Israel Gutierrez is an NBA columnist for ESPN.com and a regular panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn and The Sports Reporters.
He is also, as of last week, an openly gay man, after coming out in a post on his blog here: Hello World
“I've been agonizing for months trying to figure out how to do this. It's been incredibly difficult, to the point where I usually talk myself in circles and end up making very little sense. So I decided on this simple blog entry. No formalities, no restrictions, just me letting you into a portion of my life I've kept largely separate from my professional career. I'm gay, which plenty of people, I'm sure, have either deduced or just guessed as much over the years."
He’s gay and he’s engaged and he’ll be married this weekend. And he’s come a long way from the Izzy he was as a kid; that kid, from his early teens until his late 20s, would blow out his birthday candles and make the same wish: "Please don't let me be gay."
"Every time I prayed, I made sure to ask God to help me through this. To help reveal my true self."
Finally, in 2010, he got his wish, though not the “please don’t make me gay’ one, when Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas came out.
"As far back as I can remember, I've always enjoyed sports, enjoyed competition. But there was always, especially in my teenage years, a confidence barrier I could never break through. I couldn't really explain it then. I mean, I probably knew deep down that it was because I was gay, and for some reason that made me feel I wasn't on the same playing field, almost literally, as straight men. But I was already in deep denial about my sexuality, so acknowledging that would've probably broken me back then."
"Not only was there, possibly, someone out there for me, but I had been making life so unnecessarily difficult on myself. I was so concerned about fitting what other people thought I should be, I was literally wasting an entire segment of my life. In a sense, all the prayer worked because I eventually saw my true self, and I've never been happier. I'm confident that now that this is out in the open, I can deliver an even better version of my professional self. Happiness tends to bring out the best in a person. And I'm so happy right now."
Welcome out, Izzy, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding. And what better gifts can a newlywed couple receive than the Official coming Out Toaster Oven and a copy of The Gay Agenda.
Welcome out and congratulations on your happiness. Who doesn’t deserve that?