Sports and Religion ‘Last Closets in America’ In Gay Rights Movement, NFL Players Say

By Penny Starr | May 6, 2013 | 5:28 PM EDT

Ravens Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (AP Photo)

( – NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo told Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” that professional sports and religious organizations are “the last closets” that need to be opened for LGBT people to gain equality.

On Sunday’s show during a discussion with homosexual pro-athletes and others about the recent announcement by NFL player Jason Collins that he is gay, Schieffer asked: “Do you think this is really the last frontier for gay acceptance and equality?”

“No, I still think we have a ways to go,” said Ayanbadejo, a free agent who describes himself as an “ally” of the LGBT movement. “The religious community, we respect religion, and we want people to have their religion and also not change religions, but we want people to be accepting of everybody.

“So I think the religious community and the sports community, between the two, I think those are two of the last closets in America, two of the last places where people are accepted,” Ayanbadejo said. “So once we get people to realize that you're born gay and that gay people are disenfranchised and they don't have all the same rights and benefits as everyone else and yet they're no different than everybody else, we can get past this unfortunate incident that's going on in our country every day.”

Schieffer then asked if Esera Tuaolo, a former NFL player who wrote a book in 2006 about playing in the league while secretly being a homosexual, agreed.

Tuaolo said that the gay movement has “taken some baby steps forward” but more needed to be done on the sports and religious fronts.

“So we have a lot to work on, like Brendon said, you know, with religion and sports and the NFL and the four major sports. I think those are the two last closets that we need to tackle,” Tualo said.