During the Atlanta Braves May 4 baseball home game against the San Francisco Giants, Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies physically comforted his teammate, outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. by holding Acuña close and rubbing his head during an intimate moment in the dugout. Considering that there’s only one openly gay male athlete in all of American pro-sports — a result of widespread homophobia and toxic masculinity — seeing two pro-athletes comfort each other in public is a welcome sight in the competitive and hyper-masculine world of sports.
Although the sports commentators in the clip below initially laugh at the display of male affection — asking, “What in the world do we have here?” and later joking that Acuña is having some “nap time” — the main commentator soon reduces his laughter, noting Albies giving Acuña a scalp massage and then calling the two teammates “best of friends.”
Then, in a seeming recognition of what these two men are sharing, the commentators imagine dialogue between Albies and Acuña saying, “Listen, I think I’m a little stressed right now. I need to find a way to relax,” and, “Come over here, I gotcha. I gotcha. I’ve got just the thing.”
It’s kind of remarkable.
Here’s the video of Ozzie Albies comforting Ronald Acuña Jr.
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Homophobia still dominates sports. A 2015 survey of 9,500 athletes from six English-speaking countries found 83% of male athletes remain closeted to their teammates, 84% had witnessed homophobia in a sporting match and 80% didn’t feel safe being openly gay as a competitor or spectator.
But it’s good for American sports viewers, men and young people to see two men showing each other affection. In fact, such male couples publicly showing physical affection used to be much more common during the 19th century.
Then homosexuality got labelled as a “sinful” mental disorder and sexual identity later in the 20th century, and so men stopped being physically and emotionally affectionate, lest they got labelled as gay.
Kiss-cams showing baseball stadium attendees kissing have increasingly let same-sex couples share a smooch on camera, often to the audience’s supportive applause.