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Chris Kluwe's Game Changer

The Los Al High grad and Minnesota Vikings punter is prying open America's last closet: major-league sports

No matter what happens this November, Kluwe is confident the country is changing for the better.

"I think the saying is 'History tends to move more toward greater equality over time,'" Kluwe says. "Younger generations grow up and learn that, hey, having a gay friend or knowing someone is gay, it's not the end of the world. It's not going to kill you."

In the arena of sports, Kluwe has already witnessed an evolution in the locker room, he says. When he was a rookie in 2005, it was commonplace to throw around words such as "faggot" and "gay" as insults. Now that's no longer acceptable. And when he does hear slurs, Kluwe actively calls out the other player, to set an example for the rookies.

Chris Kluwe
Photo by Tony Nelson/Hair and makeup by Nicole Fae
Chris Kluwe
Hate-free zone
Joe Bielawa
Hate-free zone

"Hopefully, when they become seven-year or eight-year vets, they can pass that on to the next generation," Kluwe says. "It doesn't matter what your sexuality is, as long as you can play on the football field."

When the majority of athletes accustomed to such language retire, Kluwe is confident an NFL player will finally be able to come out while he's still active. It will be hard, Kluwe concedes, but the player will have plenty of support from people such as he.

Asked if sexuality will ever be a non-issue in the NFL, Kluwe nods confidently.

"Yup," he says, stone-faced. "About 60 years from now, when all the old people are dead."

This article appeared in print as "Game Changer: Chris Kluwe is prying open America's last closet: major-league sports."

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