This is Super Bowl week and as we all prepare for the national and global holiday that Super Bowl Sunday has become one of my favorite story lines is openly gay Katie Sowers. She’s an assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers and has already made history by being the first female and openly gay assistant coach in the NFL, and just like in the playoffs this season, she will also be the first out and proud lesbian to coach in the Super Bowl. How exciting and cool is that?
Some sports fans might not understand why the LGBTQ community takes so much pride in this accomplishment like this but for those of us who have experienced what life in the shadows is like we absolutely get it. If history and experience have taught us anything it tells us that living in the darkness and secrecy of the closet is soul killing individually and an enemy to equality and acceptance. Visibility is like direct sunlight on the garden of progress. We cannot effectively combat the myths and lies that are spread about us we if don’t live openly and honestly at work and at home.
I think this is especially true in the world of sports where gay athletes and coaches are almost non-existent. Sports culture is built upon the foundations of competition and hyper-masculinity in this country. The idea that a “real man” can’t be a professional athlete and LGBTQ at the same time is a barrier that still needs to be conquered. The idea that gays in sports would disrupt locker rooms and destroy team chemistry are still prevalent today and have been for decades. That’s why we need trail blazers like Katie Sowers, and many others, to stand in the gap and break down the walls of untruth and discrimination. In the world of sports it’s long overdue.