Steve Buckley announced he was gay in 2011. (Photo provided)
The Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley announced he was gay in a column seven years ago. But he says Bill Simmons tried to out him a decade earlier.
During the debut episode of WEEI’s latest podcast, “Two Outs with Steve Buckley and Alex Reimer,” the longtime sports scribe describes his coming out process. While Buckley wasn’t publicly out until 2011, he says he didn’t make much of an effort to hide his sexuality when around friends and some co-workers.
Simmons, who was writing for the defunct AOL Digital Cities in the late 1990s and early 2000s, often wrote acerbic commentary about Boston sports media members. During that time period, Buckley says Simmons made several thinly veiled references to his sexuality on his blog. Most of Simmons’ work for Digital Cities, including the articles in question, have been expunged.
“I’ve never really talked about this before, but Bill, during that period, made several references to my sexual orientation,” Buckley said. “‘Oh, he’s the most popular sports writer in Provincetown’ –– ‘wink’ ‘wink.'”
Buckley says the barbs “devastated” him and caused some angst. He was planning on coming out in 2003, but then his mother passed away, causing him to push the announcement back. When he penned his column eight years later, Buckley says he decided to not hold any grudges.
“I made a decision when I came out –– ‘Blood is a big expense,’ to use a line from the Godfather,” he said. “I wasn’t going to go carrying baggage for the rest of my life. If I saw Bill right now, I would talk to him about it. … I wanted to prevent the next Bill Simmons from trying to out me. So I dealt with it, and I moved on.”
When Buckley did come out, Simmons recorded a podcast with LZ Granderson, an openly gay sportswriter for ESPN. In it, Simmons seemed unimpressed with the timing of Buckley’s announcement.
“In 2011, is it too little to come out and write a column that says, ‘I’m gay?,'” he asked.
After the column was published, Buckley says he read some criticism from members of the LGBTQ community who felt he was exploiting the work of activists who participated in the Stonewall Riots and other seminal moments in LGBTQ history. He explains the standard-bearers of the gay rights movement laid the groundwork for him to come out.
“Someone wrote a letter to the editor in a paper that someone sent me,” Buckley said. “The basic message was, there were people back in the 60’s and 70’s and the Stonewall Riots, fighting the good fight, the AIDS quote and all of that, and they did all of the heavy lifting and then I just kind of swooped in and took advantage of all of that. Those were the real heroes. To which I say, ‘absolutely.’ But here’s why they miss the point: All of those noble people, beginning with the people who fought the police at Stonewall back in ’69, why did they do it? They did it so I could come out. They did it for me.”