In his new memoir To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball, Giants pitcher and noted Jesus fan Jeremy Affeldt describes his experience coming out as a straight icon in a town full of homosexuals.
Before he played for the Giants, Affeldt used to hide in his hotel room for days to avoid interacting with people who might be gay anytime his team played in San Francisco. For years at the start of his pro career, there was "no chance" he would ever sign with San Francisco, Affeldt wrote on his blog earlier this year. The Giants right-hander literally could not make himself go out in public because he was worried he would have to interact with people of a different sexual orientation:
"I would stay in my hotel room the entire time. I would only come out to go to the ballpark. When it was time to get on a train, I wouldn’t even leave the hotel and wait on the sidewalk. Instead, I’d stay inside and look out the doors."
To make things worse, he even tried out drag once in his rookie year:
"...when I was a rookie in 2002 and we played the A’s, my teammates dressed me up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for rookie initiation. They dropped me off about eight blocks from the hotel. Now, I know everybody knows about San Francisco. So imagine being dressed as Dorothy, with a goatee, and having to run to the hotel."
Now look at him: he's got two massive championship rings, an $18 million dowry and his wife produces magical offspring. He's practically gay married to San Francisco.
"There's a chapter in [the new book] of me coming to San Francisco and being hesitant because I had homophobia and now I don't," Affeldt told the AP. "I see more San Francisco as a city of love and a city of passion and compassion. It's unbelievable this city."
Although Affeldt now proudly has gay friends and colleagues, his first epiphany happened in a Cincinnati Starbucks in 2008, where his son was befriended by an especially nice barista.
As if there were any doubt that Affeldt were a great guy, he also describes the time he turned down an extra half a million dollars on his 2010 season contract because of a typo that the Giants made. That incident won him the title of "The Most Honest Athlete In America?" from a newspaper in the U.K., where they are contractually obligated to question everything in their headlines. Affeldt also does a great deal of work with trying to put a stop to sex trafficking in Asia and his second gospel No Man is reportedly already in the works.
Salon, meanwhile, reminds us that Affeldt isn't the first to come out as a reformed homophobe. Newark, New Jersey Mayor and Internet icon Cory Booker also struggled with a personal fear of homosexuals, which eventually overcame during those all-important college years.