Thursday, May 19, 2011

PBA Bowler Scott Norton Discloses That He's Gay

Two public figures publicly disclosed recently that they're gay. One was Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts. The other was CNN reporter and news anchor Don Lemon. Today, PBA Rookie of the Year Scott Norton posted an article, Being gay doesn't define who I am as a person or as a professional athlete, to the PBA website disclosing that he too is gay and explaining why he's making it so public.

Scott's disclosure is no big surprise to a lot of us. He hadn't been hiding his sexuality. Go to his Facebook page and you'll see a profile photo of him with his partner. That and other such photos have been there awhile. But I imagine it is a surprise to a lot of people who haven't been to Scott's page but have only seen him bowl on TV or in person.

Some will no doubt be put off or worse by Scott's announcement. They disapprove of homosexuality, or they don't like homosexuals, or they think one's homosexuality isn't something that needs to be announced, or some combination of the above.

I personally applaud Scott's disclosure. I agree with him when he writes:
"It is extremely important for me to come out to show other gay athletes, both current and future, that it is important to come out to show that we are just like everyone else. Being gay doesn’t define who I am as a person or as a professional athlete. I'm also a professional bowler, lawyer, caring, compassionate, strong, and many other things...It's important to show people that being gay has nothing to do with one's ability to do anything as a man, least of all compete at the highest level of sports."
I don't know what difficulties Scott has faced in his personal and professional lives until now for being gay, and I don't know what, if any, difficulties and obstacles he'll face now. If he had made this announcement decades ago, it would have been a much bigger deal, and the repercussions would have no doubt been far greater. Yet, I can well imagine that there are still people inside and outside his two professions of law and bowling who will look down on him or even shun him for coming out.

I won't be one of them. I've heard Scott on PBA Xtra Frame. I've seen him interviewed on TV. I've seen him bowl beautifully on Xtra Frame and TV. I have the very strong impression that he is one class act on and off the lanes, and I wish him nothing but the best in his private and professional life.

Below is video of highlights and an interview with Scott after he won the Chameleon Championship.


  1. I figured he was. I'm glad he came out so soon. It's better for the advancement of our society for people not to feel they have to keep "secrets" inside for so long. He has set a good example. Cheers to Scott!

  2. Okay, I'll be the odd one out. I don't admire or celebrate his coming out. I don't care about his private life. I've known gays of both sexes, for most of my life. The ones that I liked and respected, were the ones that didn't flaunt it or otherwise make me uncomfortable around them. My private life is private and so is theirs.

    I don't understand or agree with this coming out thing. It has no bearing on bowling or his talent. Yet, coming out has to make things worse for him and the people around him, needlessly. It is certain that he's now put a target on his back, for all of the bigots out there.

    I'm a very private person and respect the same qualities in others. I am glad that none of my friends have forced me to make a public stand on an issue that I very strongly feel is private. If Scott were in my circle of friends, I'd be very unhappy right now.

  3. Well, Kerry, I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. I applaud Scott for coming out the way he did.

    First of all, I think he's right that gay men and women need role models who can show them that homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of and that it's generally more liberating overall to themselves and to others not to hide it than it is to be "discretely" secretive about it. And, second, I don't think Scott was too "in your face" in the way he made his disclosure, and I doubt that he's going to say much if anything more about it in such a broadly public way.

    Again, I applaud him for coming out the way he did, and I hope that he doesn't face difficulties because of it. If he does, the people who cause him problems are, in my opinion, the ones to blame for it and not Scott himself.

  4. Agreed 100%, Steve. Scott didn't flaunt it or make anyone uncomfortable, certainly no more than when a heterosexual bowler kisses his wife after a win. Kudos to Scott for being a role model.

  5. I absolutely applaud Steve, just like most of the other commentators have done on this blog. I hope that other gay athletes have the courage to come out of the closet. Young gay people, such as myself, desperately need more prominent individuals to take a stand and show others that being gay is something that they are ok with and that it is only 1 aspect of an individual's life. Great job Steve, you have created a new fan in me. I believe that far too many people unfortunately choose to hide these aspects of themselves only to come out and take a stand, when their careers are either over or they are nearing death. That is so sad. Having more and more prominent role models will reduce the level of stigma associated with simply being gay and will probably reduce the level of teen suicides from teens who feel like they have no role models or support.

  6. Thank you, Timw. As I've perused various bowling forums, I've found that most commenters are at least not harshly critical of Scott and quite a few are very supportive of his announcement, as am I. I can well imagine how reassuring and inspiring it would be to a gay person, especially a younger one, to have someone like Scott to look up to. From what I've seen, heard, and read of him, Scott seems like an exemplary human being as well as an outstanding bowler, and I wish him nothing but the very best and am glad he decided to fully come out to the public.

    I'm also glad you found this blog, and I hope you'll become a regular reader. And if you have any suggestions regarding content, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'm always looking for ideas about what to write about concerning bowling that people want to read.