Gay 49ers fans respond to Culliver's anti-gay remarks
SAN FRANCISCO -- The uproar over anti-gay remarks made by a San Francisco 49ers players threatens to overshadow the events leading up to the Super Bowl.
Cornerback Chris Culliver, who made the derogatory comments, apologized on Thursday. But, does the apology go far enough with the gay community?
Culliver is not used to this kind of attention from the press. But his comments on gays, made during an interview with Artie Lange, catapulted him into the limelight.
Lange: "What about gay guys? Have any of them approached you?"
Culliver: "Nah, I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that.
Lange: "Are there any on the 49ers?"
Culliver: "Nah, We don't got no gay people on the team, you know. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff."
Lange: "Is that true?"
Culliver: "Yeah, that's true."
On Thursday morning Culliver tried to backtrack from his controversial comments, saying, "I'm sorry that I offended anyone. Like I said those were very ugly comments and that's not what I feel in my heart and hopefully I can learn and grow from this experience and situation."
This almost scripted apology came after a meeting with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
"There wasn't malice in his heart," Harbaugh said. "He's not that kind of person. He's not an ugly person and he's not a discriminating person."
The 49ers are hoping the matter will go away. But the issue of gays in sports is very much alive in the Super Bowl preview issue of Sports Illustrated, which shows a picture of gay fans cheering for the 49ers at the popular bar "High Tops" in the Castro.
And former 49ers running back Dave Kopay is also addressing it. In 1975, Kopay became the first professional athlete to announce he was gay.
"I think it's a sad day for him," Kopay said in a phone interview. "He needs to grow up. He needs to pay attention to what's going on in society. He needs to pay attention to human rights."
"A lot of the conversations I've had with folks is disappointment," Dave Fujimoto said.
Fujimoto and Orlando Diaz are members of a group called San Francisco Bay Flag Football, which organizes LGBT teams and leagues. Its Facebook page had a number of comments.
" [It's] these kinds of comments that prevent these high school kids and college athletes and professional athletes from coming out," Diaz said.
It seems many fans are not upset with the team itself. In fact, several years ago the 49ers participated in the NFL's "It Gets Better" anti-bullying campaign, which featured some players. And that's something the fans will always remember.
san francisco 49ers, super bowl, castro, lgbt, nfl, lyanne melendez
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