When injuries finally halted Davis’ hopes for a successful, long-term career, he was more relieved than disappointed. “When I knew football was over, my life would begin,” Davis said. “I had this football life, but I didn’t have another life away from that. Most of the guys had a family and a wife, but I had football and nothing else.”
Interestingly enough, that life has become one devoted to the needs of LGBT youth and the Obama2012 campaign. As a full-time mentor at Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York, Davis provides the kind of example he never had: a strong, masculine and openly gay mentor. And as Davis explains, President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage has become an inspiration.
“It is one of the most important things I’ve ever been involved in,” Davis says of Obama’s re-election bid. “The ability to influence people for some of the things I believe in, and making sure a person gets in office who I think is going to take the country in the best direction, is extremely important.”
I spoke with LZ Granderson to revisit the conversation he started in 2007 about being openly gay in the NBA and NFL. Although so much progress remains to be made, LZ acknowledged the importance of President Obama’s leadership on the issue.
“We have to begin to look through a wider lens. We are no longer in the days of Tim Hardaway’s infamous pronouncement, “I hate gay people.” In fact, we are a long way from that scenario. And it’s important to recognize the work the leagues are doing and give them credit.”
Granderson expounded, “Both the NFL and NBA have recently had two very public collective bargain agreement disputes and within both of the new contracts, same-sex, domestic partner benefits were included. It is hard to say who pushed for what, but what is clear is that the players union accepted it. If that’s not progress, then what is?”
Speaking about the silence of athletes on Obama’s support of gay marriage, the ESPN writer pushed back. “It’s not often that athletes say anything political or socially conscious, so their silence is consistent with the silence that has always existed. But what you continue to see is overwhelming support for the president. NBA players scheduled “The Obama Classic Fundraiser” to raise money for his 2012 campaign, with the likes of Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing involved. Separate fundraisers at Vince Carter’s house and Alan Houston’s home also brought major donors on-board. This, of course, is all after the president repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Granderson concluded.
“In Obama, they have a physical role model that they resonate with. That has never changed. And a big part of his platform from the very beginning has been LGBT rights….this is the evolution.”