Chris Kluwe continues to lead the charge for gay rights in Minnesota. His position as a married NFL player only heightens the awareness of the cause.
On June 30, he will be the grand marshal for the Twin Cities PRIDE parade.
“Being a Pride marshal is important to me because it shows that you don’t have to be part of a group in order to support that group,” Kluwe said in an e-mail to Viking Update. “I think a lot of people understand the basic concept of treating others the way you’d like to be treated, but then struggle to apply that in their lives, and my hope is I can show that even manly football players – well, as manly as a punter can be – can still support those whose rights are being denied them.”
Kluwe entered into the realm of public advocacy for gay rights issues last year when he wrote a scathing open letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. that was published on Deadspin.com. Kluwe criticized Burns for asking the Baltimore Ravens to quite the gay-rights stance of former player Brendan Ayanbadejo.
Burns’ letter said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti should “inhibit such expressions from your employee.”
Kluwe took that as an opportunity to stand up for gay rights. His letter was laced with profanity, but drove home the point of advocates for gay rights.
“I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level,” Kluwe wrote.
“As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain.
“… Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life?”
In the past year, Kluwe has also protested Ray Guy’s omission from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, incurring a fine from the NFL for taping over a Hall of Fame emblem and writing the words “Vote Ray Guy” on his uniform, blasted former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for his role in the so-called Bountygate, criticized the NFL’s replacement officials, and dealt with a Facebook imposter.
Kluwe’s outspoken ways last year began to irritate Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer, even when it was a stance about football such as Guy’s omission from the Hall of Fame.
“I don’t even want to talk about that. Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite honest with you,” Priefer said the week after Kluwe’s statement on his uniform. “Do I think Ray Guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. But there’s other ways about going about doing it, in my opinion.”
The Vikings have shown interest in other punters since then, but Kluwe remains confident he will have a job so long as he performs well on the field.
“If I can punt the ball well, then I’ll have a job. If I can’t, I won’t. That’s the reality of life in the NFL :),” Kluwe wrote in his e-mail to Viking Update.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.