SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver is continuing his outreach to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community more than a year after his anti-gay remarks leading up to the Super Bowl.
The San Francisco Bay Times announced Thursday that Culliver conducted his first interview with an LGBT media outlet, sharing how he changed his thinking. Culliver, who missed the 2013 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee sustained during training camp, underwent sensitivity training and began doing other outreach work.
Culliver has worked with “The Trevor Project,” an organization that provides crisis and suicide intervention to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
“I truly appreciate the staff at the Trevor Project for allowing me to grow and educating me on the issues affecting the LGBTQ community,” Culliver said Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press. “I have learned so much and made some really great friends. I will continue my commitment to the organization and to their youths and stand firm with hope that one day that all individuals regardless of sex, race, or creed will be treated with dignity and respect from all.”
During Super Bowl media day in 2013 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Culliver responded to questions from comedian Artie Lange by saying he wouldn’t welcome a gay player in the locker room. He also said the 49ers didn’t have any homosexual players and, if they did, those players should leave. He later apologized, facing a large group of Super Bowl media members for nearly an hour.
“Chris has grown immensely from his words and has committed to continue to grow as a human, particularly around matters around the LGBTQ community,” his publicist, Theodore Palmer, said Thursday.
“He believes that every individual has a right to love the way they choose to love and celebrate the differences of others on a daily basis.”
In fact, Culliver told the Bay Times he hopes to work on a project with University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who would become the NFL’s first openly gay player. Culliver also applauded Nets center Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay NBA player last month.
“I applaud Michael and Jason for their courage,” Culliver told the Bay Times. “I have absolutely no problem playing and interacting with someone from the LGBTQ community and look forward to connecting with Michael soon on some projects.”
The 25-year-old Culliver, a third-round draft pick in 2011 out of South Carolina, made 47 tackles with two interceptions and a forced fumble during the 2012 season while starting six games for the Niners.
They lost in the Super Bowl that season to Baltimore.
The San Francisco Bay Times, in its 36th year of publication, defines itself as the oldest fully LGBT-owned and funded newspaper in the Bay Area.
It was the first newspaper in California, and among the first in the world, to be produced jointly and equally by gay men and lesbians.