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Strange Fruit: It's the Super Strange Fruit Bowl, Featuring Wade Davis

Huddle up, sports fans! It's time for the Super Bowl (or so we hear), and it's been a huge week for LGBTQ sports news!Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo has gotten lots of positive attention for being an advocate of LGBTQ rights, and for using the spotlight of the Super Bowl to get the word out. And Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried released an adorable video in praise of his two moms. Sadly, not all the news was good. Kwame Harris was essentially outed this week when he had to appear in court on charges he assaulted his ex-boyfriend (Harris had never publicly said he's gay, but for what it's worth, his former teammates say it wouldn't matter to them).

In what was probably the biggest LGBTQ-related story of this Super Bowl season, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver had a not-quite-progressive reaction when asked whether he'd be comfortable playing football with gay people. In the quote heard 'round the sports world, he said: 


I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man. Thisdid not go over well.Culliver apologized, the 49ers apologized, and the NFL so far has made no move to suspend Culliver from the big game. After we covered all that in our Juicy Fruit segment, we got to the main event: A conversation with the marvelous Wade Davis. Davis is a former NFL player who came out as gay after his retirement from the game. He's now an activist who a co-authors the Tongues Untied column with our friend Darnell Moore. Davis also works with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a New York City-based non-profit organization devoted to serving the needs of LGBTQ youth.Many looked to Davis for some insight into Culliver's remarks this week, and Davis didn't disappoint. "[W]hile we should be concerned with outright acts of discrimination, we should also address the silence of countless other players, coaches, and executives who don’t or won’t speak out against homophobia and discrimination as loudly as those who are spewing hate speech," he wrote in an op-ed for The Advocate. "Silence can be just as harmful as raucous noise."We spoke to Wade Davis before the Chris Culliver story broke (which is a good thing, since his calendar quickly filled up with national media seeking comment!). He told us about his time in the NFL, homophobia in locker room banter and his post-retirement activism. Thanks for listening to our Super Strange Fruit Bowl, Fruitcakes! Enjoy the big game—we understand they'll be playing it sometime near this Sunday's Beyonce performance. Break, set, hut!

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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