It has been almost six years since Jason Collins became the first athlete from any of the four major professional American sports to come out as gay. To this day he is the only male athlete to ever do so, apart from Michael Sam who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 but cut from the roster shortly afterward.
Recent allegations against Washington Wizards center, Dwight Howard, have raised speculation about his sexuality. The man who has brought the allegations against him claims that he was harassed by Howard and threatened with violence if he were ever to bring information regarding Howard's sexuality to light.
Professional sports, apart from the WNBA, are seemingly the last bastion of homophobia in this country. There has to be a reason that the percentage of out male athletes, which is zero, and the percentage of out males in other professions is so drastically different.
The problem does not lie with sports themselves. The amount of women in professional sports who are members of the LGBT community is staggering in comparison to men. The problem lies with men. Locker rooms and male-centric organizations seem to breed such a hostile form of toxic masculinity that gay male athletes are forced into threatening the men that they form relationships with. Every athlete, male or female, needs to realize that the world is not the same homophobic, closed-minded, ignorant, place that it once was, and sports don't have to be either.
Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether the allegations brought against Dwight Howard have any validity, but I can tell you this: If he had come out and been willing to live his truth, the LGBT community would have accepted him. He could have reignited a legitimate movement in professional athletics that was started by Jason Collins all those years ago, and it's a shame that this has caused another stain on the history of LGBT athletes.