Last week, Baltimore Raves defensive tackle Brendan Ayanbadejo, an outspoken advocate for LGBT equality, said he hoped to use the Super Bowl as a platform to advocate for marriage equality and anti-bullying efforts. It’s no secret that there are players who don’t agree with Ayanbadejo’s advocacy, and one of his opponents this week is one of them.
During an interview with radio personality Artie Lange, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said he would not be welcoming of a gay player on his team, Yahoo! Sports reported:
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” said Culliver, whose Niners play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.”
“Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”
There are no openly gay players in the NFL or in the major American men’s sports leagues, but that obviously doesn’t mean there aren’t gay players in football. Kwame Harris, a former 49ers offensive lineman, was arrested this week after allegedly assaulting a man with whom he was in a romantic relationship, and multiple players have come out as gay after retirement.
San Francisco is, of course, an incredibly gay-friendly city, one that has been the site of much of the LGBT movement’s activism and history. The 49ers became the first team to film an anti-bullying “It Gets Better” video last August, and, in a moment Culliver probably wouldn’t enjoy, Sports Illustrated featured a picture of two male 49ers fans kissing in a bar as part of the magazine’s Super Bowl preview issue.
Former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross tweeted that Culliver was a “Leader for All-Ignorant Team”:
FoxSports.com NFL writer Alex Marvez tweeted that the 49ers have released a statement denouncing Culliver’s comments:
#49ers issued statement denouncing Chris Culliver's homophobic comments from Tuesday interview with Artie Lange. Say matter was "addressed."
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 30, 2013