Unfortunately, homophobia in the world of sports is a big problem, even though there have been great strides. And now, we’ve got another bit of happy news: ESPN Commentator Israel Gutierrez has not only come out of the closet publicly, but he’s getting married on Saturday!
In an in-depth blog post, Gutierrez details the process of coming to terms with his homosexuality. He talks about his own internalized homophobia and navigating his lack of sexual interest in women growing up:
It’s probably no accident that I ballooned in weight during my teenage years because, frankly, not many girls want to date the big kid, so all the peer pressure to date girls was essentially a non-factor.
I dated some, over the years, but it never got past a few dates. Looking back, it was odd that I made the conscious decision not to get seriously involved with the very few women I dated, because I didn’t want them to get hurt or even allow them to waste their time with me. And yet, whenever I even came close to accepting myself as being gay, something else would reignite my denial.
At some point, beginning in my mid-20s, I found myself repeating a troubling cycle. I’d gather up just enough confidence to visit a gay establishment (and when I say “gather up the confidence” it meant only doing so when I’m out of my home state, and only after circling around the place several times, drawing up the courage to walk inside).
Every time, I’d end up unhappier when I left.
The nudge that pushed Gutierrez to accepting himself was a profile he’d read about Gareth Thomas, the openly gay rugby player. Gutierrez saw himself in a lot of Thomas’ struggles to come to terms with who he was.
Thankfully, in 2009, he met David Kitchen, the man who’d become Gutierrez’s fiance. It was love at first sight, and the final nudge he needed to come out to his family and friends:
I still remember the moment the revelation swept over me. I had been so dumb.
Here I was, surrounded daily by the most amazing family a person could ask for, and the most amazing, supportive friends anyone could ask for, and I was worried that I couldn’t tell them this?
Within two weeks, I’d come out to my sisters, then the rest of my family. Shortly after that, to my friends.
They were my outlet, my strength and my allies the whole time. And I was so caught up in my own head, worried about being judged, that I shut them out.
The happy couple got engaged in February 2014. We wish them both a long, happy marriage!