Only Love Drives Out Hate

I am a gay former NFL player who was deeply hurt by David Tyree’s past comments about homosexuality. Here’s why I am building a friendship with the Giants’ new director of player development, whose views are evolving

By Wade Davis

True compassion is never one-sided. When I first decided to tell my family that I am gay, my mother had a very hostile reaction. We went from being best friends to only speaking sporadically over the next four years. During that time, I knew she undoubtedly disapproved of what she called “my lifestyle.”

“My lifestyle” was something that she had never imagined for me. Frankly, the idea of having a gay son was something she wasn’t prepared for. When she received the news that she had a gay son, she experienced a death—the death of a “very real” dream she had for me and the life I would live. I decided that even when my mother at times said cruel things to me, I would always meet her resistance with love.

Earlier this week, David Tyree, a fellow former NFL player, accepted a job with his former team, the New York Giants. He’ll serve as their director of player development and oversee the team’s efforts to educate players on various issues away from the field. As a result, he and the Giants have come under scrutiny because of his past comments decrying homosexuality.

Though I had never meet or spoken to David, I was extremely critical of his views. In 2011, he was quoted in several media outlets saying that he “probably would” trade his Super Bowl XLII experience—his improbable helmet catch and a 17-14 win over the Patriots—to block gay marriage, which he likened to “anarchy.” I did not offer David the same opportunity I gave my mother. I wasn’t looking to offer him any real consideration or kindness because I was hurt. His words reminded me of a pain that I was trying to forget. I was also afraid that if I showed David compassion or love, he would never see the deep emotional scars that words like his left on me over the years—words that often led me to hating myself. He would never see me.

In 2011, Tyree said he'd give up his Super Bowl experience, including his famous helmet catch, if it would prevent gay marriage. (Bob Rosato/Sports Illustrated)
In 2011, Tyree said he’d give up his Super Bowl experience, including his famous helmet catch, if it would prevent gay marriage. (Bob Rosato/Sports Illustrated)

This year I have been invited by the NFL to speak at numerous events to educate players, coaches, management, and owners about LGBT issues. It was after one of those talks that I first met David. He approached me, introduced himself, offered his hand and said, “I want you to know I really respect what you do.” After having the opportunity to speak with David, I realized he is on a journey when it comes to understanding the LGBT community. He is evolving. Just as my mother did. Just as some of our most well-known supporters did. Just as I did.

During the current media firestorm surrounding Giants’ hiring of David, I paused to reflect on my initial resistance toward him and asked myself, Can we create the space for all individuals to evolve? Have we given up on understanding, engaging, and educating? Are we unwilling to offer compassion to those whose views may shock or offend us? Why has the default response now become to vilify and judge before we seek to ask questions?

Let me be very clear: I am not defending the hurtful things David said in the past. Nor am I saying his journey is complete. I am strongly defending his right, his ability, and most importantly his apparent willingness to grow as a person. And I will be working closely with him to help him along on this journey. I am hopeful that the outcome will be a positive one.

I spoke with David last night, and he asked me to quote him in this piece. He said, “My interactions with Wade over the past few months are much more representative of my current beliefs toward the gay community than some tweets from several years ago. Christianity teaches us love, compassion, and respect for our fellow man, and it is in that light that I will continue to work with Wade and others to better serve the gay community. I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could. And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that.”

My mother and I are now best friends again, and she supports me professionally and personally. She is a source of love and happiness in my life. What if I never gave her to space to evolve? What if I never offered her the same type of compassion and love that I was desperately seeking in return? It is not always easy, but I remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

As the executive director of the You Can Play Project and a social justice advocate, my role isn’t always an easy one. As a black gay man, I can be hurt and offended by someone whose views toward a specific subject differ from my own. But my goal is to build bridges, not create more dams. And I understand that without offering all individuals compassion, I cannot help foster real change. We can demand apologies and force PR teams to write statements, but if we fail to understand why others think and believe the way they do, we will never be able to help them evolve. Social justice workers are taught to “meet people where they are.” All too often it seems our real goal is to drag others who think differently to where we want them to be, kicking and screaming, without investing real time in the lives and experiences of others. As a friend once told me, that pathway results in social justice work being “incredibly social” and “insufficiently just.”

