A footballer from one of the teams playing in the upcoming American Super Bowl has sparked outrage by stating that gays are not welcome on his team.
San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver made the remarks during a Super Bowl media day interview on Tuesday, telling a radio host: “I don’t do the gay guys man. I don’t do that.
“No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do… Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah… can’t be… in the locker room man.”
Culliver’s homophobic remarks stand in stark contrast to a growing list of National Football League (NFL) players who support LGBT equality – including Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight ally who will take the field against Culliver this Sunday.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz said that Culliver’s comments “represent the height of ignorance and the type of homophobic banter that professional athletes rarely use anymore.
“Chris Culliver’s irrational rant against LGBT people is reprehensible, and the fact that he is about to face off in the Super Bowl against Brendon Ayanbadejo – a steadfast ally for our community – only exacerbates how unacceptable his comments are. Culliver should recognise how far most of his fellow athletes have come on this issue and apologise immediately,” added Sainz.
Ironically, the 49ers were the first NFL team to film an ‘It Gets Better’ video aimed at supporting LGBT youth. The team’s management quickly issued a statement condemning Culliver’s remarks.
“The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organisation at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community,” said the team.
On Wednesday, Culliver himself apologised for his homophobic comments in a statement.
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realise that they are hurtful and ugly.
“Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologise to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience,” said the player.
It is not known if the team took any disciplinary action against Culliver for the comments.
In addition to Ayanbadejo, who has campaigned in favour of same-sex marriage, Chris Kluwe, with the Minnesota Vikings, is another NFL player who has spoken out frequently for LGBT Americans.