Like Snow White, a simple kiss changed North Dakota College of Science's Jamie Kuntz life forever. Unfortunately, this story doesn't end like a fairytale.
The football player for the small-town Wapheton, North Dakota school had high hopes of parlaying his career into a big-city move. But after kissing his boyfriend in the press box during a game, everything changed.
Dan Savage takes it from here:
Those plans fell apart after Kuntz traveled to a football game against Snow College in Pueblo, Colorado, on Labor Day Weekend. Kuntz had a concussion and wasn’t supposed to go to Pueblo but at the last minute Kuntz was tapped to film the game. Kuntz’s boyfriend, who lives in Denver, met Kuntz in Pueblo and sat with him in the otherwise deserted press box while Kuntz filmed the game.
"We were getting destroyed," says Kuntz, "the game was a total blowout. And I guess I got bored and so I kissed my boyfriend and some of my teammates saw us.”
After the game—just before a 15-hour bus ride back to North Dakota—NDSCS’s head football coach, Chuck Parsons, pulled Kuntz off the bus and confronted him. Kuntz denied kissing the man with him in the press box and he denied being gay. Kuntz was on Twitter for most of the bus ride back to Wapheton. He sent some tweets that alarmed his roommate—Kuntz hinted at being suicidal—and the police were called. After the police determined that he was not a suicide risk, Kuntz sent his coach a text message saying that he was gay and that he had kissed the man who was with him in the press box. Kuntz also apologized to his coach for lying.
Kuntz was thrown off the team the next morning and withdrew from the school within two days.
With press attention circulating like vultures overhead, Kuntz provided even more details about the incident.
Savage goes on to reveal that the 18-year old's boyfriend is 65.
"When my coach pulled me off the bus that night and asked me who that was with me in the press box,” Kuntz says, “I said, ‘Oh, that was my grandpa up there with me. I wasn't kissing my grandpa, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
Kuntz says that he has always been attracted to older men. Kuntz was 18 when he met his boyfriend online and Kuntz says he was the aggressor.
“I definitely pursued him," says Kuntz. "He’s a great guy. I love him."
Aware that his decision to kick Kuntz off the team reads like homophobia, Head Football Coach Chuck Parsons sent a follow-up letter to his former player to say his removal was due the distraction of the kiss and the resulting lie.
Outsports' Cyd Zeigler isn't having it.
Parsons claims his action isn’t based on homophobia. And my initial reaction when Savage contacted Outsports about this last week was to wait to learn the facts. Now I know the facts: In my not-so-humble opinion, Kuntz’s removal from the team was ENTIRELY based on homophobia.
Parsons knew what he was doing, and he knew how to legally hide the homophobia that I believe drove him to this over-the-top reaction. In framing the removal of his newly out freshman, he crafted a letter of dismissal to Kuntz that tried to distance himself from the homophobic root of the reaction.
It's ludicrous to say Jamie's sexual orientation had nothing to do with his release from the team. Kissing someone during a game isn't a distraction unless it's a 'gay kiss.' And even if it were a distraction, a slap on the wrist is more than enough to get the point across. Kicking him off the team for such a minor offense comes from one place and one place only: homophobia.
Kuntz and other teammates aren't having it, either, Savage reports:
Other members of the team, according to Kuntz, have been caught drinking, a violation of team rules; one member, a minor, was detained by the police after being found in a 21-and-over club. Some members of the team have “criminal charges and convictions,” according to Kuntz, both misdemeanors and felonies. Another player had a house party that was shut down by the police in Wapheton.
“Nothing happened to him,” says Kuntz. “He’s still on the team. He played on Saturday. I don’t feel that I should’ve been kicked off the team for this. It was a kiss. It was a mistake, but it was just a kiss. We weren’t making out.”
A teammate of Kuntz's who asks not to be named agrees. “I didn’t see anything during that game, but my teammates told me they saw Jamie up in the press box with another guy and that they were doing stuff. From what I hear they’re saying Jamie got kicked off the team for lying. But if he broke a team rule about lying then I think a suspension should’ve been the punishment and not getting kicked off the team.”
(Source and image: Dan Savage at The Stranger; Outsports)