NBA superstar Dwight Howard sat down with Fox Sports 1’s Kristine Leahy last night to address the gay rumors that have been following him since last year.
“I’m not gay,” Howard said point blank. “There’s people who have different problems in life and they have to hide. They have to put on the mask every day, and it’s like, I don’t wanna wear no mask, I just wanna be.”
Howard found himself having to deny gay rumors last November when a man by the name of Masin Elije alleged that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with the NBA player, who later offered him “hush money” in exchange for signing an NDA about their affair after it ended, then threatened to “beat the sh*t out of him” when he refused.
33-year-old Howard told Leahy that the story was completely fabricated and resulted in him receiving hate mail from people he had never met before in his life.
“I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I’ve never met before, just pile up everywhere I went,” Howard said.
Ultimately, this helped him understand why so many athletes are afraid to come out.
“I saw how a lot of people would feel, whether they’re gay or they’re straight, or whether they have issues, people are afraid to be who they are,” he continued.
“They’re afraid to just step out and be, like you said, because they’re afraid of what other people might say or think about them. And so that situation made me realize, you not like this, but just be you, be free.”
But homophobes, being homophobes, refused to believe Howard, insisting that he is gay, and then mocking him for it.
After the interview aired, they came out in full force on Twitter, essentially proving the point he was trying to make: that many people remain closeted for fear of the treatment they will receive after coming out.
Meanwhile, Elije responded to Howard’s interview by tweeting:
The tweet has since been deleted; however, he later tweeted: “I don’t get mad, I just get money.”