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Big league hate

Big league hate

Rocker

"You know Mickey and Goofy and Donald and all those guys?" John Rocker told me at DisneyWorld. "They're faggots in costume. All of 'em."

Nearly eight years ago, while working as a writer at Sports Illustrated, I was assigned to fly to Atlanta and spend the day with a Braves relief pitcher named John Rocker.

During the seven hours we hung out together, Rocker offered enough pointed, satanic thoughts to fill 10 notebooks. He hated blacks, he hated foreigners, he hated New Yorkers, and he hated people with colored hair and AIDS.

He also hated "the faggots."

For the record, that was his choice of word. Not gay. Not lesbian. Not homosexual.

"Faggot."

During a visit to Disney World a few weeks earlier, Rocker told me, he was disgusted by all the life-size characters roaming the Magic Kingdom. "You know Mickey and Goofy and Donald and all those guys?" he asked me with the straightest of faces. "They're faggots in costume. All of 'em."

Though many years have passed, I thought of Rocker's words recently when I heard that onetime Orlando Magic center John Amaechi had come out of the closet. As was the case when former Green Bay Packer nose tackle Esera Tuaolo came out nearly five years ago, one of the more common reactions has been, "Man, why won't one of these jocks take the big step and admit their homosexuality while they're still active? Now, that would be groundbreaking."

Here's the answer: Most male professional athletes don't like, trust, or understand gays. These are human beings who were raised to think in a remarkably singular manner; to equate manhood not with open-mindedness or a big heart but with the ability to dunk or sprint or throw with immense power. Real men don't cry, don't admit pain, don't quit, and don't--under any circumstances--engage in sexual relations with someone of the same sex. As a former Washington Nationals relief pitcher named T.J. Tucker once told me, "I've got nothing against those people. But I don't get why anyone would want to be like that."

Because no active player from the "big four" male professional sports leagues--the NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball--has ever come out, we don't know what the repercussions would be. But here's a guess: In baseball, the most conservative of America's four major sports, beanballs would come hard, fast, and straight for the head. In football there'd be illegal chop blocks to the knees and late hits to the skull. Life inside the clubhouses would be unbearable--rubber penises hanging from locker stalls, soaps on ropes, Bible-thumpers damning gay players to hell and demanding trades from team owners. "I'm sure 'Gary Gay' is a nice fella," the quote would go, "but I don't need to be near no faggot. That stuff's contagious."

I'm no expert, but I can tell you this: Just a few weeks ago I took my wife and two children to Disney World for four days. We walked the park, rode the rides, and posed for myriad pictures with Mickey, Donald, Pluto, and the gang.

As far as I can tell, I'm still straight.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Jeff Perlman