There are currently no out athletes in any of the four major American sports. NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman thinks that could change.
“I don’t know why people haven’t came out before,” Rodman told Business Insider while promoting ESPN’s new “30-for-30” documentary, “Rodman: For Better or Worse.” “It’s cool that people are coming out being, you know, gay or homosexual or whatever, lesbian and stuff like that.”
A portion of “Rodman: For Better or Worse” focuses on Rodman’s relationship with the LGBTQ communities. During Rodman’s NBA career, he spoke openly about partying at gay clubs, dressing in drag, and having sexual fantasies about men, though he denied being gay. The documentary depicts Rodman as being embraced by LGBTQ people after a 1995 Sports Illustrated article revealed Rodman’s thoughts on sexuality.
Rodman told Business Insider that after the Sports Illustrated article came out, the cover of which showed him in lingerie, it opened up new doors between athletes and the LGBTQ community.
“They didn’t know the fact that when [they] shot that cover for the Sports Illustrated that that was the best-selling Sports Illustrated ever,” Rodman said. “And then the gay community started to reach out to me and said, ‘Wow, we never knew that our community can be represented like that in sports.’ And people didn’t know at the time that I was doing that.
“I was, you know, doing all the drag clubs, I was dressing in drag. I was dressing in women’s clothes, I was doing lingerie and stuff like that and people in the gay community started embracing me,” he continued. ” If you’re gay, I didn’t give a damn.”
Rodman said he thought that moment was the time for gay athletes to come out. He also pointed to Magic Johnson’s announcement in 1991 that he was HIV-positive as a landmark moment, noting that it didn’t change his feelings about playing against Johnson.
“They asked all the players in the NBA, nobody wanted to play with him. They asked me, I said, I don’t give a damn, I just wanna play. I don’t give a damn if he got that.”
Rodman said he believes 10-20% of players in the NBA and all of pro sports are gay.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, literally, I’ve said it all along, if 10% or 20% of people in the NBA, or any sports, [are] gay,” Rodman said. “I wouldn’t be surprised. It wouldn’t shock me at all. I think today, it wouldn’t shock anyone. I think that’d be more acceptable now than anything.”
Rodman referenced a recent ESPN article about NFL free agent Ryan Russell coming out as bisexual and saying he wants to pursue another contract in the league.
“It don’t matter if [you’re in] sports or entertainer or actor or whatever in the world … Who cares? Okay. Who cares? You know, as long as he play and perform, does it matter?”
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