There are many athletes in the world of sports who have been rumored to be in the closet, but have not come out. They may not because it might become perceived as a distraction to the team they are on. As for individual athletes, coming out is still difficult, because you just know there's going to be some form of unwarranted negativity toward them. In today's society it's a lot more accepted for people to come out than it was back say in the 80s or 70s. The world has made a lot of progress but there's still a lot of work to be done.
Older athletes may still be in the closet to this day because the longer they keep their sexual orientation hidden, the harder it can be to finally reveal it to the world.
Ironically, WNBA star Candice Wiggins went so far as to say she gets bullied because she is heterosexual and claims most of the league is LGBT.
When looking at this list of male and female athletes rumored to be in the closet, keep in mind these are only rumors, so take anything that's been reported on them with a grain of salt. Hopefully, we're able to live in a world one day where athletes' (and every day people's) orientation is a complete non-issue.
15 MALE: TROY AIKMAN
Troy Aikman had his success as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He's a Hall Of Fame quarterback and now is a color commentator on Fox. Troy's now co-worker at Fox Sports, Skip Bayless started a rumor in his book that Troy was gay. Aikman has still to this day denied the rumors and maintains that he is straight.
A few years ago, Aikman said in an interview why he was upset about the rumors telling outsports.com in 2015. "I'm upset about it because it was made up and there was nothing accurate about anything that was insinuated."
Aikman also expressed a lot of frustration when it was first announced in 2016 that Fox would be hiring Bayless. He went so far as to say Bayless has zero credibility as a journalist.
14 MALE: AARON RODGERS
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Unfortunately for Aaron he has to bat away rumors about his orientation for years. The rumor stemmed from Aaron's roommate Kevin Lanflisi said that him and Aaron were in a relationship. Aaron Rodgers was previously in a relationship with Olivia Munn but now he's in a relationship with racing star Danica Patrick. That would normally put rumors of one's orientation to rest, but A-Rod's old friend was insistent.
Lanffisi says he dumped Aaron after they were living together saying "Silence always comes with an expiration date.”
After their friendship had a falling out, Kevin posted numerous pictures of him and Aaron together. Rodgers won't comment on it and talks down to his old friend Kevin. Aaron said in an ESPN interview referred to Kevin as a “seat filler."
13 FEMALE: SHERYL SWOOPES
This one's a little more complicated. Swoopes came out as a lesbian in 2005 but in 2011 she was engaged to marry a man. When she first came out she told ESPN Magazine "Do I think I was born this way? No, And that's probably confusing to some, because I know a lot of people believe that you are."
In 2011 she was engaged to Chris Unclesho who she knew for sometime. She did claim however she isn't bi either saying “I don’t think I was born gay. Again, it was a choice. As I got older, once I got divorced, it wasn’t like I was looking for another relationship, man or woman. I just got feelings for another woman. I didn’t understand it at the time, because I had never had those feelings before.”
She also said at the time “I feel like everything that happened personally and professionally I went through for a reason, and I learned from those things."
Swoopes' orientation is still unclear to this day so we'll have to differ to the experts on this one.
12 MALE: TIM DUNCAN
Tim Duncan is one of the greatest basketball players of his generation and is well regarded as the most outstanding human being among his peers.
Unfortunately, Duncan went through a messy divorce and was accused of being gay by his ex- wife. According to court documents filed by his ex's party, Duncan had a relationship with another man while he was at Wake Forest.
Duncan wouldn't comment publicly about the rumors but a former teammate Danny Green told a radio station in New York "Timmy is Tim. I’m not going to look at him any differently. He’s my teammate regardless of his sexual preferences.”
It was also alleged in the court documents that Duncan had an affair with another man while he was married.
11 Male: Sean Avery
It seems that whenever certain athletes take a stand for LGBT issues, some ignorant people take it as the athlete is hiding something, which is an incredibly ignorant stance to take. Such was the case with Sean Avery, who despite being a big jerk on the ice, and in some cases off it, should be commended for standing up for LGBT rights. Also, because of his interest in fashion, many fans and players used a gay slur towards him during his career.
In an interview with McLeans, Avery opened up about being one of the first athletes to publicly support same-sex marriage: "I had done an internship at Vogue a few years prior, so at that point, everyone had assumed that I was gay anyways. I didn’t give a f– whether they thought I was “more gay” or not. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, and I said, “Yeah, of course.”
There was also a false rumor back in 2013 of Avery having gotten engaged to Andy Cohen. Avery's marriage to Hilary Rhoda should put questions of his sexuality to rest.
10 FEMALE: ELLEN HOOG
Ellen Hoog is a field hockey player and is pretty good. She's had a somewhat successful career so far. Her debut on a national team was in 2004. Hoog was also named World Hockey Player Of The Year in 2014. Hoog has played in 127 matches scoring 27 goals. She also is popular with the male athletes because she does do some photo shoots when she's completely showing it all. However there are rumors that she is a lesbian athlete and she's popular with the women too.
She hasn't been public with her personal life, which is understandable. She has been spotted with other females. It's not for certain what Hoog's orientation is, but we do know that she is very popular with the women as well as the men. But does she like women more? Only she can answer that question.
9 MALE: MANTI TE'O
We all remember the Manti Te'o story in 2012 when he made up a fake girlfriend on Twitter. It came out he didn't know about the fake account and he was catfished. Others claim he did know about it and it was all to cover up his orientation. He told Katie Couric that he was not gay and far from it in a 2012 interview. Because of this incident, many NFL teams passed on him in the NFL Draft.
