NFL Comes Out in Support of LGBTQ Inclusion But Gay Players Stay Silent

Over the past few years, the NFL has increased its public support of the LGBTQ+ community, as seen by initiatives led by Commissioner Roger Goodell and organizations like the Buffalo Bills, but does the organization’s support really match the beliefs of its coaches and players?

Roger Goodell’s Commitment to LGBTQ+ Inclusion

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In a recent speech, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell highlighted the organization’s support for LGBTQ+ players during the 2024 Annual League Meeting.

Making Us Better

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In the speech, Goodell said, “Diversity makes us better and LGBTQ people continue to contribute to the success of the NFL.”

Having Their Back

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Goodell continued his point by explaining that he has “both publicly and privately, I’ve made clear that if any member of the NFL family comes out, we will have their back.”

 Goodell’s Personal Connection

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Goodell’s advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights is far from surprising due to his own personal connection with the community, thanks to his brother Michael being gay. 

Proud of His Brother

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When asked about his brother and their relationship in interviews, Goodell said, “I love Michael and I’m proud of him.”

Partnerships With LGBTQ+ Organizations

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Since Goodell became the NFL commissioner, the organization has partnered with organizations like GLAAD and the Trevor Project to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity. 

Getting GLAAD

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GLAAD, short for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is a non-profit organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ advocacy and cultural change, focusing on media representation to combat homophobia and discrimination.

Creating Space for LGBTQ+ Fans

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GLAAD President and CEO​, Sarah Kate has said, “GLAAD’s partnership with the NFL is committed to creating spaces where all fans can celebrate and to growing important visibility for LGBTQ fans at the Super Bowl and all season long.” 

Reducing Mental Health Risks

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The Trevor Project is a leading organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth, with initiatives like a 24/7 crisis hotline, counseling services, and educational resources aimed at reducing the mental health risks faced by young LGBTQ+ individuals​.

Boosting Life-Saving Awareness

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When discussing the NFL’s partnership with the Trevor Project, Goodell said, “Our partnership with the Trevor Project is boosting awareness of this life-saving organization.”

Impact of Carl Nassib’s Coming Out

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Former defensive end and linebacker for the Cleveland Browns, Carl Nassib was the last publicly gay NFL player who came out in 2021 and was widely praised for his bravery and impact on LGBTQ+ visibility in sports​.

Finally Feeling Comfortable

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When coming out, Nassib said, “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

Contributing to the NFL’s Success

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After Nassib came out, Goodell said, “Each coming out has confirmed what I’ve always known to be true: Diversity makes us better and LGBTQ people continue to contribute to the success of the NFL.”

The Disconnect

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Despite these kind words, there still seems to be some kind of disconnect between these statements and what is really happening within the stadiums of the NFL.

LGBTQ+ Identification Trends

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LGBTQ+ identification in the U.S. has grown significantly in the twenty-first century, with 7.6% of U.S. adults identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community, with steady increases with each younger generation.

At Least One Player

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Even if the NFL’s player base is less than half as gay as the rest of the country, there would still be at least one gay player on every team, but there are currently zero openly gay players within the organization.

Stopping Gay Players

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Because of this, it would seem that there is still something happening in the NFL that is stopping its gay players from feeling comfortable enough to come out and let the world know who they are.

The Kicker’s Speech

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Recently, the  Kansas City Chief’s kicker brought himself into the center of a media frenzy after delivering an anti-LGBTQ+ graduation speech at Benedictine College.

The Petition for Butker

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There was even a petition created that demanded Butker be removed from the Kansas City Chiefs and garnered over 85,000 signatures following the speech.

Dehumanizing Remarks

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The petition stated, “These dehumanizing remarks against LGBTQ+ individuals, attacks on abortion rights, and racial discrimination perpetuate division and undermine human rights.” 

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The post NFL Comes Out in Support of LGBTQ Inclusion, So Why Are There No Openly Gay Players? first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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