San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver visited the LGBT support organization The Trevor Project in Los Angeles as promised to undergo LGBT sensitivity training after stating anti-gay comments prior to the Super Bowl.
“I don’t do gay guys man. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah, can’t be in the locker room man,” said Culliver to the Artie Lange Show.
The following day, 49ers management released a follow up statement in hopes of mitigating the player’s negative comments.
“There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community,” stated the release.
In order to relieve the damage done, Culliver apologized, saying “those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”
Culliver agreed to undergo in depth LGBT sensitivity training with the Trevor Project, a group that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
The Trevor Project has offered educational age-appropriate training since 2007 and recently began developing adult focused training, which is now available online and in person.
“The education Chris got is on-going. His training was a combination of two programs that we offer here: Trevor Care and Trevor Ally. His particular training was tailored to him by two facilitators,” Trevor Project Communications Director Laura McGinnis told 429Magazine.
“Everything that came out of the training was really enlightening on all ends. Everyone learned a lot and had a positive experience. We’re looking forward to the positive change that can come out of this,” added McGinnis.
“Anybody can come in and say they met with a gay organization, but Chris spelled out what he was learning. It’s not easy for somebody to recognize what they have done wrong, especially someone who a month ago was publicly anti-LGBT,” she said, paraphrasing the words of Cyd Zeigler in OutSports.
During the same time as Culliver’s controversy, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was using press from the Super Bowl hype to progress LGBT equality.
His teammate, fellow Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, also announced that he and his teammates would welcome a gay player to the team.
“We don’t care. Out biggest thing in the locker room is just to have fun and stay loose … on this team with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality … you know who you are, and we accept you for it,” said Suggs.
As the playing field of LGBT acceptance in sports continues to change, the Trevor Project hopes that “athletes can turn to the Trevor Project more often,” and use the organization as an educational resource.