Michael Irvin was never shy in speaking out on the football field, whether to remind an opponent that he had just been beat, or to rally his teammates on the sidelines. Now, Irvin is lending his voice to the fight for equality, appearing on the cover of this month’s issue of Out, a gay men’s magazine.
Irvin says in the article that his relationship with his brother Vaughan, an openly gay man who died of stomach cancer back in 2006, did a great deal to mold his views on same-sex relationships. According to the magazine, Irvin became aware of his brother’s sexuality in the seventies, after discovering Vaughan wearing women’s clothing, an experience that deeply affected the Hall of Fame receiver. Irvin has since reflected on the appearance with the help of Dallas Bishop T.D. Jakes.
"And through it all we realized maybe some of the issues I've had with so many women, just bringing women around so everybody can see, maybe that's the residual of the fear I had that if my brother is wearing ladies' clothes, am I going to be doing that? Is it genetic?" Irvin said to Out, per ESPN Dallas. "I'm certainly not making excuses for my bad decisions. But I had to dive inside of me to find out why am I making these decisions, and that came up."
Irvin’s credits his father, Walter with championing a tolerant brand of Christianity and accepting his gay son. Now, the Hall of Famer is asking the African-American community to support marriage equality for same-sex unions.
"I don't see how any African-American, with any inkling of history, can say that you don't have the right to live your life how you want to live your life," he said. "No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality, and everybody being treated equally, I don't want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn't deserve equality."
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