With apologies to my lesbian sisters, much of the battle for gay rights in this country is a Freudian wrestling match over masculine identity. We need someone to step up and subvert the stereotype, someone who dunks on his opponent or plants them in the turf off the blindside, then goes home to snuggle with his husband. I spent one year, what one might call a cup of coffee, playing professional basketball in Ireland. When I began teaching, I used this factoid to my advantage with some of the boys in my classes. It was the leverage I needed to get them to understand that a boy could be both smart and athletic. The lesson was driven home to me one day after I started as Dean of Students at a new middle school. Two of the boys, who were excited because I’d promised to start a basketball team, came running up to me in the hallway before first period. They didn’t say anything at first because they didn’t know quite how to broach the subject. Finally, one of them blurted out, “Mr. Day, you write poetry!?” It was half exclamation, because the internet had told them it was true, and half question, because they still couldn’t understand how someone can both play basketball and write poetry. Simply by combining the multiple aspects of my self, I was, if only in a very small way, helping to deconstruct the stereotypes their pre-pubescent minds had started to form about what it means to be a man. I’m only sorry they weren’t then also able to Google the fact that I’m bi-sexual. But, you see, I wasn’t fully out then. I lacked that courage, which is precisely the courage we need from some athlete or athletes to help begin breaking down the stereotype that pits homosexuality against masculinity. If that happens maybe, just maybe, 7 years or 10 years or 17 years from now we’ll be witness to legislation that grants marriage rights, which bestow full and equal recognition on gays and lesbians, not just in the blue states that cling to our country’s coasts, but all across this great nation.