You Can Play has an important role in the LGBT sports world. We aren’t the ones writing press releases and starting online petitions. We are the ones who are called upon to have the difficult conversations. We are the boots on the ground, in the locker rooms, answering the offensive questions. Establishing long-term relationships that grow into real cultural change. Our goal is to work with—not against—athletes who say harmful and hurtful things. We don’t support what they say, but we support their ability to grow. It can be slow and frustrating at times, but I believe my ongoing relationship with David will have a positive impact on both of us, and on the New York Giants organization.

From hanging out with David Tyree and his beautiful family at the NFL rookie symposium and talking with him on the phone, I know now that he isn’t asking anyone to change. He doesn’t believe that LGBT individuals “need fixing.”

As I come to learn more about David and begin a deeper friendship with him, I’m going to talk to him about the serious and vile treatment that is conversion therapy—of which he has been a vocal proponent—and how those words have been the source of destruction for many LGBT individuals. But those honest and productive conversations can’t be had without first building a foundation for a relationship to rest on. David deserves the right to his own thoughts, his own ideas and his own opinions. And because we have been able to create a space in which he can share those with me, he is incredibly open to having more respectful conversations about LGBT inclusion. Upon that foundation I hope to keep building a better and stronger bridge. We will be able to talk about how to support LGBT players. We will be able to talk about how his faith encourages him to be loving and inclusive of the LGBT community. We will be able to talk about why the things he has said were so hurtful to so many people. We will, simply put, be able to talk to each other despite our differences. And we will be able to support each other as we continue to do the most important work, the work that we must be do on ourselves.

As I learn how to ask for compassion from others who offer resistance to my dreams, I’m constantly asking myself, Can I show the same compassion in return? Can I find inspiration from that resistance and turn it into the energy that sparks change? None of us have all the answers in life. But with a safe space in which to communicate and grow, we can always fall back on love.

 

wade-davis-headshotA former football captain at Weber State, Wade Davis was cut by the Redskins in training camp and retired in 2003 because of a leg injury. He came out nine years later in media interviews and is the co-founder of the You Belong initiative, an LGBTQ and straight ally youth sports and leadership program. He is also executive director of You Can Play and lives in New York City.

 

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101 comments
BillRobinson
BillRobinson

@xring47

Please review my new posting further down in the comments section about Dr. Spitzer's work and the APA's rejection of his original paper. In 2012, Dr. Spitzer apologized for his original study that gave credence to conversion therapy for gays.

cjasewell
cjasewell


This piece begs the question whether Tyree "feels bad" about the tweets from 19 days ago? Your tale doesn’t mention it. I wonder where do those comments fit in your “his apparent willingness to grow” narrative? You’ve aided Tyree, who meant harm less than three weeks ago, in holding onto a position of power. Well done.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Not surprisingly, Wade has a tough challenge he has undertaken. Learning and developing compassion is the highest calling of all the world's great religions and secular philosophers. As we look at the problem of terrorism, clearly one of the biggest issues we must overcome is Fundamentalism, whether it be from Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any group that attempts to read a great book literally. Love and compassion, and a belief in the Golden Rule, (which is common to all religions) and making it central to our actions is really our only hope for the future.

A guy like Wade is part of the solution, and I applaud the NFL for their efforts. It's a good start. Judging others is not a good practice for mere mortals.

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

Peter King and SI are lefty liberals that want to take over the sports media the way the left has taken over the colleges. Don't think articles like this are going away they are just getting started. We used to be able to escape the bull and concentrate on our sports but no more the liberals are everywhere and they think they are right no matter what your believe.

JeffWigley
JeffWigley

Thank you Wade, this article is dead on. I'm so thankfull that you are out there making a difference , you are saving lives.

roderickdale
roderickdale

I never understand as a Christian....... why we have to approve of Gay and Lesbian behavior......... If I don't I am a hater or ignorant.

