From Beyoncé to the Texans, this gay teen knows his sports

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Jeremy Brener can’t remember a time when sports weren’t a big part of his life. 

“My dad was a big multi-sport athlete, and although I was never as great an athlete as him, I’ve always been intrigued by competition,” he says. “I’m one of the most competitive people I know, and sports is a great outlet to express that part of myself.”

In the past year, Brener has further expressed himself as a blogger for Outsports, an online site about LGBT issues and personalities in amateur and professional sports. More significantly, the gay Houston teen is still in high school. 

Swinging from topics like “It was cool that Brandon Marshall let Stephen Colbert paint his fingernails” to “The 15 best moments from the 2015 NFL season,” his posts for Outsports reveal an appealing balance of insight and sass that could likely lead to a bright future in the media.  

Adding a bit of political gravitas to that sass, Brener praises Texans owner Bob McNair’s for his “take-back” of his controversial $10,000 contribution to last year’s ant-HERO campaign. 

“I think he figured out where his money was exactly going and he didn’t want his money to promote inequality,” he says. “Mr. McNair is a great person and he brought the NFL back to Houston, so he really cares for my hometown, and he doesn’t want anyone to feel unsafe in Houston.”

Prior to the Super Bowl 50 match-up on Sunday between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, Brener shared his thoughts about breaking stereotypes, his pick to win the Big Game and even a few words about Beyoncé.

How did the Outsports gig come about?

Outsports has been very open and has given me an opportunity so much more than I could have ever asked for. I started out doing it as a senior project, writing personal stories about myself as well as NFL-related stories, and it has morphed more into NFL-based content simply because I have been crunched for time, but I’m hoping I can run some more personal-based content in 2016.

What inspired you to start writing a sports blog as an openly gay writer? How has the reception been?

I have been told I am a good writer by some of my teachers, and I do enjoy talking to myself in the shower about football, so writing for a sports blog has been a perfect way to bring the two together. I think the reception has been very solid because I see myself as a writer before I see myself as an openly gay writer. I am committed to the content, but I think being an openly gay sports writer is nice because it is unexpected. I love surprising people and breaking stereotypes and being an openly gay sports writer allows me to do that.

Do you consider yourself a jock? 

I think there are parts of me that fit the stereotype of a jock, but I don’t think my whole personality fits inside the box and the checklist of a jock. There are parts of my personality that don’t fit that stereotype and I try not to stereotype others because stereotyping equals assuming, and we know what assuming does.

What has been the reaction from your fellow high school students for being gay and writing for Outsports? Any blowback?

I’ll be honest — not everyone had my back.  Some of the people I used to count on weren’t there for me when I needed it most. However, being gay has made me a stronger person and it has allowed me to face adversity, and I think I am a better person for being gay.

Are you mostly NFL-centric? Will you write about other sports for Outsports after the Super Bowl?

To be honest, I started following the NBA before anything. I remember Ben Wallace’s Pistons as one of the best teams from growing up. The Astros were really good when I started following them, and I actually went to Game 3 of the World Series. I didn’t start following the NFL and the Texans until I was about 11 or 12. When J.J. Watt came to town is when I really started putting a lot of focus on the Texans, and when football season is around, it’s really the main thing I follow. The NFL season is so fun to follow because it’s like a story more than anything. The other seasons are too long to follow religiously. The NFL season is one giant show with 32 teams or characters, all with their unique storylines. It’s fascinating. [And Brener is a big fan of Watt. Really.]

I also have been running a March Madness pool for the past few years, and it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Maybe I’ll write about that, but I’m just going to have fun with it. Sports are a great way to get inspired, and writing about it is fun.

What are your plans for college?

I’m looking at a few in-state colleges and the University of Central Florida in Orlando. I’m just glad I have several opportunities and options in front of me.

Here’s the obvious question: Who is your pick to win Super Bowl 50? 

I think it will be a closer game than most people expect, but I think the Panthers will win. The Broncos have a great defense, and it has been their bread and butter this season, but the Panthers are a more complete team, which is what you need in a Super Bowl winner. I don’t have any specific rooting interest; I’ll be happy for either team if they were to win. I’m just hoping that it’s an entertaining game.

Speaking of entertainment, what do you think about Coldplay and Beyoncé being picked for the Super Bowl half time show?

I was probably the only one of my friends who was excited to find out that Coldplay was the headline act. A lot of people feel that they aren’t like a party act, which is what the Super Bowl halftime show should be, but I think Beyoncé will elevate the party. I’m excited.

Describe your ideal Super Bowl half time show.

If OneRepublic would do a show with Sam Smith, I’d be a happy guy. Adele would be nice, but she would have to be a soloist, and her voice by herself is so powerful that she doesn’t need another sound accompanying her, even if it is as amazing as Sam Smith’s or OneRepublic’s. So OneRepublic and Sam Smith for SB51, and Adele for SB52 would be outstanding.

Assuming you would have loved to see the Texans go to the Super Bowl, which team would you liked them to play?

Cowboys, because we probably would win. And because we’d see Dallas lose, but I think the NFC has had superior play this season. All six playoff teams had great seasons, and they were all just great to watch.

Any prognostications about the Texans’ 2016 season?

I hope the defense can pick up where they left off, and I hope we can get some consistent quarterback play. I don’t care who the QB is — just play well.

Professional sports organizations are becoming more welcoming of women to coaching and administrative rosters, thankfully. But what do you think it will take for pro sports teams to become more inclusive of LGBT players?

I think once there are a few out people in the league, it will become more inclusive. I think pro sports leagues have gone leaps and bounds from where they were at the beginning of the decade, but visibility is the best way to express inclusivity.

Follow Brener on Twitter.

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