Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NBA's Rick Welts

Lots of high profile gay sports professionals fear being outed, but here’s what happens when you’re so good at your job that no one gives a flying leap about who you take to bed. Rick Welts, the openly gay former president of the Phoenix Suns, was hired by Oakland's Golden State Warriors as team president and COO. For decades Welts feared what coming out might do to his career. Like so many closeted gay people in sports, he kept his private and public lives separate for fear that he wouldn't be able to get another job in sports if people knew he was gay.

Welts' coming out last May while president of the Suns team was one thing. They couldn't fire, demote or shun him, because that would have been a public relations disaster.  Welts stepped down as Phoenix Suns CEO in September, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his male partner, who lives in Sacramento. But when he left, no team was obligated to hire him.

Now an NBA team has handed an openly gay man the reins to their franchise. While people focus on the travails of athletes, the real power brokers in sports are the guys Welts works with every day, and they've decided to welcome a gay man into their fold. This is huge. Gay players, coaches and executives now know that they can have a welcoming, accepting home in their field. No more pretend-dates with women, no more hiding a partner away from the spotlight. And now all those people who live in a fearful professional closet have a bright, shining example of what can happen when you're simply good at your job.

Now, if we can just have an NBA season.

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