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That Tuesday, December 9, 1975, David Kopay had all the appearances of a young man with everything our society admires. He looked far younger than his years. His six-foot-one, 205-pound body was in perfect athletic condition. He moved with the tense agility of a well-trained racehorse. He was a man's man, a glamorous California-tanned blond who caused every lady's eye to turn as he walked into a crowded singles bar. An editor at Playgirl had recently asked him to pose for a centerfold.
He was, in fact, thirty-three years old and within minutes of the most dramatic decision in his life as he bought that day's Washington Star to read over breakfast in a favorite place near his rented room on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Despite his exceptional appearance and an impressive football careerco-captain of the University of Washington's 1964 Rose Bowl team and some ten years as an aggressive running back for the San Francisco Forty-Niners, the Detroit Lions, the Washington Redskins, the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay PackersDavid Kopay was not a very happy man. He had tried with only half-hearted interest to organize a business selling English pub-style mirrors decorated with football graphics.
Kopay was caught in a lie between the masculine myth he so beautifully personified in public and the private reality of his life. His anxiety was so intense, he could actually feel the change about to happen. A few weeks earlier, he had returned to Washington, a lovely green city with the space that first allowed him to start breaking free of the myth. He knew intuitively that he was about to make a move, but he did not know exactly when or how. He only knew it had to do with the lies he had been forced to live with by a society that sometimes adores and worships its paid athletes as super-sexual gods and at other times dismisses them as simpleminded robots.
Like a novelist, Kopay recognized the drama in his experience and he had saved every scrap of information that would later remind him of the important incidents in his life. Like a true athlete, he wanted to be firstin this case, with the story of his homosexuality.
All of this only compounded his shock that morning when he bought The Washington Star and confronted his secret in front page banner headlines:
HOMOSEXUALS IN SPORTS/WHY GAY ATHLETES HAVE EVERYTHING TO LOSE
Excerpted from The David Kopay Story by David Kopay and Perry Deane Young. Copyright © 1988 by David Kopay and Perry Deane Young. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
NEW AMERICAN POETRY: 32
By Robert Fitterman
SUN & MOON PRESS
Copyright © 2000 Robert Fitterman. All rights reserved.