“I didn’t know that I was going to come out that morning”
– Jared Max, ESPN New York
Jared Max, host of “Maxed Out in the Morning” on ESPN New York radio, thought it would be an ordinary morning when he arrived at work one day last year. When he surprised his listeners, and partly himself, by coming out as gay at the end of his pre-dawn radio show, the sportscaster quickly found himself in the international spotlight.
“I remember reading tweets in Singapore and different places in Europe, and seeing it like on European news,” Max says during a recent interview at gay sports bar Boxers NYC. “Somewhere on YouTube there is a clip of a guy speaking some foreign language I don’t know, but I’m on the freaking report. … I could have never imagined that.”
Max says there had been a “steam building” that May 2011 that led to his coming out. NBA star Charles Barkley had made comments to the media in support of gay teammates he had; Rick Weltz, president of the Phoenix Suns, and Will Sheridan, former Villanova basketball star, both came out as gay; and Sean Avery of the New York Rangers had made a public service announcement supporting gay marriage.
“I didn’t know that I was going to come out that morning,” he says. “This was all about for me needing to do this to kind of go on with my life, keep doing what I’m doing and be open and honest and get to live an honest life.” But it was more than that, he says. “I wanted to serve the community right. I wanted to serve straight people, folks who might need to be educated a little bit. I wanted to serve them. The outpouring has been amazing.”
Max says he has received hundreds of supportive emails and Facebook and Twitter messages from around the world. Late last year, he was even selected for Out Magazine’s Out100 list. (“I didn’t even know what Out100 was at that time,” he says.)
Should it be big news when someone from the sports world comes out as gay? Max wavers. “It was big news when Jackie Robinson started playing baseball,” he says, referring to the first African American Major League Baseball player, “so it should be big news.” But he continues: “I can’t wait until the day that it’s not a story. I can’t wait until the day that somebody types my name into Google and the first thing that comes up isn’t, ‘Jared Max announces he’s gay.’
“I get that it’s news, but one day it won’t be.”