In an interview with The New York Times, Kevin McClatchy, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, says he is a gay man and he kept his sexuality private because of homophobic slurs in professional sports.
Forty-nine year old McClatchy, who owned the baseball team from 1996-2007, says he wants to start a dialogue about sexuality in the sporting world.
He told The Times that over the past four decades, “Tens of thousands of people have played either professional Minor League Baseball or Major League Baseball [and] not one has come out and said that they are gay while they’re playing.”
McClatchy, who is now the board chairman at the McClatchy Company newspaper chain, which owns more than two dozen newspapers including The Miami Herald, said players, coaches, managers and executives who are gay, are afraid to speak openly about their sexuality.
“You’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue,” McClatchy told the newspaper.
He went on to say he was “more paranoid, for sure, about people…..and suspicious, definitely, and angry.”
McClatchy told the newspaper he frequently heard homophobic language while he was with MLB. He said that language forced him to to stay in the closet, but now that he is about to turn 50 he doesn’t want to lie about who he is anymore.
“I am sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it.” He said he doesn’t want “to go into the rest of [his] existence and ever have to hide [his] personal life again.”
According to the New York Times, of the four major professional sports leagues—football, baseball, basketball and hockey, no athlete, coach or manager came out of the closet while they were still actively involved in sports.
Longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, then with the Phoenix Suns, shined a light on sexuality in sports last year when he announced he was gay.