Former Villanova forward Will Sheridan was a guest of ESPN's Outside Lines and revealed that he is gay. His announcement comes on the heels of a feature story in the New York Times about Suns' President Rick Welts coming out of the closet.
Sheridan is an interesting case however, because this is a player and so far we haven't really had an openly gay player in a major mens' team sport. In Sheridan's case, he was not "out of the closet" to everyone during his time at Villanova, but he was honest with his teammates. In fact, one of the first people who told was his roommate and teammate Mike Nardi. Nardi's response was to make a joke and move on.
"I just said, 'Don't go putting a hit on me or sniffing my underwear or nothing,'" Nardi said. "I mean I was surprised because it was new to me. I had never really experienced anything like that, but it's not like it mattered. I don't know. I mean, we were friends. Who cares?"
Anyone that followed Villanova and the Big 5 has probably heard rumors about Sheridan before. He would often get mocked by St. Joe's fans(kind of embarrassing huh Hawks fans?), for instance, about the rumors that he was gay. Luckily, he had the demeanor to deal with it.
"I remember at some games, especially Saint Joe's games, they were unreal," said Sheridan, recalling taunts about specific homosexual acts. "At first, I was like, 'My grandma is sitting right there,'" Sheridan said. "And as a human being you feel it when people say nasty things. But then I thought, 'That's just stupid. If you were gay, you'd like to do [those things], too."
The questions have always been whether an openly gay athlete would be accepted by a macho mens sports locker room. There simply haven't been many examples to give a good opinion on that. However, Sheridan may be proof that these teams may be more accepting than people might think. Despite the fact that most everyone on the Villanova team knew he was gay, none of them ever revealed it to anyone else.
"Your personal life is your personal life," Nardi said. "It didn't matter to us because it's family, and you don't go putting your family's secrets out in the streets. I mean, why would I tell anyone? It's no one's business except Will's."
Even Jay Wright didn't know.
"After I found out, I was like, 'Did you know?' And all the guys, they were like, 'Yeah, Coach, we knew,'" Wright said. "They just didn't care, and I guess I was just oblivious."
Sheridan said that he hopes his revelation helps other people, whether they are gay or not, be more comfortable with who they are.
"I'm trying to have a voice, and I want that voice to reach as many people as it can," he said. "I mean, look at me. I'm black. I'm gay. I'm like a quadruple minority, and I feel like a little piece of me resides in everybody. Maybe there's a kid out there who doesn't think he's OK, and he can look at me and say, 'OK, he played college basketball. He went overseas. He has a music career and now he's living his life. Now he's who he wants to be and he's happy and confident and comfortable.' It's my responsibility to talk about that."
It's a really good piece over on ESPN. com. I encourage you to check it out.