Super Bowl-winning NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said Sunday that the world of sport and society in general will be vastly improved once people stop thinking that “gayness” has something to do with “femininity.”
Ayanbadejo, a free agent who played for the Baltimore Ravens that won the 2012 Super Bowl, made a splash last month by announcing that he’s helping coordinate the coming out announcements of four current NFL players, all of whom plan to reveal their sexuality at the same time.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ayanbadejo seemed coy about the timing of that announcement, saying instead: “I don’t know when it’s going to happen.” Nevertheless, he was praised NBA player Jason Collins for his Sports Illustrated cover story outing him as the first openly gay male in professional sports.
“It’s a big deal because, really, America is calling for it. You can still be fired in 30 states for being a part of the LGBT community,” Ayanbadejo told host David Gregory. “So, for someone to step up and show that society is changing and society is calling for equality… especially in one of the four major sports, which has never been done before, it’s really a show of the changing of the tides and what’s to come in the future.”
He added that things would change more quickly if people stopped using their religious beliefs to justify taking away the rights of others. “We protect and believe in religion, but we don’t think religion should be calling out the LGBT community,” Ayanbadejo said. “We need to open people’s eyes and help educate people a little bit more.”
As for why it’s easier for lesbian athletes to come out, he suggested that it’s harder for men to “break the lines” because people believe that “gayness” has something to do with “femininity.”
“People think gayness has something to do with femininity, when really we just need to erase that stereotype from our minds,” Ayanbadejo said. “LGBT people come in all different types and shapes and forms, so I think that’s really what we’re fighting.”
This video is from NBC’s “Meet the Press,” aired Sunday, May 5, 2013.