What Does Consent Mean To A Black, Gay, NFL Footballer?

Wade Davis was asked to be a participant in #theCONSENTconvo, a weekly discussion on what does the word consent mean.  Usually a term used in dealing with and dismantling rape culture, the word consent needs to be discussed.

Essence.com shares its interview with Wade Davis entitled "Black, Gay, NFL Footballer – Consenting To Self-Love & Unmasking Hyper Masculinity"


“I hated being gay. I couldn’t reconcile being gay, an athlete and a man because I was taught so early and for so long that being gay was the worst thing that you could be.” explains Wade Davis, a former NFL player raised on the hyper masculine world of football where dudes are revered, worshipped, the Alpha.

Wade joins me for this week’s #theCONSENTconvo, my public conversation campaign on consent where I talk with Black men and women about their personal journeys in learning about consent, and how those journeys shaped their relationships – to their bodies, to sex, to women, to men, to power.   Wade talks performing stereotypical heterosexuality, losing the mask of hyper masculinity, reconciling his world of football to being a Black gay man, reframing consent. 

Like so many of the contributors to this week’s long public conversation campaign, he had not heard the word ‘consent’ coming up.

“I was never taught about intimacy, sex, consent, I learned about sex from television and porn. Those are some of the worst ways to learn about it. I don’t remember anyone in my life ever talking to me about consent – as a kid, as a teenager, even as an adult.” Aggression is breathing in the world of football and vulnerability is death.  And yet for Wade, consenting to sex was initially about safety. Wade admits his struggle meant being scared of sex and being naked with someone.   “We as men don’t talk a lot about safety when it comes to sex. You want to feel safe, so you’re not going to be shamed. I wanted to feel my ‘performance’ wouldn’t be shamed,” he explains.

Listen to the short interview here where Davis talks about his love of football at an early age, his fight with loving football and being gay, his need to perform and represent heterosexual hyper masculine behavior, even objectifying women, going to strip clubs, and having women draped all over his arms. 



“I wanted to make sure that in my toolbox there was nothing that could be seen as feminine, whether it was my style of dress, my speech. I wanted to make sure that it was masculine."

We want to thank Essence.com for their time with Wade Davis.  I think his voice is one we need to hear more. 

And what does he say consent is?

“Consent is the highest form of self-love.”


h/t:  essence.com

Every Thursday in the month of November, Esther Armah, The Spin and Emotional Justice — in collaboration with ESSENCE — bring you #theCONSENTconvo, an exploration of the complexities of consent in society through different lens, experiences and stories in an effort to normalize discussions about the term and dismantle rape culture. Join the conversation using the hashtag, #theCONSENTconvo.  

What do you think?