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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Arduous Ascent of the Openly-Gay Male Athlete
Chapter 1. Inside the Sports Closet: Tensions of Hiding, Passing, and Outing
Chapter 2. Telling Your Story: PR Firms, Strategic Media, and the Power of Mass Messaging
Chapter 3. Anatomy of a Gay Sports Story: Assembling and Advancing the Coming Out of Jason Collins
Chapter 4. Playing “Out” in the Media: Framing Gay Athlete Stories
Chapter 5. Identity Politics: Gendered, Racial, and Religious Performativity
Chapter 6. The Floodgates Open? The Future of the Openly-Gay Athlete
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