I never ask them to approve of my  lifestyle and behavior........Because I don't care what they think of my lifestyle .

 I recognize your right to be gay, I just never will agree that it is the right thing to do........... big deal, why if you are doing right should you care ?

.

I have a friend that wears brown shoes with a balck suit, I don't approve ,,,,but deep down I don't care as lomg as he doesn't try to convince me it is the right thing to wear !

Just go live your life !

skanee00
skanee00

God has called homosexuals into lives of chastity. You're not supposed to allow homosexual feelings to actually lead you into homosexuality, because you're supposed to fight and beat your body.

Your body will lead you to commit a multitude of sins if you allow it to. Sloth, gluttony, sensualism, cowardice and perversion are just some of the things caused by following your body. The admirable and morally strong man will fight his body.

CookieBoy888
CookieBoy888

Than you Wade Davis, i loved the article - "My goal is to build bridges not create dams" - I love the quote and will be using it.


For all of the people complaining that Peter King, MMQB and SI are over talking the Gay Rights issue, the only reason the article is on this page is the fact that this is an NFL matter!! A huge one whether you like it or not.


When Peter King launched the MMQB site he stated that it will encompass everything and wont be just about scores and rosters, im sure those websites are out there, go find them.

FrankCardinalli
FrankCardinalli

Thank you so very much, Wade. I read your earlier article about Michael Sam as well. You have the

perception and grace to understand that offering an olive branch is so much more effective than wielding

an ax.  Each of us has a tongue and that tongue can either bless or curse. The choice is ours. But

in exercising that choice we must further understand that whatever the choice there will be consequences.

Emerson  in Self Reliance referred to Cause and Effect as the Chancellors of God. That so struck me when I read that essay that I understood the nature of morality and how closely it is related to nature itself in an instant.

If we were to attack our opponents in Marriage Equality, for example, as we win one legal victory after

the other we make ourselves out to be petty and vindictive. LGBT people are now leading a momentous

change in society and perception. The potential for that change you, as well as I, clearly understand is

limitless. Yet instead of the noble virtue of magnanimity being expressed by LGBT people we often see

vindictiveness and bitterness. Yes our struggle has been hard. I have witnessed this dating back to 1969. But We are now winning and those victories have brought us influence but we should avoid hubris at all costs. It is one thing to gain influence but another to hold on to that influence. The intelligent exercise of power requires both fairness and understanding if it is to last. My concern is that  bitterness and the desire for vengeance will only harm us. To brutalize those we vanquish after the victory has already been won makes no sense. As a sportsman you seem to understand the inherit unfairness of such behavior.

 David Tyree is a young man in his thirties with a new position who is responsible for supporting his family.

I know the Steve Tisch, owner of the NY Giants is a supporter of marriage equality and the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and if Steve Tisch says David Tyree belongs at the NY Giants

everyone else should either agree or just shut up about it because its none of their business. Enough of

this mindless cannibalism end our 40 year culture war now. Enough is enough.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Read the links I provided and many more that tell of the discredited leadership of Exodus and NARTH - many of whom were discovered to have continued homosexual relationships and how Exodus has shifted it focus from reparative therapy because it simply doesn't work and how they no longer work with NARTH.

xring47
xring47

@BillRobinson  It all boils down to whether or not you believe the testimony of the subjects.  The APA stated their problem was the subjects accounts could not be proven. If that is their litmus test, they will have to reject every study that includes feedback from an individual, which would include most of them.  Dr. Spitzer has also said more than once that he did not doubt their accounts and he believes they were being honest.

xring47
xring47

@BillRobinson Even people who live by the Golden Rule make judgment calls every day, such as who to hang out with, which neighborhoods to avoid, etc.  There is nothing wrong with pointing out sinful behaviors.  I would guess that Mr. Tyree doesn't support drug abuse, adultery, incest, or child molestation either.  Does that make him a bigot?

