Sunday, February 2, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is an American speaker, activist, writer, educator, and former NFL football player. Today's Out Spotlight is Wade Alan Davis II.

Wade Alan Davis II was born July 28, 1977 in Little Rock, Arkansas and spent most of his childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was raised in a Southern Baptist family and went to church four to five times a week. Davis was the only boy and the youngest child in his family. He suffered from a speech impediment and did not like to talk, which added to his feelings of loneliness. At seven years of age, he discovered football.

Davis later moved to Aurora, Colorado and attended Overland High School, graduating in 1996.

He played college football first at Mesa State College, a junior college in Mesa, Colorado, in 1996. He transferred to Weber State University of Ogden, Utah in 1997 and played three seasons on the Weber State Wildcats football team. As a sophomore in 1997, Davis blocked two kicks. In 1999, his senior year, Davis made 11 tackles for Weber State and was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection. With Weber State, Davis made 142 tackles (3 for loss), one fumble recovery, 2 forced fumbles, 20 passes defended, and 2 interceptions.

At the NFL Scouting Combine of 2000, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds. The Tennessee Titans signed him as an undrafted free agent on April 18, 2000 after the 2000 NFL Draft. He was cut after training camp.

In 2001, the Titans allocated Davis to the NFL Europe team Berlin Thunder. Starting all 10 games as left cornerback, he led Berlin with 57 tackles in the season and would win World Bowl IX with the team. He also made 0.5 sack, 1 interception, and 5 passes defended. After the NFL Europe season, he spent the 2001 preseason in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

He was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Europe allocation draft by the Barcelona Dragons. In 2002 with Barcelona, Davis made 41 tackles, 6 passes defended, and 5 special teams tackles.

Davis returned to the Tennessee Titans in 2002 for training camp and preseason but was cut before the regular season. In 2003, he participated in training camp with the Washington Redskins but retired from football due to a leg injury.

In 2012, Davis came out and spoke publicly about what it was like to be a closeted gay man in the NFL.

Davis plays and serves on the board of the New York Gay Football League. After knee injuries, Davis moved to New York to start the media company, InMotion.

Davis has spoken on the experience of how his identities as a Black, masculine, gay, NFL player intersect.

For me, existing at the intersection of Black manhood, Black masculinity, sexuality and sports was the most dangerous place in the world. As an athlete you have to consistently prove yourself; as a Black male athlete, 'I' felt the pressure to consistently prove myself, my masculinity and my sexuality. I lived under a microscope, at least I thought, and I never had the opportunity to just be myself within the confines of a never-ending cycle of masculine performance. I was never alone. I was never able to relax. And I was never my authentic self. I felt so much pressure. Some of it was self-imposed and I was socialized to believe that pressure was part of the game. I knew I was expected to have sex with women, to engage in conversations that were, either, sexist, racist, or homophobic. I felt the need to prove that I belonged in that sports fraternity and that I was just as masculine as everyone else.

Davis is currently executive director for the You Can Play Project, an advocacy organization working to eradicate homophobia in professional sports. He formerly worked at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City, New York, as the Assistant Director of Job Readiness, where he helped at-promise LGBT youth learn life skills. His writings and interviews have appeared in The Huffington Post, The New York Times and Outsports.

His contributions are included in the book, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home by Keith Boykin.

His own book, Interference, is scheduled to be released. The book will detail Davis' journey from adolescence, to "coming out" and focusing on the relationship with his mother, playing in the NFL, working with LGBTQ youth and the Obama election.


destiny said...

Another inspiring role model for the Spotlight.

Florida Tom said...

Def a great Spotlight.

AUS10 said...

The first time I saw a performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, it changed my life. What a tremendous talent.

prairiegirl said...

Wow, another great Out Spotlight. I can't even begin to try to comprehend how tough it had to have been for him as an NFL player.

Sounds like he is doing some wonderful work. That's great.

Florida Tom said...

What a horrible shame about Hoffman. Great actor. He was incredible as Capote. Weird that the top two actors the year Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor both have died from drug overdoses. Hoffman and Heath. What a tragedy.