On March 15th 2013, Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz won his second professional boxing match since coming out as a gay man. Cruz defeated Aalan Martinez with a knockout in the sixth round. Cruz is currently the only professional male athlete out of the closet in North America. Now think about it, no gay male athlete is out in the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL, they are all in the closet. No professional golfer or male tennis pro is out! So why are the vast majority of gay male athletes in pro sports not coming out?
There are numerous theories for the reasons gay male athletes in professional sports choose to remain closeted. The obvious one is money, some gay male athletes probably fear coming out means they might lose sponsorship deals. Another reason is, gay male athletes worry the media scrutiny might be intense and they lose their privacy. Some people believe sexuality is a private matter.
In professional sports, it is obvious heterosexuality is not only present it is engendered in the media. The media obsess over the heterosexual pro athletes love lives in the press. However, homosexuality is still treated as though it should be private and not public. Gay people should not feel ashamed about being gay and that’s why Orlando Cruz is a hero! Orlando Cruz is illustrating through competing active in boxing he’s a proud gay man and that takes a lot of guts.
The general public and the media are cognizant that there are gay men in pro sports yet these men are reticent to reveal their sexuality.
Last month, Robbie Rogers a professional American soccer player did come out of the closet but he also quit at the tender age of twenty five. Rogers wrote an eloquent essay on his blog about the struggles he had to deal with in his life. Rogers has stepped away from professional soccer.
However, Orlando Cruz is out and a proud gay man he’s competing in boxing yet he’s not getting the press coverage he deserves.
One argument is, it is easier for Orlando Cruz to come out because boxing is an individual sport but it wasn’t easy for him at all. Cruz came out after getting the support of his mother, his trainers, and he did it for himself to live his life on his own terms. Cruz has a tremendous amount of courage and mental strength to come out and compete professionally in boxing.
So, why isn’t Orlando Cruz on the cover of the gay magazines or mainstream publications? Is it an issue of race? Is it because Cruz isn’t white? Is it because Cruz is a boxer and not competing in a professional team sport?
The image of the gay man in mainstream North America is a very myopic one. Usually, the stereotypical image is of a young, white, middle to upper class college educated white homosexual man. Television shows like Glee and Modern Family engender this white gay male image.
Orlando Cruz isn’t the first gay man to come out in professional sports but he’s one of the few to come out while his career is still active. It is important to point out, gay male athletes usually come out after their career ends because they have nothing to lose.
Cruz deserves so much credit because he as a Latino gay man he is challenging the homophobia within his own community and the boxing community.
It is disappointing though, that Cruz despite his success isn’t getting the media coverage he deserves due to his race and cultural background.
Cruz is a real hero because he knows there are homophobes in the boxing community who resent the fact he’s openly gay yet he isn’t hiding in the closet.
Boxing is a very macho sport, Orlando Cruz is a hero to the Puerto Rican community he is smashing the stereotypes that a gay man cannot be masculine, strong, and be a good athlete. Cruz is also a very successful boxer. However, Orlando Cruz isn’t white he’s Latino. The mainstream and gay press seem to want the gay Jackie Robinson to be a white gay man not a gay man of colour.