Iowa
Iowa

@JeffWigley If he was saving lives, he would be encouraging people not to live the gay lifestyle, since it is proven especially in men to result in dramatically increased risk of AIDS, STDs and anal cancer. Not flaming, those are facts.

skanee00
skanee00

Telling people "Just go live your life" will lead them to Hell, because the world is full of evil. A good Christian will encourage others not to sin.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

The above quote is very hard to comprehend. Your continued reference to fighting your body and calling others to practice chastity makes you sound unwell. Putting homosexuality (a sexual orientation, not choice) in the same class as sloth, gluttony, sensualism, cowardice, and perversion is itself a perverted distortion. I'm really trying to understand you, but I am unable to do so.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

It's not evident that your approach is working all that well. Perhaps if you had a child who is gay would lead you to try a different approach, as it did with Wade's mother.

Iowa
Iowa

@CookieBoy888 Except it's not really an issue. The vast majority of NFL players and coaches could care less who their teammates choose to sleep with, as long as they can help them win games. The media has made this a story, though, by pushing this myth of 'homophobia', and then when (many) people call out their nonsense then they can say 'see? this is a big story.' It's not, but the liberal media will continue to make it one until they have brainwashed everyone as much as they can.

Iowa
Iowa

@FrankCardinalli "Marriage equality." So this means marriage for bigamists, polygamists, the incestuous, adults marrying children, and everyone else who may want to marry, right? If it's about 'equality', then it has to. Unless they are somehow less equal.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

You obviously didn't read the links I provided or the APA's analysis and reaction to Dr. Spitzer's work and subsequent retraction of his original work. You have not properly stated the APA's analysis, which is a strong condemnation of reparative therapy. Clearly, you only read or interpret what is consistent with your previous beliefs.

Your focus on sin rather than compassion is a distortion of Christianity.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

I think it is a mistake to be calling people bigots, just as I think it is a mistake to be calling gays sinners or putting homosexuality in the same sentence as drug abuse, adultery, incest, and child molestation as an example of sinful behavior. Such judgmental behavior is not consistent with compassion, the Golden Rule, or the essence of Christianity and the world's great religions. Telling a GLBT person that he or she must abstain from sexual behavior is a losing proposition and hardly an exercise in compassion. Nor is denying marriage equality sound public policy.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

As a good Christian, you might work harder on the Golden Rule.

skanee00
skanee00

OK, you don't understand me, but maybe you'll understand this: don't piss God off. Yeah, we're all guilty of sin, and we all need to be forgiven, I know, but there are certain sins that really piss God off, so you don't want to go there, and you don't want to lead others there.

xring47
xring47

@Iowa @FrankCardinalli I think you could add people who want to marry a dog, cat, goat, pig, chicken, etc.  Then we could force the insurance companies to pay some vet bills.

xring47
xring47

@BillRobinson The APA isn't God.  They change their views all the time.


One must know what sin is in order to avoid it.

skanee00
skanee00

No, it's wrong to tell people they can do whatever their bodies lead them to doing. This is weak and leads to a complete loss of morality.

skanee00
skanee00

Lying to people by telling them everything is good and permissible is not consistent with the Golden Rule.

xring47
xring47

@BillRobinson Isn't it judgmental of you to imply that skanee00 isn't practicing the Golden Rule?

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

On the grand scale of things, I think the lack of love and compassion and failure to follow the Golden Rule is more likely to be a problem to God. "Don't piss God off" is not an expression I would expect from Jesus. It's nice to hear you're on such such casual terms with God and Jesus. I'll take my chances over yours on Judgment Day.

Personally, I think you are one sick guy. You need professional help.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

xring, do you really think your statement is a reasonable one? I doubt many people would think so.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Your preoccupation with sin, particularly with sex, is unhealthy. How do you feel about masturbation? Some claim the Bible regards it as being a sin, even though the passage referred to has nothing to do with masturbation. Are you one of the 1-2% of men who claims they deny their body of that pleasure?

