David Jones reports in today’s Harrisburg Patriot News that former Penn State and retired NBA star John Amaechi will reveal that he is gay in a new book to be released on February 20. Amaechi will also be featured in a segment on ESPN’s Outside the Lines next Tuesday or Wednesday.
And my initial overriding thought was, boy, I wonder how the homophobes in central Pennsylvania would feel if they knew. All those straitlaced Penn State faithful who thought Amaechi was one bundle of things they adored.
And, yes, Amaechi was all those things — devoted to his school, a brilliant analytical thinker, a determined player who made himself better every year, an active and exceedingly human advocate of the State College community beyond the borders of the campus.
I wondered what they would think if they knew he was something else they abhorred out of hand based on preconceived convictions.
As Pennsylvania sports go, Amaechi is not on the level of recognition of Donovan McNabb or Jerome Bettis or Allen Iverson, but he is known among PA sports fans. And that just might be a good thing. As Jones implies, perhaps this is an opportunity for people who have admired Amaechi all these years but who are also disrespectful of gays and lesbians to think twice. No one is naive enough to think that it will stop the hardcore homophobes, but it might be another opportunity to move the ball forward on LGBT issues.
Jones refers to Amaechi’s character in his column, and to give more of an idea of the kind of guy he is, here is Amaechi (in the white t-shirt) with a group of Special Olympics players in the U.K.
Andy in the HBG