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Media and the Coming Out of Gay Male Athletes in American Team Sports


Andrew Billings and Leigh Moscowitz

Never before have we lived in a time in which sport and gay identity are more visible, discussed, debated—and even celebrated. However, in an era in which the sports closet is heralded as the last remaining stronghold of heterosexuality, the terrain for the gay athlete remains contradictory at best. Gay athletes in American team sports are thus living a paradox: told that sport represents the "final closet" in American culture while at the same time feeling ostracized, labeled a "distraction" for teams, dubbed locker room "problems," and experiencing careers which are halted or cut short altogether.

Media and the Coming Out of Gay Male Athletes in American Team Sports is the first of its kind, building upon the narratives of athletes and how their coming out experiences are shaped, transmitted and received through pervasive, powerful, albeit imperfect commercial media. Featuring in-depth interviews with out-athletes such as Jason Collins, Dave Kopay, Billy Bean and John Amaechi; media gatekeepers from outlets like ESPN and USA Today; and league representatives from Major League Baseball and the National Football League, this book explores one of the starkest juxtapositions in athletics: there are no active out players in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, yet the number of athletes coming out at virtually every other level of sport is unprecedented. Interviews are fused with qualitative media analysis of coming out stories and informed by decades of literature on the unique intersection of sport, media, and sexual identity.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataNames: Billings, Andrew C., author. | Moscowitz, Leigh, author. Title: Media and the coming out of gay male athletes in American team sports / Andrew C. Billings and Leigh M. Moscowitz. Description: New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang, 2018. Series: Communication, sport, and society; v. 1 | ISSN 2576-7232 Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018010181 | ISBN 978-1-4331-5600-7 (hardback: alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4331-5601-4 (paperback: alk. paper) | ISBN 978-1-4331-5602-1 (ebook pdf) ISBN 978-1-4331-5603-8 (epub) | ISBN 978-1-4331-5604-5 (mobi) Subjects: LCSH: Gay athletes—United States. | Male athletes—Social conditions. Gays and sports—United States. | Mass media and sports—United States. Sports—Social aspects—United States. Classification: LCC GV708.8.B55 2018 | DDC 796.086/642—dc23 LC record available at DOI 10.3726/b13532 Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2018 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

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