Homophobia in professional sports hits home

Me, my dad (Jim Beauchamp) and brother Kash in 1969 when Dad played for the Cincinnati Reds

Fawn Rose, Pete Rose, me and my brother Kash Beauchamp

The culture of professional athletics is homophobic. I would venture to say it is getting better, but I remember just how bad things were when I was growing up around major league professional baseball players. My father was professional baseball player Jim Beauchamp. One of my first boyhood teenage crushes was for none other than umpire Dave Pallone who wrote the book, “Behind the mask” and he actually detailed the combative relationship he had with my father when Dad managed a minor league team, the Charleston Charlies, in Charleston, WV.

My father and I had an estranged relationship that evolved, and eventually grew to one of acceptance and mutual respect around the time of his passing. When he first discovered I was gay, well, all I’m going to say is it was a nightmare. I can’t help but think the dynamics of homophobia in the locker room played its part in making it more difficult for him to accept me. He spent his life in locker rooms where the pervasive message was any kind of gay slur was just part of the accepted lingo with the understanding “Faggots don’t play baseball” or far worse things, so why should anyone care what is said regarding “queers” in the confines of the locker room? I know it has to be an especially tough burden for gay professional athletes to contemplate coming out in an environment where there is perceived and actual pressure to be a stereotypical heterosexual manly-man archetype.

Sometimes I have wondered if baseball players ever stopped to consider there might be a possibility one of their children might be gay, would they stop with the hateful gay jokes and slurs? If they truly love their children unconditionally, they wouldn’t put up with it and maybe, one day soon, we would actually have a major league professional baseball player who had the nerve to make history and become an unforgettable positive example to the world. Just as it is detailed in Dave Pallone’s book, he had a romantic affair with one of baseball’s major leaguers, so it isn’t like we don’t already know they are there, but they are hidden deeper than deep in the closet.

It is just a matter of one gay professional major league baseball player saying, “Enough is enough! I am gay and I want to prove to other young gay athletes they can be themselves, a masculine gay athlete, and they don’t have to hide anymore.” Will they dare to be true to themselves and refuse to continue to promote the homophobia that not only damages themselves, but also the gay children of their colleagues? Gay Major League baseball players have more to lose than their self respect if they continue to compromise, and the straight players need to remember someone in their family might care very deeply what is being said about the gays in the locker rooms.

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