Te'o was known for his drama off the field before he even had a chance to be in the NFL. Te'o said in an interview Vanity Fair “The relationship, to me, was real, The illness, the accident, her dying these were all real to me."
Te'o hasn't become a big star in the NFL, but he has managed to hang around, playing this past season for the New Orleans Saints.
8 MALE: CARL LEWIS
Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals during his career and 10 world championship medals for track and field. The way Lewis dressed however, had people questioning his sexuality. In 2014 for Shoeolics Magazine, Lewis wore high heels during a photoshoot.
A former girlfriend even came out and said she thought Lewis was a homosexual. Lewis was married but that didn't stop rumors from spreading. Lewis was also allegedly seen at a New York gay bar a few years ago as well. To this day he has denied the rumors, leaving many people to speculate. Whether it was a coincidence or not, Coca-Cola dropped Lewis as a spokesman after the L.A. Olympics. Nike also stopped using him in advertising, with one Nike executive being quoted as saying: 'If you're a male athlete, I think the American public wants you to look macho.'
7 FEMALE: VICTORIA GALINDO
Victoria Galindo is a player on the women's National Softball team for the United States. She also plays for the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch league. One of her teammates commented in an interview with The Advocate back in 2008 that Galindo inspired her to be more open about her sexuality. “which really inspired me to be less guarded and to share with my teammates things that I wouldn’t hesitate to share if I was straight.” teammate Lauren Pappin.
She also said in the interview she has had relationships with both men and women. Galindo was probably nervous at first because it could be a distraction to the team. In today's society however it is very common to be open about your sexuality. As the years go by I'm sure more athletes will come out.
6 MALE: OVIE MUGHELLI
Ovie Mughelli was a solid fullback in the NFL. Rumors started in 2010 though by an alleged ex- lover who posted pictures of their relationship for the public. Mughelli had just singed a deal with the Atlanta Falcons worth $20 million then this stuff came out. The alleged lover claimed the relationship began in 2001 when Mughelli was in college
The supposed ex-lover was very upset Mughelli cut him out of his life and probably thought he deserved some of that $20 million Mughelli was getting to play football. Mughelli's lawyer at the time told Deadspin that the pictures were "false and defamatory". Since retiring, Mughelli has done some sportscasting work for various outlets and even recently shot a commercial, giving advice on how to throw a Super Bowl party.
5 MALE: JOSH SELBY
Selby was a good player in the NBA. He now plays overseas. Rumors started about his sexuality. An email was leaked which contained photos and a text message. The emails ranged from February 4, 2011 to about August 21, 2011 which is when the fake email was created by someone else. He would send a tweet saying "Learned my lesson don't send any pics to any females when you crossed them. They get you back double worst."
Selby is claiming his ex put him up to it. Selby was also depressed when he played for the Grizzlies saying back in 2014 “I went through a time where I was depressed with basketball. I got depressed because things weren’t going my way. I had thoughts of retiring."
4 Female: Paige
As we know, Paige recently came out of what many felt was an unhealthy relationship with fellow pro wrestler and former co-worker Alberto Del Rio. As for Paige, she recently suffered a neck injury in a match involving Sasha Banks. Having come off neck surgery recently, her wrestling career may be over. While she's never had trouble making headlines outside the ring, one thing that caught fans' attention was her and Rosa Mendes kissing on Total Divas. Paige rejected Rosa's advances, but she has admitted in the past to having experimented with women before. With her recent hetero relationships ending badly, many are wondering if Paige is in fact under the LGBT umbrella. If that were the case, Paige wouldn't have much to worry about as pro wrestling has actually been more accepting than one would think in regards to sexual orientations.
3 MALE: KERRY RHODES
For Kerry Rhodes he was always hit with rumors that he was gay. Rhode's former assistant said they were in a relationship. To maybe protect his image he has denied the rumors that he is gay. However rumors suggest otherwise as he was pictured with his arm around another man once.
In a 2013 interview with TMZ Rhodes said "I am not gay. The shots were taken during a past vacation in a casual environment with my entire business team. I know a lot of people are recently talking about athletes struggling to come out to their fans right now, and I support them, as well as wish those individuals comfort."
Nicky Whelan divorced Rhodes and many speculated it was because she had learned the truth about his orientation.
2 Male: Anonymous NFL Players
In recent years, more NFL players have expressed their support in any fellow players who are in the closet to come out. About five years ago, NFL players Scott Fujita and Brendon Ayanbadejo spoke out a few years ago, trying to encourage players to come out, if they were in fact gay.
“I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now,” said Fujita. ”Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I’ve seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be."
The law of averages would tell you there are bound to be some NFL players hiding in the closet, but with the way Michael Sam's career went, it must be scaring off other players from coming forward.
1 Female: Ronda Rousey
It just shows you how ignorant some people could be. Because Ronda Rousey was a big time star in MMA and was single for a while, speculation began to form that Rousey was LGBT. Rousey addressed that speculation in 2015 and laughed it off:
"It's funny when people think that because I'm a female athlete that I must be a lesbian," she joked. "I'm like, 'No, I love men so much that I beat the f--- out of girls for a living just to take them all out!'"
Rousey got married to MMA fighter Travis Browne this past year and is now pursuing a career in professional wrestling. Hopefully the days of her having to address her orientation are long gone. Let's focus on how successful she can be in her new career!
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