Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo caused a stir last week when he told the media that as many as four current gay NFL players are considering revealing their sexuality to the public together, so as to alleviate the pressure each would face individually.
Those comments were picked up by national media outlets and received a great deal of coverage. However, another controversial statement regarding gay NFL figures garnered far less fanfare. In fact, in most cases, it was ignored entirely.
Could it be that, while the culture of pro football is on the brink of embracing gay players, the subject of gay mascots is still too shocking to be discussed openly?
“We’ve also been in talks with mascots who are thinking about coming out,” Ayanbadejo said last week. “It may not be as big a deal as the players, but it’s a huge deal to the mascots themselves. This is their livelihood we’re talking about. They shouldn’t have to cavort and caper as their true selves only behind closed doors.”
Ayanbadejo wouldn’t give any timetable as to when the gay mascots would come out, but said that the announcement could happen “very soon” and that mopeds and fireworks could be involved.
“It’s also a tricky situation because mascots don’t speak, at least in the sense that fans do, so it’s not like a bunch of mascots can just go on camera and say that they’re gay,” he said. “They have to do it through gestures. We’re working with them to come up with a set of gestures that would communicate the message without coming off as disturbing or offensive.”
Another murky aspect of the situation is the distinction between the mascots and the people who don the costumes.
“No, the people who act as the mascots are not gay,” Ayanbadejo said. “It’s the characters themselves that are gay. I understand that this is an awkward concept for the general public to understand, but it is a bedrock LGBT issue in the mascot community.”
One of the four mascots agreed to meet with KSK off the record. When asked about its sexual orientation, the mascot rubbed its crotch in a clockwise motion, pointed to a writer’s butt then gave a thumbs up sign. The message seemed clear.