Can Taylor Swift bring the gays to the yard line?
Author: Marc Freden
Well, it is finally here, Super Bowl LVIII. And beyond the commercials and the halftime show, I actually enjoy the game. But am I a rare gay-thusiast or has Taylor Swift brought the LGBTQ+ audience to embrace a game that doesn’t traditionally embrace us?
Sports is not supposed to be gay or straight or bi. It’s supposed to be a vicarious adventure of empowerment whereby a seat on the couch invites a chance to feel better about yourself by aligning with the winner…or similarly feeling empathy with those in defeat. Do do queer people really belong in this bastion of uber masculinity?
For the record, the locker room isn’t a bathhouse, but it shouldn’t be a closet either as it was for the now out and proud Colton Underwood (whose career included stints with the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and Philadelphia Eagles before turning to reality television stardom); Colton was honest about both the homophobia and homoeroticism that takes place in the male-only dens.
There have been several gay football players who came out after retirement, making a statement but avoiding the presumed harassment. And just recently, one brave soul, Carl Nassib, who came out of the closet in 2022 as the only rostered gay player, declared he was hanging up his cleats and retiring. Nassib’s departure leaves us with no queer apparent in the league. Was being out in the NFL just too terrible?
The point is, did you even know about Carl? He was relatively unscathed and, more importantly, unremarkable as far as players. And that is the way it should be, unremarkable. To be gay in your profession is “what” you are, not “who” you are. Who you are is what makes you remarkable. We need to reach the kind of normalcy whereby gays on the gridiron will be just another celebrated day job not a salacious gay job.
But there is too much money at risk in the game to create controversy. Which is why even Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and girlfriend Taylor Swift were on the down low early on rather than trying to create a spectacle. This a not a field of play but a battlefield and making a stand will pay a price. Take Colin Kaepernick who took a knee and then took the fall by making a political statement and kneeling during the national anthem, causing other players to follow suit and the league eventually having to address the right for players to use the game to protest. It cost Kaepernick his career. Because the sacrifice of one is better than the empowerment of all.
Coming out of the closet isn’t a protest, but it does disturb the status quo. So, we have a long way to go. But like with any field of dreams, if you build it they will come. But you have to think of it as an evolution not a revolution, like the decades-long battle for LGBTQ+ people to serve openly in the military. Currently, there are nearly 1,700 professional football players and not one is out. We have a long way to go.
Can Taylor Swift brings the gays to the game, at least audience-wise? Maybe? Our community will really start to care about the game when nobody cares that there are gays in the game. Then we will have reached the desired normalcy and inclusion. And that is the kind of team we can all get behind.
Change is coming, despite the towel snapping, testosterone-laden locker room hijinx. It just may not be a swift as everyone hopes.
Marc Freden is an author, television producer, and broadcast journalist.
Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Marc Freden