GLAAD is speaking with league officials from the NFL following the use of an anti-gay slur on Twitter by Cleveland Browns Rookie LB Tank Carder. We are also in communication with several other LGBT sports organizations who have been in contact with the Browns organization.
Last week, Carder tweeted an anti-gay slur at another Twitter user. (all screenshots via OutSports)
Initially, Carder was unapologetic, saying critics were getting "butt hurt," and arguing that while he didn't "agree" with being gay, using an anti-gay slur doesn't make him a homophobe.
Carder has since deleted the tweets and issued an apology.
The Cleveland Browns issued a statement, saying:
"These comments are certainly not reflective of the Cleveland Browns organization, nor do we condone them in any fashion. We have spoken with Tank and have made this very clear to him."
We're hoping for a positive resolution to this, one that makes a powerful statement about how the world of professional sports should be a safe space for all fans and athletes, regardless of their sexual orientation. In the meantime, a formerly closeted football player from Carder's alma mater has written an incredibly moving open letter to Carder, talking about his own experience as a gay athlete.
As a public figure and a representative of both TCU and the NFL, your words have power, especially for young athletes who happen to be gay. When I was an athlete at TCU, I lived in fear for many years over what would happen if my coaches or teammates learned that I was gay.
I feared that I would be kicked off the team or that my scholarship would be taken away and that my family would be embarrassed and ashamed. As a result, I hid in the background and didn’t play to my full potential because I was concerned that any attention I drew to myself would lead to further questions about my personal life and to rumors or ridicule that would ultimately have me removed from the team.
The letter is well worth reading in full.
We will update the story as more news becomes available.