Torii Hunter: It would be "difficult and uncomfortable" to play with gay teammate
This past year has been a coming out party for gay-friendly professional athletes.
Photo: Keith Allison, Flickr. Hunter's comments are already stirring up negative feedback.
In Minnesota, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe became the NFL's most aggressive straight ally, and a spokesman for the campaign to a defeat a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In our October cover story on Kluwe, "Game Changer," many speculated his position could signify a turning point, and pave the way for the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American sport.
Outsports.com is characterizing 2012 as "The Rise of the Straight Ally," citing dozens of steps forward in the sports universe throughout the year, including boxer Orlando Cruz and former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy coming out as gay.
But of course not every pro athlete is itching for the first gay player to make history. Here's what former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter told the L.A. Times:
But former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, among baseball's most thoughtful and intelligent players, isn't kidding when he says an "out" teammate could divide a team.
"For me, as a Christian ... I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right," he says. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."
Hunter's comments aren't quite as controversial as those of Tim Hardaway -- who in 2007 bluntly told a reporter, "I hate gay people" -- but they've unsurprisingly stirred up negative feedback.
Kluwe already commented on Twitter this morning:
Saw the Torii Hunter comments. It's sad when people take something founded on tolerance and turn it into bigotry. Says a lot about them.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) December 31, 2012
Torii would also do well to remember that religion was used to deny black people their rights not too long ago. Have a little empathy.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) December 31, 2012
As the L.A. Times points out, others have taken to criticizing Hunter as well.
Meanwhile, around 11:20 a.m. today, Hunter responded on his Twitter account, accusing the reporter of taking his statements out of context:
I'm very disappointed in Kevin Baxter's article in which my quotes and feelings have been misrepresented. He (cont) tl.gd/kidgaq— Torii Hunter (@toriihunter48) December 31, 2012
Don't believe everything u read. Misleading and way out of context.— Torii Hunter (@toriihunter48) December 31, 2012
UPDATE: 12:00 p.m.
In an email to City Pages, L.A. Times reporter Kevin Baxter says he stands by the reporting, and has Hunter's comments recorded.