Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/30/13

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 18: Offensive lineman Kwame Harris #77 of the San Francisco 49ers during a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on August 18, 2007 at Monster Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)
Kwame Harris is officially out of the closet in a very public way — but not by his own choice. After the former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle got into an altercation with an ex-boyfriend in January, he was forced to confront his sexuality to the public. Harris remained private about the issue until Friday, when he confirmed he is gay in an interview with CNN. Harris said he always knew he was gay, but chose to keep it secret throughout his football career because he “didn’t see those two things as being compatible.” Harris retired from the NFL in 2008. The fact that there is another openly gay ex-NFL player is a great thing, but does the media’s witch-hunt coverage of  Harris’ private life truly justify the end result? There are no active, openly gay athletes in the NFL, but over the past few weeks, conversations have swirled about a current NFL player potentially coming out of the closet in the near future. The report created a firestorm of news and opinions, both positive and negative. It seems, according to the report, that many locker rooms actually feel prepared to embrace a gay teammate. If the media coverage of Harris is any indication, however, coverage of the “out” player will be disproportionately directed toward continuing to make that player feel like an outsider, even if his peers accept him in the locker room. Openly gay athletes will genuinely help our society progress in the direction of equality, without a doubt. But the fact that the media is making such a spectacle out of  Harris’ situation is a sign that the media itself isn’t ready for an openly gay, active NFL player. That’s right — it isn’t the NFL fans nor the teammates, but the media that isn’t ready. This is not to say that gay athletes should stay in the closet, though. It’s sad that Harris felt he would not have been able to handle coming out of the closet publicly while he was in the league, but it’s no surprise that he didn’t after seeing the bright spotlight he’s been put under since his revelation. The fact that “gay ex-NFL player” is a trending topic on the Internet on Saturday, March 30, 2013, is a sad sign that society is not ready for this. Media outlets using phrases like, “a former offensive tackle for the 49ers and the Raiders recently admitted to being gay in an interview with CNN,” and, “Suspicions of Harris’ homosexuality first spiked after he was arrested in January after a dispute with a supposed boyfriend,” just bring a negative light to the coverage, as if his being gay was something sneaky to be found out. If the rumored gay NFL player were to come out of the closet, even privately just to teammates and his organization, media reports would explode. Attention would be placed on that athlete for their entire season (and longer) which could also bring about resentment among teammates. All of that fuss for a person who is just trying to live their life as honestly and openly as they possibly can. Harris told CNN, “I’m gay and I’m a former athlete and I think I’m a pretty normal guy.” That sentiment showcases the problem with the media’s lopsided coverage of Harris’ legal issue. Harris’ story could have easily been framed around the domestic violence dispute, as it is for many other professional athletes in heterosexual relationships. Unfortunately, it does happen relatively often. Media reporting usually covers the legal process, but doesn’t follow-up confirming the athlete involved is, in fact, a heterosexual, as the media has with Harris nearly three months later. It’s unfortunate that such a negative event was the catalyst that forced the revelation of intimate details about Harris’ personal life, when he clearly intended to keep it personal. Equality is a fundamental right for all human beings, but it should be on one’s own terms. In the process of the media trying to make a story out of the fact that an NFL player is gay by spotlighting them and focusing interviews on that topic, they risk ostracizing that individual even more. Being the first person to do or be any certain thing is sure to garner attention, but until gay equality has become normalized in our society, being out and being in the NFL — a traditionally heteronormative, macho-man sport — will not be compatible. The issue is not that Kwame Harris is gay. The issue is that the media is making it an issue that he is.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jim Mora turns P. Diddy fight into recruiting pitch for UCLA

Illinois releases results of women's basketball probe

Richie Incognito named starter by Rex Ryan

DeMarco Murray isn't thrilled Eagles limited reps in practice

Brandon Weeden: 'God forbid I am forced to play' for Dallas

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ben Roethlisberger: Markus Wheaton is ready to break out

Hernandez tipster allegedly had sexual relationship with him

Rookie WR Tyler Lockett has Pete Carroll, Seahawks gushing

Packers TE returns to practice in wake of family tragedy

DeSean Jackson: Revis, Sherman can't stop me

Rob Gronkowski on Patriots LB Jamie Collins: ‘He’s a freak’

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger Woods on Twitter

Report: Rousey to star in film based on her autobiography

Porn star offers to cook meal for any sports champion

Why everyone is wrong about Cowboys Tony Romo, Part 1

Oregon was only team drug tested during CFB Playoff?

Five 2nd year NBA players ready to take the next step

John Daly wants to be US Ryder Cup captain

Rodgers appears in another Olivia Munn workout video

Matt Hasselbeck is still getting random drug tests

Five teams that won at the MLB trade deadline

What should be expected from Aaron Rodgers in 2015?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is waiting for Tim Duncan to match him

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker