Irvin Still Fighting for Gay Brother

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on July 13 2011 1:40 PM ET

Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin talks about what he learned by having a gay brother, and about being afraid "to even let anyone have the thought" that he might be gay too, in an interview with Out magazine.

Irvin is the 15th of 17 children, and he recalls the day he found his older brother Vaughn dressed in women's clothing. The moment had long-lasting impact.

"Maybe some of the issues I’ve had with so many women — just bringing women around so everybody can see — maybe that’s residual of the fear I had that, if my brother is wearing ladies’ clothes, am I going to be doing that? Is it genetic?" said Irvin. "I’m certainly not making excuses for my bad decisions. But I had to dive inside of me to find out why I was making these decisions, and that came up.”

Irvin's brother's sexual orientation was a family secret until he died of stomach cancer in 2006 at the age of 49. And Irvin worries for closeted athletes in professional sports.

“If I’m not gay and I am afraid to mention it, I can only imagine what an athlete must be going through if he is gay,” Irvin told Out. Now he's using his Miami radio program, The Michael Irvin Show, to talk about homophobia in sports.

“The last thing I want is to go to God and have him ask, ‘What did you do?’ And I talk about winning Super Bowls and national titles,” said Irvin. “I didn’t do anything to make it a better world before I left? That would be scary.”

Irvin wants the world to know, that “If anyone comes out in those top four major sports, I will absolutely support him.”

Out ran double covers this month — one with Irvin and the other with another outspoken straight ally, rugby's Ben Cohen.