|Harris says he wants to help others. (Getty Images)|
When former 49ers and Raiders offensive lineman Kwame Harris was alleged in January to have assaulted a former boyfriend, it was logical to conclude that Harris, though he had never publicly come out of the closet, is gay.
In an interview with CNN on Friday, Harris admitted the obvious and said he wished he would have acknowledged it when he was still playing.
"You want to escape the despair and turmoil, and your mind goes to dark places," Harris said, via USA Today, on why he didn't come out during his six-year career. "I'm happy today, and I'm glad they were just ideas and I didn't act on any of them"
"The cost was great not [to] speak candidly open about myself in complete manner. If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength [to come out]."
Harris is now saying that he hopes other gay athletes realize they're not alone.
"I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings," Harris said. "Don't feel alone in having them."
As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported this week, a gay NFL player is considering coming out of the closest, which would mark him as the first openly-gay active athlete in major American pro sports. It's a view shared by Ravens linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo.
Obviously, though, it's still a hot-button issue. Some former college players were asked about sexual orientation at this year's NFL combine. Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons said it'd be selfish for a gay player to announce it during the season. And, you probably remember the controversy surrounding 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver during Super Bowl week.
“If you didn't do it when you were in high school or college, then why wait til your [sic] in the NFL? Whoever he is he didn't just start,” Clemons tweeted Thursday. “I'm not against anyone but I think it's a selfish act. They just trying to make themselves bigger than the team … No one said anything about be a homophobic. I just think something's should be left at home.”
Either way, Harris is out and proud now. And, as PFT points out, he joins a list of former NFLers who have revealed they're gay that includes Roy Simmons, Wade Davis, Esera Tuaolo and Dave Kopay.