New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush has joined a small, but growing number of male professional athletes who are speaking out about gay issues.
In Reggie’s case, he tweeted a question to his followers: "If someone says 'no homo,' is that offensive towards gay people?"
Then followed up later by tweeting: "I think if the 'no homo' comment offends anybody then it's most likely better left unsaid along with other degrading words ... thanks guys!"
If you have no idea what “no homo” is all about, you can read my November 9, 2009 blog to catch up.
The point is that Reggie asked a thoughtful question, got some replies and made a decision to come down on the side of respect.
It might seem to some folks like a small step to take: making a public declaration about choosing not to use language that LGBTQ people and our friends find offensive. However, imagine how it would change a locker room, a school, a workplace if everyone in it made the same decision. I don’t want to appear overdramatic, but it literally can save lives.
When a high profile athlete, like Reggie Bush, chooses to take a public stand, it matters because, whether they or we like or not, thousands of young people look up to them, copy them, want to be like them. One Reggie Bush standing up publicly equals about 100 people like me standing up and saying the same thing. Look at the press this one little tweet sparked.
We are facing an epidemic of suicides by young people in schools who were bullied by peers using anti-gay slurs and more. High visibility athletes, both men and women, send important messages whether by their silence, their casual use of anti-gay slurs or by their intentional decision to speak out for LGBTQ rights and against anti-gay name-calling and bullying.
I am a Patriots fan, but because of Reggie, I think I’ll also be rooting for the Saints this post season.
Tom Brady, where are you on this issue?