Sunday, February 16, 2014

Omaha World-Herald publishes remarkable account of college football player who came out at Nebraska 11 years before Michael Sam did at Missouri

Eric Leushen during his playing days at Nebraska.
Photo: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
World-Herald columnist Matthew Hansen has written a remarkable account of how University of Nebraska kicker Eric Leushen came out to his team. (Spoiler: in these situations, it's never a bad idea to be tight with two of the squad's most popular players.)
     After Eric truthfully answered his buds' direct question and the word trickled out, some assistant coaches began to covertly insult him, but Ron Brown, who became a symbol of arrogant antigay intolerance last year, when he sternly lectured the Omaha City Council about its (subsequently favorable) consideration of added LGBT antidiscrimination provisions, was not among the coaches who dissed him, Leushen took pains to point out to writer Hansen.
     One lineman who never let Eric Leushen pass him in the locker room without intoning "faggot" sotto voce, accosted Leushen a year later at a party, and drunkenly foisted his personal bottle of Crown Royal onto Leushen for a swig, who thanked him on account of it being his birthday, at which point his former tormenter yelled, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" at him and the room, then confided that he used to hate him but didn't any longer because he was a cool dude and then slurred a promise that he would take care of anyone who had a problem with him.
     The part of Hansen's account that AKSARBENT found most touching— and something Husker fans should be very proud of — was this:
     He thinks of that night in 2005 when he looked at his boyfriend, whom he would date for two years. His boyfriend looked at him. “You ready?”
     Together they walked toward the music.
     Part of what Eric cherishes are the looks on his teammates' faces as they neared the dance floor.
     Nebraska football players slapped him on the back as he passed. They offered his boyfriend high-fives. They cheered like he had just hit a 52-yarder. They cheered like friends.

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