Last week, reports surfaced that four currently closeted gay NFL players are considering coming out at some point soon, the idea being they'd announce together so as to avoid suffering backlash alone. Even rumors of this kind of movement are a good sign, but the longer these players wait, the more the story becomes a gossip hunt for the SECRET GAYS in the NFL and less about a transformative moment for the LGBT community. The longer they wait, the longer they give voice to people who wonder if they should even be doing this at all. The longer they wait, the more they signal to young gay people who love sports that coming out may not be the best idea. After all, if rich, successful athletes struggle to do it, how on Earth will you be able to?
This brings us to a simple an inescapable fact. A generation of young people need a gay Jackie Robinson. Someone that they can point to on SportsCenter and say, "Yeah, I'm gay, but so is he. And look what he can do." Someone who by their simple existence and athletic success can do more damage to playground homophobia, and the idea that masculinity and heterosexuality are one and the same, than a thousand PSAs. We need someone who, like Robinson, was good at what he did, but also willing to stand up to a backlash head-on. I you're a successful, closeted gay athlete, your time has come. But lest you think this is a suicide mission, there are a lot of very good reasons for you to do it.