“he’s a pioneer” – Victoria News


In an Instagram post, Bayne Pettinger of Oak Bay saw a performance lighthouse.

When the NHL player’s agent publicly revealed his homosexuality last November, he wondered when the first active player in one of North America’s four major sports leagues would be released.

That day came on June 21 when defensive end Carl Nassib of the NFL Las Vegas Raiders took to Instagram to say who he is and announced that he was donating $ 100,000 to the Trevor Project – a organization providing crisis and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ + youth.

“I just want to take a moment to say I’m gay. I’ve been planning on doing this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to take it off my chest, ”Nassib said.

“He’s a pioneer,” Pettinger told Black Press Media. “For him to step in and do it early in his career is extremely admirable.”

Nassib’s post evoked no drama, no emotion for Pettinger, who said the NFLer seemed absent in fear while speaking his truth. The agent hopes that Nassib’s calm and straightforward demeanor was a sign that the athlete believed the sports world would always accept him.

“He just took it off his chest and moved on,” Pettinger said. “I think it really took him away from the spotlight and more on the (Trevor Project).

“Who your partner is is such a small part of a person and he kind of passed it on.”

Nassib’s exit as an active player was huge for professional sports, Pettinger said, but it’s also a chance for young LGBTQ + athletes to see themselves reflected like never before.

“It affects young people, for those who thought that because of their sexuality, they could not play professional sports.”

Nassib’s action signals a shift beyond stereotypes applied to professional athletes – especially in more “macho” sports – and those in the LGBTQ + community, Pettinger said, noting he never matched either. to society’s view of the stereotypical homosexual man.

Since individual sports have more overtly LGBTQ + competitors, he hopes this will be a turning point for team sports. From an early age, team sports instill in athletes a sense of not being individuals or a distraction, and that their issues are no greater than those of the team. This, Pettinger said, puts locked-in athletes in a tough spot.

The hockey officer said sports are becoming a more inclusive place, but challenges remain.

He recalled his own playing days, when other players on the ice or the rugby field would throw hurtful and derogatory words, such as “fa ****”. In those moments, he wondered how far the sports community still had to go.

As someone who has lived with the “burden of not being their authentic self,” said Pettinger, hurtful language can be a barrier for athletes to come out.

“People say ‘oh, I didn’t mean it that way’ and it’s like, well maybe use another word,” he said. “Sometimes people don’t realize it until they can humanize it, and that’s what I found.

If Nassib fans have changed their minds about him after his release, Pettinger said the first step is to ask why. More change is possible if people can be educated with empathy, he added.

Support from the sports world and beyond poured in for Nassib after the Instagram post. The news that his jersey was sold out in several sizes and topped the NFL sales list after the release was another sign of comfort for Pettinger.

“It’s fantastic. People are on board and sometimes all it takes is someone to step in and make a difference.”

Whether it’s the NHL, MLB, or NBA, Pettinger knows the next game changer is here.

“Maybe an active player that’s still in the closet looks at him and says ‘if he can do it, I can do it’ and then we move on.”

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