05/25/2011 01:56 pm ET Updated Jul 25, 2011

Gay NASCAR Driver, Please Stand Up

Turn on the TV. Switch on ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL Sunday Ticket or any of those 24-hour satellite channels or sports webcasts that broadcast live games from across the country in one nonstop testosterone-happy grunt.

Look, right there. Did you see him? The one who just slam dunked? The one who tackled that receiver? The one who smashed that double to left center? That guy with the huge smile, hint of flair and the crazy thing with the hair? Guess what? Yep. Totally gay.

Bet on it, darling. There are gay men, right now, playing basketball in the NBA. There are gay men playing football, right now, in the NFL. Ditto Major League Baseball. Hockey, even. There are gay men (and women) scattered all over most every college team everywhere. I mean, obviously.

And I'm going to lay it all on the line and bet you a dollar -- all right, make it $10, hell, make it $100 and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and a mani-pedi in the Castro -- that there is, right this minute, a gay NASCAR driver. Oh my God! Heathen! Blaspheme! Shut up!

Whatever. He might not know it yet, he might be utterly horrified by every little twitch and gurgle in his heart and loins as he whips around the track, fervently wishing he'd been born anywhere but Kentucky or Kansas or Tennessee, but gay he is. Ain't it grand?

Here is the amazing thing: Word is getting out -- slowly, strangely, awkwardly, but it's getting out nonetheless -- that gaydom abounds in pro sports.

All right, maybe not "abounds," maybe more like struggles and trembles and panics just a little, every single day, in fear of losing a major endorsement deal and/or getting eaten by scary fundamentalist Jesus, but still. It's certainly common enough that most players already know, and few of them really give a damn except the Bible thumpers and a handful of homophobic youngbloods, and even they shut the hell up when the team makes the playoffs and everyone gets a $10 million bonus and suddenly God can pipe down 'cuz daddy needs a new Mercedes SL550 and a dozen celebratory hookers.

"Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin' idiot. I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person."

That would be the NBA's own happily blasphemin' commentator and former superstar Sir Charles Barkley, who just doesn't give a s--t what people think, who has never been one to shy away from saying awesome things at the most unexpected times, who is fond of rolling his eyes and nailing the point home.

Of course, no players have actually admitted to their same-sex predilections yet. None have dared muster the nerve. But it all seems to point to one inevitable grand event: A gay pro player, somewhere, someone at the top of his game, perhaps even a superstar, will prove a true hero and break every childishly macho stereotype we have left (excepting maybe hip-hop and country music), and come on out. Hopefully soon.

And then, maybe another. And another. Maybe they'll start a movement. Maybe they'll become instant cultural flashpoints, icons for a new generation of gay athletes (and fans), the collective Jackie Robinsons of the time, stirring up all sorts of controversial melodrama and white-hot discussion to the point where no one knows how to parse it all and everyone just throws up their hands and gets on with life because, well, the games keep being played as usual, nothing undue happens, and Jesus doesn't actually give a damn, so who the hell cares, anyway?

Not your beloved SF Giants, at least. Here's the World Series champs, the first pro team of any sport to come out, as it were, and agree to record some inspirational video for Dan Savage's stunningly successful It's Gets Better Project, all at the behest of a very dedicated gay fan. Hey, it's a step. A rather huge one....

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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the SF Chronicle and SFGate. Get it at Amazon and beyond. He recently asked that you please step away from the fear, a piece lamenting how
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