Pro football legend, Michael Irvin lends his support to gay and lesbian rights in the August issue of Out. Breaking down the stereotype of the macho, homophobic athlete, Irvin says he was inspired to speak up for gay rights issues in honor of his late brother, Vaughn Irvin, who was gay.

Irvin, who has had a troubled past of drug abuse, womanizing, and run-ins with the law, says that his brother’s lifestyle may have affected the way he behaved.

“And through it all we realized maybe some of the issues I’ve had with so many women, just bringing women around so everybody can see, maybe that’s the residual of the fear I had that if my brother is wearing ladies’ clothes, am I going to be doing that? Is it genetic?” Irvin said to Out. “I’m certainly not making excuses for my bad decisions. But I had to dive inside of me to find out why am I making these decisions, and that came up.”

Irvin says that he’s speaking out now for gay rights and marriage equality because he doesn’t want to look back on his life and only be known for his athletic prowess.

“The last thing I want is to go to God and have him ask, ‘What did you do?’ And I talk about winning Super Bowls and national titles,” Irvin said, according to Out. “I didn’t do anything to make it a better world before I left? All I got is Super Bowls? That would be scary.”

In the interview, Irvin goes onto say that he would be totally supportive of an openly gay athlete in one of the major sports, and that African-Americans should be full supporters of marriage equality.

“I don’t see how any African-American, with any inkling of history, can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life,” he said, according to the magazine. “No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality, and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”

Like Charles Barkley before them, it’s good to see more athletes speak up in favor of a more inclusive society.

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