Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 3:19 pm  |  44 responses

Charles Barkley On Gay Athletes and Media Portrayal

In a radio interview taped on Monday, Charles Barkley offered up his opinion on the challenges faced by gay athletes in their prospective sports and the way the situation is commonly portrayed in the media:

“Charles Barkley is sick and tired of hearing how the sanctuary of the locker room is not ready for a male athlete in a major team sport to come out to his teammates, how awkward everyone would feel after they heard a teammate say, ‘I’m gay.’

Also weary of the perception that a majority of straight male athletes are intensely homophobic, Barkley said gay players pose no problem, adding, ‘Man, we need to outlaw guys who suck at sports.’

‘I really like ESPN,’ Barkley added. ‘They do a great job. But like once every two or three months, they bring all these people on there, and they tell me how me and my team are going to respond to a gay guy.

‘First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.’

‘Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot,’ Barkley said. ‘I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person.

‘First of all, society discriminates against gay people,” Barkley said. “They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all.’

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  • Trout

    Only Sir Charles…

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    “every player has played with gay guys”. Like who? Amechi, ok.. who else? Laettner? Kobe? Anyway, I’m glad that being gay is becoming more accepted, and not so frowned upon. (my wife and my brother’s wife have gay people in their family, and it blows my grandma’s mind. She refuses to be around them)

  • jflo

    who the heck is jflo?

  • Jono

    The Grizzlies have all played with a Gay…..ok lame joke out of my system.

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Charles makes an excellent point there. I especially like the part where he says he’d rather play with a gay teammate who can actually play, rather than a straight one who can’t. Black, white, straight, gay…it’s all about the game.

  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/features/overdribbling chiqo

    i like that barkley compared racial discrimination to gay discrimination. not quite the same thing, but in the same neighborhood.

  • @Deknowz

    *cough cough* Chris Bosh *cough cough*.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Kudos to Charles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    I love how outspoken Sir Charles is. I betcha he probably will come out next week and accuse Chris Bosh of being gay

  • OneStep

    When Barkley says that every player has played with gay guys he is implying that those players would not necessarily know that they had done so as so many gay athletes have been afraid to come out. There are undoubtedly gay guys playing in all sports right now and no one in those locker rooms is any the wiser. All this highlights how ridiculous it is for such prejudice to exist: if you get along with a guy when you don’t know that they’re gay then you should just as easily get along once you do.

  • http://www.slamoline.com Max

    *cough cough* Miami Heat *cough cough*

  • Jono

    @OneStep Wot if he loves you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    I’m kidding about Chris Bosh

  • SikhWitIt

    “stone-freakin idiot”

    Gotta love Sir Charles

  • robb

    There are gay referees too, like Bennie Adams…

  • flipnoyce

    Big up to Sir Charles!!!! I too would rather have a gay guy in my team who could play vs someone who poses the ideal part. Heck, half of the players in the league has no business being in there, just because they’re tall.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    LMAO @ Robb

  • EtheKnickFan

    whats funny to see is when someone gay gets harassed by a straight guy then whups the straight guys ass THAT’s hilarious.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uk3FWToczA EJ

    What’s the difference with racial and gay discrimination? Don’t say it’s a choice, cause that is incorrect. Only outdated homophobic “scientific” studies say that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uk3FWToczA EJ

    And I don’t think you can blame athletes for saying they haven’t played with gay people, since so many stay in the closet. Besides I don’t know what’s the big deal about your teammates knowing your sexuality? If you’re gay then you’re gay, don’t have to rub it in people’s face like some do.

  • robb

    “If you’re gay then you’re gay, don’t have to rub it in people’s face like some do.” True. Mutual respect is necessary.

  • http://www.nba.com/celtics lights out

    cosign Chiqo. a smart analogy by Chuck.

  • Groves

    @boss terry, just because a player hasn’t come out doesn’t make them straight

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    I hear Benny the Bull is bi-curious..

  • http://www.morethanbasketballmg.net More Than Basketball


  • MikeC.

    Whatever kind of hole you prefer to stick it in, or have it stuck in, or whatever, don’t do what makes you ‘feel’ happy. Do what makes you BE happy. You are who you are. Be you.
    Those are the words I gave to my recently out of the closet cousin, and I hope they work for him.
    Word to The Sir.

  • Dre

    It’s almost like the athletes are like the military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I’m an ex athlete and I never paid it any attention. One athlete I know who was uncomfortable with it told me that he viewed it this way. Any heterosexual man that has a chance to dress and be in the locker room with women is going to look and let his imagination run wild. not with every chic but he will spot the one he is attracted to and go there in his mind. He said, it is unrealistic to think tat gay person wouldn’t do the same. I said, ok but if they are hiding it, then they could already be doing that and you would never know it or suspect it. He said, that’s my point I won’t know that he might possibly be thinking of me or someone else ina sexual manner. I said, so it’s the knowing that bothers you and he told me… yes.

