Chris Culliver

Just days before the San Francisco 49ers’ first Super Bowl appearance in 18 years, cornerback Chris Culliver said he wouldn’t welcome a gay teammate in the locker room. The team quickly responded with an official statement supporting the LGBT community. Do Culliver’s comments reflect a pervasive anti-gay sentiment in sports, or is he an individual outlier?

Patrick Burke, co-founder of You Can Play, an LGBT sports advocacy nonprofit that works with pro-sports teams and fans to welcome gay players and gay fans
Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of, an online gay sports coummunity composed of sports fans, teams and leagues
David Kopay, former San Francisco 49ers running back and the first NFL player to come out in 1975

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    What ever happened to the First Amendment? You may not agree with Mr. Culliver’s original comment, but he shouldn’t be punished for speaking his mind.

    Guess my question is this. If someone is asked a question like he was asked (he did not bring the subject up) should they lie? Or simply say they don’t discuss the topic? If they say they don’t discuss the topic then some folks will criticize them for that.

    • Chris OConnell

      The 1st Amendment is alive and well. Because we have the 1st Amendment, Chris Culliver is in no legal jeopardy whatsoever. He has the freedom to say what he thinks. The state is in no way trying to interfere with his right to speak. But that doesn’t mean others don’t have the SAME 1st Amendment right to criticize his comments. What about our 1st Amendment right to criticize him? What about that right?

      Though I don’t think this is the case here, people can be subject to employer discipline for their speech. The 1st Amendment doesn’t protect you from your employer, it protects you from the state punishing you for your speech.

  • Cromwhale

    American football is an inherently homoerotic sport, as any cultural anthropologist will tell you, or you can just read the textbook. Besides wearing tights and constantly trying to touch each other, these men are obsessed with a t√ęsticle-shaped ball, after all.

    I bet if you look closely at any sport that is not co-ed, you will find homoerotic themes and symbols.

    And this homoeroticism in sports naturally causes anxiety for those who are repressing related urges.

  • Allison Ward

    My son is a high school athlete and hes gay. he is very talented and he has to deal with homophobia on the team everyday his teammates think nothing of making homophobic comments to fellow teammates and in general and no one challenges it this football player is nieve to believe that their are not fellow athletes on his team who are not gay they just live in the shadows society needs to honor goodness and talent not be paranoid

  • Guest

    Quantifying vocabulary is a novel metric for measuring hate. Censoring one’s language is a step towards civility, but it doesn’t address the underlying intolerance.

  • jet

    I think it’s important to talk about the media and their attitudes as well. Culliver’s comments did not happen in a vacuum . He was egged on by the interviewer who at one point asked him if he was gay. This immediately put him in a defensive stance, and really opened him up to letting out his prejudices. Although his comments were stupid, they also reflected the mind of a young man who has been living in a testosterone bubble for most of his adult life. All we see and hear are Culliver’s comments, but there was a lot of prejudice built in to the questions being asked of him, and I think he was playing to the interviewer to some degree.
    Still… GO NINERS!

  • While the first amendment gives him a right to say what he chooses – we also have a right to choose our feelings about him for what he says. As a long time Steelers fan, now living in the Bay Area, I planned to cheer for the 49ers – now I will actually cheer for the rival Ravens!

  • Justin

    As recent college graduate who spent 8 semesters playing rugby, I was elated when a gay teammate came out. The fact that he came out to the team reaffirms the essence of the meaning of being a teammate. In my mind it was the ultimate example of trust and camaraderie that is essential to being part of a team. Homophobia in male sports tarnishes the meaning of team.

  • chrisnfolsom

    This subject shows how ignorance is the driving force – how many conservative parents change their mind when they have a child who is gay, or friends, or children of friends?
    We have the hardest time using the word “ignorant”, but is does not mean you are stupid, or don’t care, and quite the opposite as until you embrace your ignorance you are not ready to learn…. It reminds me of the old statement that the more you know – the more you realize you don’t know. Thus beyond just the LGBT issue we need to teach people that ignorance is not a bad word or state to be in, and in many ways what we are all here to embrace and learn from.

  • wjd

    when is michael krasny going to “retire???” he’s out of touch, hackneyed, pompous, dismissive, and he stopped evolving sometime circa 1986. i would relish a substantive radio show focused on the bay area–that reflects what and who the bay area is–especially since kqed has so little good local programming; so i try to listen to “forum” but always end up wanting a show with a host who actually reads the books, sees the art, and understands the culture and concerns of our communities–or at the very least spends the time to do the research–and instead am forced to hear him pontificate, and run on about himself and his accomplishments, views, biases, half-heard facts, and knee-jerk synopses rather than asking smart questions and listening to his guests–and learning something that he may not know and helping us to understand it too.

  • James Ivey

    I really like the South Park episode in which the kids called loud, obnoxious, Harley riders the “F” word. When questioned about it in court while referring to homosexual members of the community, the kids said, “They’re not (F-words); they’re cool.” When homosexuality was explained to the kids, they responded, “So what?”

    In effect, the word didn’t refer to homosexuals in the minds fo the kids. Even better than avoiding the use of slurs is to divorce the slur from the offensive definition altogether. While I don’t do this myself, using the slur without referring to homosexuals could be a step in that direction.

    Just something to think about.

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