Joyner theorizes why lesbian athletes are able to come out with little controversy but gay male athletes are not:
Part of the answer is the intermixture of sexuality and gender are different. We’re just barely at the point where extreme athletic prowess—especially in a body that’s unusually tall or muscular—in a women is compatible with general notions of femininity. Indeed, not all that long ago, women who were particularly strong and engaged in traditionally male activities like basketball were presumed to be lesbians. Conversely, while our notions have thankfully evolved tremendously, there’s still a widespread notion that gay males are less than manly. And, of course, male athletes are considered the height of masculinity. So, there’s a paradox at work for male athletes that doesn’t exist for their female counterparts.
No shit, Sherlock. But there’s also the issue of team sports versus individual sports. Openly gay male athletes are more common in, say, swimming and diving than in football or baseball. The culture of heterosexuality in all-male teams, especially teams united by a common goal of winning games, can be overwhelming – especially given the dynamics Joyner notes. It’s by no means insuperable. It just takes a lot of courage.
(Video: Superstar Brittney Griner in action. Last week, she was selected as the #1 WNBA draft pick and came out as gay.)