Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/13/12
Last month, professional boxer Orlando Cruz publicly revealed that he is gay, making him one of the first athletes in professional sports to come out while still in the middle of his career. It’s natural to wonder what led to his decision to come out given all the distractions that come along with it. While it may be hard for some to believe, Cruz believes being open about his homosexuality can help him become a better fighter. “I have earned myself respect as an athlete,” Cruz told Spiegel when asked about his decision to come out. “I have only lost 2 out of 22 professional fights. I knocked out some of my opponents in the first round. But I never really received respect as a person. That’s something I had come to realize over the past few years. The end of my boxing career is no longer that far off, and it was time for me to make peace with myself. And there was a second reason for me to come out: I hoped it would make me a better boxer. “Until now, I have kept my personal life and my career strictly separate from each other. No one was supposed to know that I’m gay. This game of hide-and-seek was incredibly strenuous and it took a lot of energy out of me. Now I’m hoping that I can put that energy into my training.” The unfortunate truth is that Cruz would have to deal with distractions whether he came out or not. However, his explanation for revealing he is gay makes sense. Rather than having to worry about covering up his homosexuality or pretending he is someone he’s not, Cruz can now focus on training and becoming a better fighter. Cruz also said he knows a number of gay professional athletes and that there are more homosexuals in sports than we think. While a number of teams and star players have come out in support of the gay community, unfortunate instances like this one prove that there is still a long way to go. Hopefully someone like Cruz coming out inspires others to, at the very least, feel more comfortable in their own skin.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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