Years before the sports world began its recent shift towards embracing LGBT athletes, former NBA star Tim Hardaway blasted the gay community in a 2007 interview, saying that he hates gay people. But today, it seems like Hardaway has had a change of heart and mind. He recently advocated legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida.
According to the Huffington Post, on Wednesday night, Hardaway became the first person to sign Equal Marriage Florida, a petition to repeal a 2008 state amendment banning same-sex unions.
Hardaway’s new pro-gay stance is a stark contrast from the anti-gay stance he displayed after fellow NBA alum John Amaechi came out as gay in 2007.
“You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known,” Hardaway said while speaking of Amaechi’s decision to come out. “I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic.”
Hardaway was immediately met with a backlash from upset fans and sports stars who criticized him for his hateful words. Hardaway soon apologized, saying he ”had no idea how much it hurt people.”
After taking classes at a Miami-area LGBT suicide center, Hardaway began raising money for a suicide hotline for gay youth. In 2011, he fought a recall of three local politicians in El Paso who voted to restore health benefits for gay city employees.
Now, Hardaway is promoting the Equal Marriage Florida petition, which needs at least 680,000 signatures in order to be placed on a ballot in November 2014. A subsequent vote would then help to determine whether Florida would become one of a growing number of states to recognize same-sex marriage.
Regardless of what happens – we hope Florida votes in favor of same-sex marriage. – It’s great to see that Hardaway has grown from a to an active LGBT ally. Hopefully, his change of heart and mind will help others to become more accepting of the LGBT community as well.
Thankfully, he’s not alone. Check out some other reformed homophobes below. – nicholas robinson