Tigers Player Would be Uncomfortable With An Out Teammate

By Crystal A. Proxmire

DETROIT - Detroit Tiger's right fielder Torii Hunter joined other professional sports players in reinforcing the stereotype that gays are not welcome in the hyper-masculine world of baseball and football.

In a Dec. 29th story for the LA Times, reporter Kevin Baxter asked Hunter about what his reaction would be to learning that someone on his team was gay. Hunter told him that an "out" teammate could divide a team.

"For me, as a Christian ... I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right," Hunter said. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."

The LA Times article also included the Twitter remark by New England Patriots' linebacker Brandon Spikes claiming to be homophobic, "just like I'm arachnophobic. I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I'd still scream if I found one in my bathtub."

Hunter later Tweeted about backlash to the article and released a statement saying, "I'm very disappointed in Kevin Baxter's article in which my quotes and feelings have been misrepresented. He took two completely separate quotes and made them into one quote that does not express how I feel as a Christian or a human being. I have love and respect for all human beings regardless of race, color or sexual orientation. I am not perfect and try hard to live the best life I can and treat all people with respect. If you know me you know that I am not anti anything and to be portrayed as anti-gay in this article is hurtful and just not true."

Hunter was recently signed to a two-year $26 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. He is a four time All Star who has played with the Minnesota Twins and the LA Angels.

This isn't the first controversial comment Hunter has made. In 2010 he did an interview with USA Today where he complained about Dominican players being categorized as black.

"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African American. They're not us. They're impostors," Hunter told USA Today. "Even people I know come up and say, 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.'

"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us," Hunter says. "It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'

"I'm telling you, it's sad."

The LA Times article also pointed out that while a scant number of former players have come out of the closet after their careers were over, not one player in the NBA, NHL, NFL or Major League Baseball has come forward while still on the job. Although some have come out after, including: David Kopay (Redskins running back), Billy Bean (Dodgers and Padres outfielder) and John Amaechi (NBA center-forward).

Earlier in 2012 former NFL Player Wade Davis did an interview with Out Sports, where he revealed having to hide his homosexual side, going so far as to spend large amounts in a straight strip club just to avoid suspicion. But he also told Between The Lines, in an Oct. 2012 interview, that he got more support after doing the Out Sports article than he'd expected. "When I initially agreed to do the interview, I didn't expect the reaction and feedback to be so massive. Many of my friends and ex-teammates were actually mad at me. Not because I announced my sexuality, as a gay man, but I didn't give them the opportunity to show me they'd still love me," Davis said.

After leaving the NFL, Davis played in a gay football league, then moved on to work with LGBT youth in New York.

To read more on the fear of homosexuality in the locker room, and the changing attitudes about it, check out the LA Times article at http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/29/sports/la-sp-sports-homophobia-20121230.

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