Seth Dunlap to LGBTQ+ Community: “Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Out”


One day after announcing that he is taking a leave of absence from his job at WWL Radio, “The Last Lap” host Seth Dunlap had some words of encouragement to those in the LGBTQ+ community, as part of an official statement issued through his attorney, Megan Keifer.

Dunlap’s leave of absence and statement come as a result of a homophobic tweet sent by someone using the WWL Radio official Twitter account. Earlier this month, Dunlap had written an open letter to Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees regarding his long association with the group Focus On The Family (FoF), whose anti-LGBTQ activities are well-reported.

After Monday night’s Saints win against the Houston Texans, Dunlap posted a link via Twitter asking readers what they felt the top five fan overreactions were during the game. That is when someone used the station’s official Twitter account to respond using a homophobic slur directed at Dunlap, saying “That you’re a f–”

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The tweet was quickly removed, but not before screenshots had already begun circulating on social media.

Dunlap addressed the tweet in today’s statement, saying:

“I truly believe this targeted attack was, in part, the result of deteriorating civil discourse in our country. Powerful men and women have decided to make hate, bigotry, and divisiveness platforms for their advancement in public life. It’s apparent that far too many people have forgotten the ugly lessons of the past, and this growing divide threatens to shatter the very foundations of an equal and welcoming society.”

He also addressed local media, asking that those covering and following the story make the focus to the impact such actions have on the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the challenges faced by that community.

“There are too many spaces and workplaces where overt hate and bigotry are not only tolerated, but actively promoted. Because queer people fear for their job security, as well as retaliation from those in positions of power, these incidents almost always go unreported or are swept under the rug. This is unnacceptable.”

In his previous letter, Dunlap described several such incidents throughout his career, including one that happened only last year. According to Dunlap, his then-general manager at WWL Radio asked people he worked with why he, an openly gay man, was being allowed to cover the Saints, saying that it “would make players uncomfortable.” According to Dunlap, at the time, he briefly considered leaving the sports media industry then but was convinced to stay by close friends in the local media.

According to a 2017 Harvard University Study, at least one in five LGBTQ people report being personally discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity when applying for jobs, when being paid equally or considered for promotion, or when trying to rent or buy a home. These numbers are doubled for LGBTQ people of color when applying for jobs, and LGBTQ people of color are six times more likely to avoid calling the police due to concern for anti-LGBTQ discrimination compared to white LGBTQ people. Overall, 90 percent of LGBTQ people believe discrimination is a common issue faced by their community in the U.S. today.

Dunlap urged members of the community to speak out when they face discrimination or hate.

To all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people out there, especially our youth, please do not be afraid to speak out when you are subjected to hate or bigoted attacks. Know that you are supported and loved by so many people, and that only by using your voice to speak out will change happen. That change is always incremental and tediously slow, but it will happen. Do not lose hope.

“I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from across the world this week. I plan on continuing to be the best person I can be, and using my platform to speak out against injustice wherever and whenever I see it.”

Dunlap’s lawyer, Megan Keifer, also gave a statement, saying:

“Any one of us who identify as LGBTQ has been a victim of discrimination, in one way or another. When it happens, and it does happen, those wounds cut deep.  It can transport us to the darkness of being in the closet, of feeling wrong or like an “other”, or of being vilified in our youth.  For Seth, this unfortunately is unfolding on a national stage with him being victimized at his workplace for being the person who he is. The effects of this hate speech on Seth, both personally and professionally, will be long-lasting and drastic. As a community, we know hate and discrimination all too well, and we all need to resoundingly respond in protest whenever, wherever, and in whatever way one of us is victimized. For every drop of hate, however, there is sea of love. For every shameful tweet, there is one of support. Our community comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and spans every little pocket of this world. If you feel alone, you are not. Do not lose hope.”

You can read Dunlap’s full statement below:

Statement for Public Release from Seth Dunlap 

September 13, 2019 

Living as an openly gay man can be difficult. Living as an openly gay man in the Deep South is even more difficult. Living as an openly gay man in the Deep South with a career in sports broadcasting, a career field that is traditionally highly homophobic, is incomprehensibly challenging. While I had developed emotional armor throughout my life, that armor was shattered earlier this week when my sexuality became the focus of local and national news headlines as a result of a hateful and homophobic Twitter attack from the official Twitter account of my employer. 

I never wanted to be ‘That Gay Sportscaster.’ I’ve only ever wanted to be an exceptional sports broadcaster who happens to be gay. While I’ve been open about my sexuality in my personal life since my early-twenties, it’s not something that I discuss on the air, nor in my columns or blogs. The focus has always been on doing my job and doing it well. I feel like that focus has been unceremoniously ripped away from me. 

Many people had asked why I chose to take a leave of absence from my duties on-air, believing that I was ‘letting bigotry win.’ This isn’t about winning or losing to me. Rather, it is a painful step that I had to take to step away from a job that I love for my emotional and mental well-being. 

While I have suffered greatly, this attack was not just about me. While I may have been the one directly and publicly shamed with the use of an unacceptable slur disseminated on social media, the target was really the entire LGBTQ+ community. That community, my community, is subjected to that sort of vile language and hate on a daily basis. Look inside the comments, replies, or DM’s to any openly LGBTQ+ person and you’ll easily find similar disgusting, foul attacks. This incident just peeled back the curtain a bit for people to see the ugliness that surrounds us. 

I truly believe this targeted attack was, in part, the result of deteriorating civil discourse in our country. Powerful men and women have decided to make hate, bigotry, and divisiveness platforms for their advancement in public life. It’s apparent that far too many people have forgotten the ugly lessons of the past, and this growing divide threatens to shatter the very foundations of an equal and welcoming society. 

What happened on Twitter earlier this week is a symptom of that sickness. To my colleagues in the media and those covering or following this story, I ask that you turn the focus to the impact this has on, and the serious challenged facing, the LGBTQ+ community. There are too many spaces and workplaces where overt hate and bigotry are not only tolerated, but actively promoted. Because queer people fear for their job security, as well as retaliation from those in positions of power, these incidents almost always go unreported or are swept under the rug. This is unacceptable. 

To all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people out there, especially our youth, please do not be afraid to speak out when you are subjected to hate or bigoted attacks. Know that you are supported and loved by so many people, and that only by using your voice to speak out will change happen. That change is always incremental and tediously slow, but it will happen. Do not lose hope. 

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from all across the world this week. I plan on continuing to be the best person I can be, and using my platform to speak out against injustice wherever and whenever I see it. 

In the short term, I would ask that you respect my privacy and process, and direct your questions instead to my attorney, Megan C. Kiefer. 


Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

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