  • Dre

    I’m like Barkley I would rather have a gay person with game over a straight person with no game.

  • bill

    Is the locker room for sex? Aren’t women allowed into the men’s locker room? Are men allowed into the women’s locker rooms. Is heterosexuality being shoved down anyone’s throat?

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    Nice work Deknowz, Max, Robb – you managed to use ‘gay’ as an insult and a joke after an article about sexuality not being relevant to sport. Nice work. You’re exactly the kind of idiots who makes it harder for people to be out and proud.

  • cklyn sazer

    HEY EJ the biggest difference between gay and black in the discrimination dept. is that black people can’t wake up tmrw and say I’m not black. I remember when Ellem was married to some chic and now that women is in a heterosexual relationship. Being black in the locker room is pretty obvious, being gay isn’t. IT IS A SEXUAL PREFERENCE emphasis on PPRREEFFEERREENNCCEE. Hey, being gay is what it is, they have good and bad apples like heterosexual people, but get over yourselves already.

  • robb

    @Ugh I think you are the kind of idiot who makes it harder for people to be out and proud by overreacting. Gay people can take a joke, I know it because I have gay friends. You don’t impress anyone with your rights defender complex.


    It really makes no differance, gay or straight. Kuddos to Sir Charles!

  • howwez

    i agree with everything bubbachuck said in regards to anyone who says they haven’t played with or couldn’t play with a gay person. regardless whether you know their gay or not,if they can play,they can play.just cause dude your dog,and can’t ball a lick,you don’t pick him over the mo if you like to win and the dude games better.

  • PaulT

    @ cklyn sazer (1:10): Saying being gay is a preference is the same as saying its a choice, which is one of the “classic” features of much homophobic thought (to essentially repeat what EJ said at 6:12). And, just to be a smart ass, if being gay is a preference, then so is being straight, which means there’s nothing “natural” about being straight (i.e. it’s just a preference). The funny thing is, the logical outcome of this preference thinking may, in some cases, be the basis of the discomfort that Dre recounted in his 11:17 post. That is, if being gay or straight is a preference, then the discomfort is based on the possibility (which may in fact be a real desire, which is often the case for homophobes) of “changing teams”.

  • cklynsazer

    @paulT I wasn’t so much “saying” that it was a preference, as much as I was quoting the definition (homosexual), and without getting too much into this because I could care less what someones’ preference is unless I am personally involved with that person, but the “natural” part of male and female has more to do with reproduction and family. But hey, go fly your kite with someone else, I’m just sick of gay people saying everyone hates them, much like barkley was trying to get across. don’t assume that because it’s not fair.

  • Coach K

    It doesn’t really matter- words from ” The Roc” what’s good about America is that we have all types and kinds which makes our country the greatest still.

  • Commish

    Ugh you really are an idiot the worst kind one that doesn’t know it. Anyhoo, the point is professional sports is about winning and whatever it takes within the rules to win teams do i.e. James, Wade, Bosh team up, or hard fouls and long hard work outs. The first time an openly gay athelete is a major factor in winning a championship no one will care who they sleep with. However if their gay and fight dogs its tar and feather time.

  • Benzito

    good job, charles.

  • @Deknowz

    @Robb, I could kiss you on the mouth!lol Dude,my daughter’s godmother is a Lesbian and one of my best friends is possibly the gayest man in America UGH! (The first one to tell me that Chris Bosh was and I quote “The biggest bag of skittles he’d ever seen”)lol. So everytime I see homosexuality viewed as this hot button topic where armchair philosophers like UGH try to tell me how homophobic I am all I can laugh. People first, everything else after, so I will continue to love and laugh at EVERYONE! That means you UGH ;o)

  • Shag

    Tell it like it is Chuck. I had a prominent L.A. sports doctor tell me that anywhere from 30-40 of male athletes are either bi or gay.

  • Dre

    @Deknowz… I agree but i got a friend who is gay and he told me that gay people think their gaydar is much better than it really is. Bosh has one of the finest girlfriends I have seen. We all know that might not necessarily mean anything but… just throwing it out there. You gotta understand Bosh happens to be a nerd playing sports so he might come off different to others. He is a 4.0 kid out of high school, went to G. Tech and majored in graphic design and computer imaging. He’s a big time techie and nerd, so overly macho people might view him as gay or even some gay people might think that. He could be but I could careless.

  • jorge

    Chuck is right! We’ve all been in gym class, and I know there where a few gay fellow students who mostly kept to themselves, and if they made a pass be assertive enough to say not interested. Your 24 Hour Fitness or Bally’s I’m sure there are gay people in the locker rooms, but as I said, as long as no fuss is made, they keep to themselves. I hold no fascination about this topic for better or worse.

  • Vance Rawlings

    Chico, I assure you, black and gay are the same thing relative to having a choice in the matter. But thanks for being supportive. If a person can do a thing well, they should be celebrated.