Monday, May 16, 2011

Ex-Villanova forward Will Sheridan tells he’s gay

Maybe someday locker room culture will be open-minded enough that the story of how a former college basketball player revealed he was gay to his teammates won't be national news.

The support Will Sheridan's teammates gave him suggests that day is getting closer.

Sheridan, Villanova's starting power forward from 2004 to 2007, told's Dana O'Neil that he first revealed to roommate Mike Nardi that he was gay and later to other teammates as he grew more comfortable around them. None of them ostracized him or even behaved differently toward him afterward, nor did any of them feel the need to even inform coach Jay Wright.

"Your personal life is your personal life," Nardi said. "It didn't matter to us because it's family and you don't go putting your family's secrets out in the streets. I mean, why would I tell anyone? It's no one's business except Will's."

"After I found out, I was like, 'Did you know?' And all the guys, they were like, 'Yeah, Coach, we knew,'" Wright said. "They just didn't care and I guess I was just oblivious."

The courage of Sheridan and the nonchalance of his teammates is just the latest sign that even testosterone-driven jock culture is becoming more accepting of gays and less tolerant of homophobia. In the past few days alone, New York Rangers star Sean Avery took a stance in support of gay marriage and Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts told the New York Times he's gay.

What's missing, of course, is a well-known professional athlete still active in one of the four major sports feeling comfortable enough to publicly acknowledge that he's gay. Until that happens frequently enough that it's no longer considered a taboo, athletes like Sheridan will continue to be viewed as trailblazers.

The fact that Sheridan doesn't appear to have been the target of much homophobia from anyone at Villanova hopefully will help others in his position to find the courage to be honest with their teams.

The more gay athletes who follow in Sheridan's footsteps, the sooner the day will come when stories like this are no longer newsworthy.

Autumn Reeser Camilla Belle Blu Cantrell Jaime King Lokelani McMichael

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