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Amaechi, John (b. 1970)  
 
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More typical, however, was the comment of Amaechi's former teammate Troy Hudson, who said, "The majority of people in pro sports--I mean, in the world--don't feel comfortable with that kind of person around."

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James criticized Amaechi for not coming out during his playing days. "With teammates you have to be trustworthy. If you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, you're not trustworthy," he stated.

Sponsor Message.

Amaechi described James's comment as "naïve" since it did not show an understanding of the extent of in the NBA.

Tim Hardaway, formerly of the Miami Heat, gave voice to such bigotry by saying, "I hate gay people, so let it be known. I don't like gay people, and I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It should not be allowed in the world or in the United States."

After being rebuked by NBA commissioner David Stern, Hardaway subsequently issued a less than convincing apology: "I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that. That was my mistake."

Amaechi deplored the hateful speech and its effects, saying, "Hardaway's words were like bullets ricocheting around society; they wounded people. I received e-mails from young kids, saying they were quitting their basketball teams because Hardaway had convinced them that being open about their sexuality would make their lives impossible. Words spoken in hate have a profound effect around the globe."

NBA commissioner Stern barred Hardaway from making public appearances on behalf of the league during festivities surrounding the All-Star Game, stating, "It is inappropriate for him to represent us given the disparity between his views and ours."

Hardaway also lost his endorsement deal with Bald Guyz, a maker of men's grooming products. Amaechi, on the other hand, became one of the few openly gay athletes hired to endorse products. He represents HeadBlade, which also makes grooming products for bald men.

Amaechi has become a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project. His work involves visiting colleges "to create a dialogue on campuses . . . [and] also, in a more general sense, to try and create awareness of the coming-out process, how it is very individual for different people."

Amaechi is a most appropriate person for the task. He called the period of his own coming out "a time when I'm very resolved, have a great understanding of myself, and have come to some good peace."

"And that," he stated, "has put me in a position where I can be resilient enough, eloquent enough, and outspoken enough to do a good job not only for GLBT people but to try and open some minds in general."

In 2007, Amaechi served as the Grand Marshal of the Utah Pride Festival and of the Los Angeles Christopher Street Day Parade.

On June 13, 2011, it was announced that Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II had awarded Amaechi the designation Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to sport and to volunteerism.

Since his retirement from basketball, Amaechi had earned a Ph.D. in psychology and had served as a sporting ambassador for Amnesty International and as a director of the Diversity Board of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

In response to the news, Commissioner Stern said: "John Amaechi is an inspiration to millions, and a great ambassador for his country and the sport of basketball. As a consummate professional during his playing days and through his continued community service, John truly represents the ideals of the NBA."

Linda Rapp

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   Related Entries
  
social sciences >> Overview:  Coming Out

"Coming out" is the revelation or acknowledgment that one is a member of a sexual minority, a process that is at once personal and social and often political.

arts >> Overview:  Sports: Gay Male

While sports, at least on the major competitive level, may be the final closet for gay men, there have nevertheless been a number of gay male elite athletes.

arts >> Bean, Billy

Former baseball player and current television personality, Billy Bean was closeted throughout his major league career but has since become a proud advocate for glbtq rights.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

arts >> Jones, Rosie

Golfer Rosie Jones enjoyed great success both as an amateur and a professional; since her public coming out in 2004 she has helped increase glbtq visibility in sports.

arts >> Kopay, David

The first American professional athlete to acknowledge his homosexuality publicly, former National Football League player David Kopay stands near the head of the short list of openly gay and lesbian elite athletes.

arts >> Nyad, Diana

Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.

arts >> Pallone, Dave

Major league umpire Dave Pallone was outed and forced out of professional baseball; since leaving the game he has become an advocate for glbtq rights.

arts >> Roberts, Ian

At the height of his athletic career, Australian rugby superstar Ian Roberts made the courageous decision to come out as a gay man.

arts >> Sheehan, Patty

Hall of Fame golfer Patty Sheehan, who came out as a lesbian at the height of her career, continues to excel on the LPGA Legends tour.

arts >> Swoopes, Sheryl

In 2005 basketball star and three-time Olympic champion Sheryl Swoopes publicly came out as a lesbian and acknowledged her committed relationship with another woman.

arts >> Thomas, Gareth

Acclaimed Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas is among the small number of professional athletes who have found the courage to come out as gay at the height of their careers.


    Bibliography
   

ABC Foundation. www.amaechibasketball.com/about_abc.html.

Amaechi, John, with Chris Bull. Man in the Middle. New York: ESPN Books, 2007.

Elliott, Stuart. "Gay Athletes Slowly Enter the Endorsement Arena." New York Times (March 12, 2007): C6.

"Hardaway Axed by NBA for Anti-gay Comments in Wake of Amaechi's Revelation That He's Gay." Jet 111.9 (March 5, 2007): 49-50.

Jackson, Jamie. "Why I've Come Out." The Observer (England) (March 4, 2007): Magazine, 40.

Povtak, Tim. "Revenge of the Nerd." Basketball Digest 28.3 (January 2001): 44.

Stockwell, Anne. "All of Me." The Advocate 981 (March 13, 2007): 42-48.

Syed, Matthew. "Man-to-man Defence: The Star of Basketball Who Dared to Come Out." The Times (London) (March 28, 2007): Features, 6.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Amaechi, John  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated June 15, 2011  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/amaechi_j.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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