Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood

Aaron Rodgers. Photograph by Mike Morebeck.

Aaron Rodgers. Photograph by Mike Morebeck.

So I’m Googling Aaron Rodgers to give him a shout-out on Twitter for having the guts to come back from a broken collarbone and maneuver the Green Bay Packers into the playoffs when up pops this stuff about him being rumored to be gay and how the personal assistant (code for boyfriend) left him after he reneged on coming out.

Rodgers addressed the issue Tuesday on his weekly radio show. 

"I'm just going to say I'm not gay," he said on 540 WAUK-AM in Milwaukee. "I really, really like women. That's all I can really say about that."

Here’s what I’ve learned from life thus far: No one ever really knows anyone. He could say he was gay, straight, bisexual, neither and we still wouldn’t know any more than we do right now. So I figure as long as people aren’t hurting others, they are entitled to their privacy. 

Which brings up an interesting question: When does truth trump privacy? Do people, particularly minorities, have an obligation to represent those minorities and immediately let us know that they are part of those groups? Again, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, people have a right to act in their own self-interests. When I read Chapter I of my forthcoming novel “Water Music” to my writing class, certain classmates wondered why the athletes were closeted. What’s the big deal?

But you see the fact that Aaron Rodgers’ coming back from a broken collarbone to engineer a big victory for his team has to vie with gay rumors tells you that it is a big deal, particularly in sports like football. (It’s an issue I address further in my second novel, “In This Place You Hold Me,” which is about an NFL quarterback’s search for a racial and sexual identity. You can read the first chapter on this site.)

Let’s suppose a football player of Rodgers’ caliber did come out. Forget that this would be the first question at every press conference and the first paragraph of his obituary. Forget the haters, the loonies and the stalkers. That would be the least of his problems. Neither he nor his team would know a moment’s peace on the field. He would be forever looking over his shoulder, and his teammates would be forced to defend him.

In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if we all had the courage to be open books. But few people live their lives that way, and courage comes in many forms as we each have different roles to fulfill in this world. I can’t imagine coming back from a broken collarbone to throw a football and risk injury again. The pain must’ve been excrutiating.

Some day maybe we’ll hear about breakups and say, “Gee, that’s too bad” without wondering about people’s sexuality. Some day maybe we’ll judge others, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exhorted us to, solely by “the content of their character.”

Some day.