Everything about Orlando Cruz makes Alyssa Royse happy. But particularly the fact that he’s knocking homophobia straight out of the park (as well as the ring).
Okay, I don’t follow boxing. I’m one of those people who can’t stand to watch people hurt each other. But everything about Orlando Cruz makes me happy. By whatever antiquated definition people are still hanging onto ideas about “A Man’s Man,” Cruz is knocking it out of the park. Wait, wrong sport. (Go Cards!)
I am one who defines the power of a person by the grit with which they reach for their own goals, stand up for what they believe in, allow themselves to be vulnerable for the things they truly love and make the world a better place for all. By those standards, Orlando Cruz is, indeed, a champion. In what is still one of the most “macho” sports around, Cruz came out as gay in 2012, saying, “I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man. I don’t want to hide any of my identities.”
In the spirit of not-hiding, Cruz will be wearing his pride proudly, in custom-made rainbow shorts. (Please, Everlast, make these available to the general public, I’d like a pair, XS, please. My husband would like a M.) And regardless of whether he wins or loses this match, he plans to marry his long-time boyfriend on November 16.
What does all of this have to do with boxing? Not a damned thing, and that’s what’s so awesome about it. He is achieving the heights of his career based on his skill. He is earning the respect of his colleagues and the community on his integrity. Who and how he loves is having no impact whatsoever on his career. As it should be. And at the same time, his career is not dictating how he lives and loves. Also as it should be.
I am very optimistically hoping that the tides of homophobia in pro-sports are finally turning. Although Cruz may be the most public, currently competing professional athlete to come out of the proverbial closet, he is hardly alone. Policymic has this great list of pro athletes who came out of the closet in 2012. Let’s hope the 2013 list is even longer. And that maybe by 2020 we have the vision to stop caring about people’s sex lives at all, and having a gay, straight, bi, poly pro athlete is not noteworthy at all.
Until then, however, GO CRUZ!
And really, I want a pair of these shorts.