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Easy to say if you're straight. The morality issues are promiscuity and irresponsibility, and they apply to both straight and gay people. You represent an ever dwindling group of Christians. Latest polls show even Catholics support marriage equality, and our younger generation looks at the older folks as being out of touch with common sense, science, and compassion.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

I never suggested everything is good and permissible. That is a willful distortion of everything I have posted. I have commented extensively on a moral framework for decision making.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Yes, but the underlying message is one of compassion.

skanee00
skanee00

Jesus never used those exact words, but yes, he warned us not to piss God off.

xring47
xring47

@BillRobinson And that, Bill, is the problem with using public opinion as a moral compass.  Public opinion is always changing.

skanee00
skanee00

Jesus said "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This means if you see someone who needs help, you should help them, because you would want them to help you if you were in their situation. You're twisting the meaning of this rule to mean people are allowed to do whatever their body wants them to. This leads people to sin.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Or to put a finer point on it, one is judging people, the other is questioning a judgment.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

So you agree you made an unreasonable statement previously, but somehow your new statement is reasonable? You obviously know little about being a gay person, but you're comfortable in judging them. Which brings me back to my original thesis that a lot more compassion is called for.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

In response to increased knowledge. You obviously don't consider all the other changes we've made to Biblical morality judgments. Think of all the people who used to be stoned to death or otherwise murdered for Biblical infractions. It would be humorous if it weren't so serious to consider your selective comprehension of the Bible and it's moralistic musings and at the same time ignore it's most important instruction: the Golden Rule.

We've learned a lot in the last 3,000 years or so. The most important lesson is to not try to read holy books literally. They weren't written to be read literally, and, indeed, they cannot be read literally. So you follow the interpretations that are used by your denomination. That's fine if it improves your life. More power to you. Please don't try to force your opinions on others.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

No, it means to show compassion and try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and truly understand them. It does not mean to judge them and force your opinions on them. Gay people have a different sexual orientation than you do. It is not a choice. Sexual intimacy is an important part of a loving relationship between two people. It's not dirty or sinful. It is a blessing that is not restricted to straight people.

Yes, both straight and gay people misuse this gift, but that is a different issue.

Jesus said you should not judge people. It is a fundamental principle of his teaching.

Your preoccupation with sin and sex is an unhealthy one in my opinion. And a highly selective one. It's very easy for you to judge others who you don't understand. You are clearly uninformed on the subject. Worse yet, you seem to be proud of your ignorance and self-righteous. I would hate to be a gay person in your family.

xring47
xring47

@BillRobinson Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your mind, soul, and strength.  The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.


How are you not attempting to "force" your opinion on others?  Because you are "'compassionate" about it?  That is just comical.

I would never "force" my opinion on others nor disassociate myself from someone who is openly homosexual.  I will share what the Bible clearly teaches is sin.  There is a difference my friend.  Otherwise, we would all have to keep out opinions to ourselves if there isn't 100% agreement within the populace on a particular issue.  Wouldn't that be a great society to live in?


Go in peace my friend.  I'm getting out of this circle.

skanee00
skanee00

"Sexual intimacy" is carnal (worldly, of the flesh), and because of that, it's only good and "loving" if God says it is. God has emphatically said in His Bible that homosexuality is not a good thing.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

"This means if you see someone who needs help, you should help them, because you would want them to help you if you were in their situation."

Do you have any idea of how sanctimonious you sound? Put yourself in the other end of that sentence. Would you really want the help of a person like yourself if you were gay? You must be kidding yourself.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

I assume you support marriage equality then?

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

No, he didn't. You're interpretation is no longer a majority interpretation. You have some deep-seated hangup on human sexuality that is perverse.

skanee00
skanee00

If you see someone who is hungry or thirsty or sick or naked or needing shelter, you're supposed to help them. If they are in prison, you look after them. If a person needs help, you help them. That is the meaning of the "Golden Rule", not to lead others into sin.

skanee00
skanee00

What do you want to hear? That homosexuality is a good thing? That's something no true Christian would ever willingly say. Jesus told us to help those in need, not to lead others into sin.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

You've got the hungry, sick naked, and shelter part right. You go off the rails on your theology of sin.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

It most assuredly is not the meaning of the Golden Rule.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Try reading Karen Armstrong's book, Twelve Steps to a More Compassionate Life. But unfortunately, you give me the impression that you know it all.

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