How This Former NFL Player Became A Feminist Activist
When you hear "former pro football player," LGBT and feminist activist isn't necessarily what comes to mind. But that's exactly who Wade Davis is -- an openly-gay, former NFL player, who is fighting homophobia and sexism, one conversation at a time. "Often, we as men don't hold other men accountable," Davis told The Huffington Post. "I think it's on men to do the work to talk to other men, to meet them where they're at on this journey and then hopefully make the language [of feminism] accessible." As the Executive Director of You Can Play (an organization that promotes equality for LGBT athletes) and a HeForShe ambassador, Davis is using his privilege as a male athlete to speak out against misogyny and the damaging impact of traditional masculinity.
I realized the root of homophobia was sexism. If I didn't join women in fighting to end sexism, the patriarchy and misogyny -- we would never ever end homophobia.
In 2000, Davis signed to the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent. He was cut after training camp and sent to play in the NFL's European league where he started as left cornerback for two years. After a few short stints in training camps for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, Davis retired in 2003 due to a leg injury. For his entire professional football career, Davis was in the closet. It wasn't until 2012 that he publicly came out and became an outspoken activist for LGBT issues and women's rights. "I really started to connect the fact that even though I was fighting to end homophobia, I realized the root of homophobia was sexism," Davis told HuffPost. "If I didn't join women in fighting to end sexism, the patriarchy and misogyny -- we would never ever end homophobia." Davis wants everyone -- but especially men -- to understand that sexism is not simply a women's issue. "Right now feminism, gender equality, closing the wage gap -- all of these things are thought to be a woman's job," he said. "We need do turn to men and say, 'This is our job. We're all in this together.'" HuffPost spoke to Davis about sexism, homophobia and what he's doing to fight both. What inspired you to become a feminist activist? I think I've been a feminist for a long time and just didn't know it. I remember when I was 7 years old, I used to go to a Southern Baptist church and there were no women in the pulpit. I remember asking my mom, "Why are there no women up there?" And she was like "Boy, shut up!" I think I've been very curious about the way the world works, but I think something that's been even more recent is I've been reading a lot of feminist books since probably 2010. I really started to connect the fact that even though I was fighting to end homophobia, I realized the root of homophobia was sexism. If I didn't join women in fighting to end sexism, the patriarchy and misogyny -- we would never ever end homophobia. The more reading I do, the more I realize that I actually think the root of all our evil is the hatred of women. I try to push people, male or female, to start just re-imagining how the world would look different if we thought of God as a woman. How different would our world be? Just by reading a lot of feminist books, whether it's by bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Gloria Steinem and even books like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, which has some problematic stuff in it, but I don't walk in the shoes of a woman. So to be able to look at the world [from these women's perspectives] has really helped shape the way that I think about our world and how women -- if they were actually free -- it'd be so much different.