LGBT athletes have increasingly come out and into the spotlight over the past couple of years, but what about the high profile journalists who cover them? Obviously there are more than a few gay people in the sports reporter ranks, and South Florida-based ESPN personality Israel Gutierrez came out today in an emotionally essay posted on his personal blog.
The former Miami Herald reporter says he's been out to friends and family for six years now, but decided to come out publicly now because, well, he's getting married in less than two weeks.
Of course, the story isn't just as simple for a gay man working in the sports business, and Gutierrez details his struggles with accepting his sexuality and finally coming to terms with it in his early 30s:
Starting in my early teens until somewhere in my late 20s, I’d blow out my birthday candles with the same wish: “Please don’t let me be gay.”
Every time I prayed, I made sure to ask God to help me through this. To help reveal my true self.
As I got older and, of course, had to continue the social dance of dating women, not just to maintain some sort of façade (besides the dating women part, I tried to remain as genuine as possible because I’ve always had amazing friends and a great family and always wanted to be as true to them as I could), but also to continue this hopeless attempt to “fight off the gay.”
I remember always trying to chase the best looking women, because I’d likely get turned down. But hey, I tried, right?
Guiterrez details a continued dance of coming closer to accepting himself only to leap back. That was until he met his current partner David Kitchen and was inspired by the journey of openly gay rugby player Gareth Thomas. Now he's getting married to Kitchen.
The South Florida native got his start at the Palm Beach Post and then became a sports columnist for the Miami Herald for a number of years. That lead to frequent appearances on ESPN, especially as a recurring guest on Pardon The Interruption. Eventually the Worldwide Leader snapped him up full time and he's now a regular NBA columnist for their website and frequent analyst on a number of the network's programs, including The Sports Reporters.
Gutierrez joins a small but growing number of openly gay voices at ESPN. He joins Nate Silver, editor of ESPN property Five Thirty Eight, columnist LZ Granderson and writer Kate Fagan as some of the openly gay faces of the sports network.
His announcement was created warmly by a who's who of sports reporters and stars.
@IzGutierrez happy is one of the best things to be. stay happy, Iz.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) September 4, 2015
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@IzGutierrez congrats on feeling comfortable enough to share your personal life w/ the public...Hope you & your husband have a great wedding— Rocky Maivia (@AJFrancis410) September 4, 2015
And that's just a small handful of the response.