gay and that he’s lying, FARRRR from it. I’m only suggesting that it is odd that in 2013, he has to give himself so much distance from being anything other than heterosexual.
His “FAR from that” comment says so much about what he thinks queerness means for his professional football career. Recently more and more researchers and sports pundits have argued that the world of sport is becoming less and less homophobic and more and more ready for an openly gay, male professional athlete (see Outsports.com’s blogs on the subject).
The problem is we won’t know until someone comes out. We won’t know how his teammates will respond or how the press will cover the story. We won’t know if sponsors will flock to the uniqueness of the event or stay away for fear of backlash. We don’t know if any of these things or any other scenarios will play out until some has the courage to say they are FAR from being ashamed and proud to be an out athlete.
Until then we have to call out exchanges like the one between Te’o and Couric for what they are. Unwarranted, fear-induced denials. Do you see an issue with his response? Why does he have to be FAR from being gay and not just straight? Do you think he would have said he is gay during that interview?
Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear.