I know I haven’t written in a long time. Getting back behind the keyboard feels a bit strange and oddly venerable.
The season didn’t exactly finish as planned, but behind the pain of a heartbreaking loss there is a much larger story. The fact of the matter is no matter how many games we won or lost, this season was a lot bigger than me.
So how was it, the first season of being an openly gay coach? Doing it on a public level?
Well, in a word – unremarkable.
Fascinating isn’t it? In all honesty I approached this season with the impression that somewhere at some point something bad would happen. Maybe it would be an angry fan or player or parent who would rattle off some homophobic slur. I prepped myself and it was all for not.
Every once and awhile a parent would wonder, “which one is the gay coach?” Almost like they were in the presence of some rare, exotic bird that they hadn’t ever seen before. They’d stare at me with some sense of wonder or puzzlement. It never bothered me.
Maybe it wasn’t wonder or puzzlement. I could be completely wrong in my assessment of their curiosity, but it never felt that way.
The first time Coach Howren introduced me and the kids and I talked I said, “Hi. I’m Coach Wickes. Thought you guys should know something – I’m gay. It’s important for you to know that. I advocate for respect and tolerance in the locker room, but this is really the only time you’ll hear me talk about it.” And it was.
I’ll never forget after I said I was gay one of our star guys said, “It’s cool.”
We’d joke from time to time as the season went on about how fashionable I was or that we could “win with the gays.” (That ones my favorite). All very normal, harmless and even humanizing interactions.
Another great season for the Raiders and a little more quietly a brilliant success for gay coaches and players everywhere. Truly a credit to Coach Howren and the other coaches on staff who, I think if you’d ask them, would tell you the same –
How was having a gay coach on staff?