Hendrix is one of an extremely small number of openly gay athletes on the college or pro level. He didn't come out just now; there was an article at OutSports.com last December, and Hendrix hasn't hid his sexual orientation since midway through high school.
Though accepting of him, his parents were fearful of how their community would treat their only son. Their hometown of Sylvania, Ohio, is small, less than 20,000 people, and word of mouth travels fast.. Actually, no, no it doesn't. You know why? Because I live in Sylvania. Less than half a mile away from the high school Hendrix ran for. While I don't personally know the kid, I know his coaches and a lot of people who train with him. I never knew this about Hendrix.
Sylvania is not a small town. It once was, and where I live is a vestige of that, but it's a sprawling new-money suburb of decidedly blue-collar Toledo.
Interestingly enough, the only current or former NBA player who is out of the closet is John Amaechi. He's quoted in the story. Amaechi also went to high school in Toledo.
Considering the extremely small number of openly gay college and professional athletes, this might be more than a coincidence.
Unless you're from the Rust Belt, you probably don't understand. You'd think blue-collar cities wouldn't be accepting of people different in that way. I don't think it's any easier here than anywhere else, but there is a trump card. What we care about here more than anything is if you can get the job done.
Eastern Michigan is the blue-collar school down the street from the U of Michigan. It's where you go if you can't afford Ann Arbor. And what did his teammates say? More or less, you get the job done and that's what matters to us.