I didn't know your story prior to reading the book, so I was surprised that you never came out to any other players or anything. Do you look back and wonder 'was I too cautious here? I could have opened up to people I was close to back then?'
No. I think, pretty clearly from what's happened, it would have caused a great deal of disruption. It would have been very difficult, so no, it was well planned.
And once you hit Utah, it seemed your time there was so frustrating, I don't know if coming out could have made it worse.
Well, of course it could have, I could have been fired. In (3) states in this country, including Utah, you can be fired for being gay with no recompense.
Now that the book is out, have you been able to interact with a lot of gay youth on the road? Are you hearing from a lot of young people who are finding the book?
A lot of young people have been in touch with me through my website. They do get in touch and it's an important role I can play, to try and act as a mentor and a role model in lots of different classes. Certainly not just to gay and lesbian young people, but including GLBT youth. It's a role I take very seriously.
Well, it seemed interesting that you made time to work with youth the whole time you were actively playing basketball through the Big Brother program, and now you have the center for basketball in Manchester and getting young people involved in that. Is there a reason you always seem to do outreach with a youth angle?
I'm a psychologist, so I'm interested in the success of all people, but my particular skill is in working with young people. I think it's where I'm best suited. It's something particularly unusual. It's just where my skills lie. I'm more patient, more diligent, and somewhat of a more lasting ability to work with young people than with adults. To work with people in their formative years is very important.
Mark Cuban seemed to think that an NBA player could come out now and they would just be rolling in endorsements.
Sometimes you have to give the appropriate amount of weight to the words of people. I like Mark Cuban. He's a good man. But how would he know that? And is there any evidence to support that at all? There's one endorsement in the history of out gay male athletes, and I have it. But there's only one. It's not millions of pounds. So, there's no evidence to support that as a theory. It needs to be a down slight more than a theory before people are going to feel comfortable about it.
And are you still on book tour now?
That is done. I'm back to work now.
I see that in a couple days you're going to be at the Final Four, so it seems you're constantly in the role of debating: can there be openly gay athletes. But it seems, personally, you're trying to address a broader scale. Is that the nature of the beast?
I don't know what we'll be discussing at that event, whether that will be the question. There are broader issues than homophobia in sports other than 'are there going to be openly gay athletes.' There are broader issues than that. There are issues that there are gay people in sports now, in college and the professional ranks and, as such, the environment created around them should be one that assumes there will be gay people.
It seems like you were constantly struggling with, was it too much of a sacrifice to put your life on hold for the sake of your career?
There's a balance that had to be reached between my desire to have a real, full life and my career, and I made those sacrifices for a period of time and, then, I decided it was time for a change.
So, what has it been like? I mean, it's only been several months since you've been publicly known as...
You have to understand, this is not like some major revelation for me. I've been living out in England for a long time, for three years. So, this is just a different country that didn't know. But, for me personally, it's not as if it's been a new experience for people to know that I'm gay. It's just a different group of people who didn't know before and now do. So, it's not been this revelatory kind of thing. And I haven't really had time to reflect on it, because I've been working. There were six weeks there where I did nothing but run around on the book tour and work and work and work, and I was home for a week and now I'm back. So, there hasn't been time for me to reflect on anything. Every day, I mean... I've done seven interviews so far today, starting at nine o'clock this morning. So, there isn't much time for me to hang out, relax, or whatever else. It's not what people would expect. I haven't had time to reflect.
And is there a next big thing on the horizon for you?
No, nothing changes for me. I'm not a different person today than yesterday. I'm a psychologist. I'm a consultant. I will continue to do those things. I'll work with GLAAD, and GLSEN, and HRC, and take an active role there. But it's just another string to my bow. It's not instead of anything. I'm also still the president of a disability charity in England. I'm also still an ambassador for the NFPCC in England. You know? It's just additional.
And has basketball gained a more prominent role in England? Has there been another NBA player from the UK, or are you still it?
I'm it, right now.
It seems to be gaining popularity, at least in the amount of people who are coming to play at your center.
Oh, it's a very popular sport. There's just no professional presence. It's very popular.
And do you have any advice for youth, as far as being open about their sexuality?
Coming out is not a one-step process. You don't just stand on the rooftop necessarily and scream to the world. You can, but you don't have to. Coming out is a process of living more openly. It's about finding a connection. It might be one person, a best friend, a coach, a teacher, a parent, a sibling, and investing in them, someone you can trust, your whole life. That's what it's about. It doesn't require that you necessarily have to do what I do, and yell from the rooftops. But, in life, you need to make connections with people in order to thrive and survive. And I encourage young people to do that. Find just one person that can share their life more fully.
And how do you overcome an addiction to Twinkies?
You just stop. It's as simple as that. I don't eat them.
Well, in honor of you this morning, at the grocery store, I bought some loose leaf Earl Grey tea, so I'll give that a try today.
It's very different. A lot of people don't like it very much, so good luck with that.
OK, I'll let you go now and prepare for your eighth interview.