Jason Collins received virtually universal praise — and rightfully so — for his decision to come out in April, but there’s another gay pro athlete whose decision to publicize his homosexuality has flown much farther under the radar.
In October, Puerto Rican featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz announced that he is gay, and for the most part, he faded from the public eye afterward — especially once he defeated Jorge Pazos in his first post-coming-out fight.
But now, Cruz is back in the headlines as he continues to further the cause for gay athletes because he’s getting married.
According to NBC Latino, Cruz proposed to his boyfriend, José Manuel, with a video on Facebook. Here’s a transcript of the message, which was spoken in Spanish, according to the site:
“I wanted to tell you how much I need you and how much I miss you. I know you are a person that means a lot to me and that supports my career and respects it which is very important, but above all you are always there giving me that push that I need. Now more than ever that I have an important fight coming up for the World Championship. I want to tell you that you are a very special person in my life. I am a little nervous, but I want to tell you and share with your friends and my friends if you want to marry me. I want you to be part of my life and me be part of yours.”
NBC Latino also reported that Manuel responded with a video of his own, in which he said: “I want to say yes. I accept marrying you because I love you and adore you. Yes, I do want to marry you because I love you, I love you, I love you very much. We will keep going forward and you will see how happy we will be. I love you papi from my heart.”
El es una persona tan maravillosa q me entiende me apoya y respeta mi deporte el es lo maximo dtb flaquito. Tqm pic.twitter.com/XvOIz0oD0n
As he noted in his own proposal, Cruz (20-2-1) is scheduled to fight Orlando Salido (39-12-2) for the vacant WBO featherweight title on October 12. But win or lose, it’s still refreshing to see that Cruz’s love for his partner isn’t being affected by his career in the public arena.
That, of course, isn’t to say that Jason Collins or any of the other athletes who have come out aren’t also helping to increase visibility and acceptance for gay athletes. But to so publicly champion homosexuality in a sport where tolerance is often in short supply — and where violence is central to the sport’s existence — is a feat worth commending.