Born Gay

In his 1996 best-seller "Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About The ‘Win or Else’ Dallas Cowboys", author Skip Bayless spent a few pages on rumors that Troy Aikman was gay.

Bayless stated clearly that he’d seen no evidence that Aikman was gay, but wrote that he was struck by the number of people, including then Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, who questioned Troy’s sexual orientation and peddled rumors that the Dallas quarterback had sex with men.

In his 2008 book "Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty," Jeff Pearlman writes:

Through all the drama, the biggest bombshell of 1996 came with the release of a book, Hell-Bent, written by local scribe Skip Bayless. Billed as a biography that would spill the "crazy truth" of the ’95 Cowboys, the prime rib of Bayless’s text emerged out of a six-page span in which the author suggested Aikman was gay.

Wrote Bayless: I had heard the rumor since 1991. An off-duty Dallas police officer who traveled with the Cowboys and worked security at their hotels first told me that ‘the word on the street’ was that Troy Aikman was gay. Over the next four years, I heard the rumor from two more police officers who worked around the team (and I know they mentioned it to team officials). One officer told me Aikman ‘was supposed to be’ having a relationship with a male member of a country-western band."

While Bayless attempted to ward off critics by noting that Hell-Bent featured 284 pages not dealing with Aikman’s sexual orientation, he had broke two written-in-blood journalistic tenets:

A. Don’t out people for the sake of book sales.
B. If you decide to ignore Rule A, know what the hell you’re talking about.

In his book, Boys Will Be Boys, Pearlman describes in minute detail all sorts of deviant private behavior. Yet he takes great offense at a book that describes rumors of one type of deviant behavior — homosexuality. Why?

I email Jeff Pearlman: "Why is it so heinous to out somebody for possible homosexuality? Why is it that immeasurably worse than outing someone for using hookers, committing adultery, taking illegal drugs, et al?"

Jeff responds: "To be honest, I find the premise of that question pretty offensive—akin to people who compare homosexuality to some sort of disease that needs to be cured. Being gay is not a sin; a lifestyle choice; a crime; a sinister plot against society. It’s a sexual orientation with which you are born; it’s who you are as a person—and American society is still largely unable to accept it. Now, if we lived in a world where being gay was a non-issue, it wouldn’t matter. But it’s such a huge burden for one to carry—especially in sports—that to violate someone’s privacy is evil."

I find this response fascinating. First, Jeff finds the premise of my obvious question offensive. Second, Pearlman declares homosexuality not a sin.

Jeff is Jewish but he’s not being authentic to Judaism (or Christianity) if he suggests that same-sex sex is not a sin.

He says being gay is not a crime. Well, that would depend on the society. In some societies, it is a crime to have sex with members of the same sex. It used to be a criminal offense in America.

Pearlman declares homosexuality is a sexual orientation with which you are born. Fascinating. There’s no evidence for that. There’s been no gay gene discovered. In fact, about half of men who declare themselves gay have had sex with women. So clearly these men at least have a choice.

Jeff told me: "I was upset with Skip because he outed a man, and—adding to it—the man wasn’t even gay."

How would Jeff know if someone was gay? If it is just an orientation, then who knows what someone else finds erotic? I’m sure there are plenty of gay men are married to women. Such men prefer sex with men to sex with women but for various reasons choose conventional heterosexual marriage.

Pearlman reminds me of those sex workers who are very proud that there are certain acts they won’t do. Sure, they’ll ball twelve guys in an afternoon, but they won’t do interracial.

Jeff will out sports stars for racism, adultery, drug use and criminal violence, but he won’t out them for homosexuality and he won’t do interracial for money.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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