Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Former NFL player Wade Davis now speaks publicly about what it was like to be closeted in the National Football League (Photos courtesy Wade Davis)

 When Wade Davis came out as a gay man last summer and spoke publicly about what it was like to be closeted in the National Football League, the news not only made waves in the NFL, but also forced his parents to deal with the fact their son is gay.

Former NFL player Wade Davis
“I grew up in the south and my family is very religious,” said the Louisiana-born Davis, who began his professional football career after attending Weber State University in Utah. “Thankfully, my mother has come full circle. She used to be very much against (homosexuality), whereas my father still refers to it as a ‘lifestyle choice.’ To be honest, my father and I are still not in a good place. But it took me 15 years to be okay with being gay, so I feel I need to give them time as well.”

Davis, a former defensive back, never cracked a 53-man NFL roster. But he was signed as a free agent by the Tennessee Titans and played in the preseason for the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks before moving on to NFL Europe, where he played for the Barcelona Dragons and the Berlin Thunder.

This past weekend, Davis closed Montreal’s fifth annual Afro-Caribbean gay and lesbian film festival, Massimadi, with a free public lecture at the Imperial Theatre, where he talked about how he worked hard to maintain his “straight” cover in the NFL.

“In my football days, I was one of the guys, I was very well liked, so I had this persona to keep up,” Davis told me. “I’d even go to strip clubs with the team to keep up my image of being a strong, heterosexual, masculine man. I remember spending my (entire first paycheque) in a strip club trying to act like one of the guys.

“This pressure didn’t really come from my teammates, it was more (from) how I grew up in the south. I believed being gay meant you were weak. So I tried really hard to push against that. By the time I got to college and the NFL (at age of 21 in 2000), coming out was not even an option.”