Standing Up at an Early Age

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-09-15 16:29Z by Steven

Standing Up at an Early Age

The New York Times

Adam Himmelsbach

Views on Gay Rights of Ravens’ Ayanbadejo Are Rooted in Upbringing

In recent weeks, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been praised in many quarters for supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage. His stance is not new, but it reached a wider audience after a Maryland legislator urged the Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to silence him.

For Ayanbadejo, 36, it was a comforting shift from 2009, when he became one of the first athletes from a major American professional sports team to speak out in support of same-sex marriage. That year, he found gay slurs directed at him on Internet message boards. In the Ravens’ locker room, players made crude remarks and asked him when he would reveal his homosexuality, he said.

“If I was walking by, and they wanted to be immature and make comments, I’d keep walking,” said Ayanbadejo, who has a 1-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter with his longtime girlfriend. “If they wanted to be real men and have conversations, I would have, but no one did.”

If those players had heard Ayanbadejo’s story, they would have learned how his views were shaped. His father is Nigerian, and his mother is Irish-American, and he was given the first name Oladele, which translates to “wealth follows me home.” But for much of his childhood, that did not ring true…

…Ayanbadejo began going by his middle name, Brendon, to fit in. He starred for Santa Cruz High School’s football team, but he was also active in theater, rode a skateboard and befriended many openly gay students. He had been accepted as a biracial boy from a Chicago housing project, so he accepted everyone else’s differences, too, he said…

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