David Marquete "Dave" Kopay, football running back who became the "first professional sport athlete to declare his homosexuality" when he came out as gay in 1975
This article written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson, freelance biographer. This article is locked, you may comment on it by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Kopay was born 28 Jun 1942 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, the second of four children to Anton Kopay and his wife Marguerite Hahn. Dave's elder brother was named Tony. Anton and Marguerite were strict Roman Catholics. Anton born about 1904/5 to Croatian parents grew up in Cherry, Illinois, the family name was originally Kopaytich. Anton had a hard childhood, his step-father made him drop out of school after sixth grade to work in the mines, and then took all the money he made away from him. When he was 18, Anton went into the Marines. In later life, Anton was mostly estranged from his siblings. Anton's mother born Frances Potick, is buried at St Mary's Cemetery in Chicago. Marguerite Hahn was the second of eight children and was nine years younger than Anton when they married when Anton was age 32, so about 1936/8. Marguerite's father was German and her mother was Irish.When David was in the fourth grade, the family moved to North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. He went to the University of Washington in 1961 where his older brother Tony was a member of the football team, and where he played as a running back. In 1963 he went with the Huskies to the Rose Bowl.
|David Kopay was first drafted by the San Francisco '49ers in 1964, that year becoming their leading rusher. He was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1968, then to the Washington Redskins in 1969, the New Orleans Saints in 1971 and finally to the Green Bay Packers in 1973. "Kopay ... retiring in 1972 after a productive nine-year pro career. His private affairs were known to few." He came out as gay in 1975 in an interview with Washington Star reporter Lynn Rosellini, three years after the end of his nine-year professional football career.
In 1969 and 1970 he had a friendship and a one-night stand with his Redskins teammate, All-pro tight-end Jerry Smith who died of AIDS in 1986. When Kopay with writer Perry Deane Young wrote his autobiography, he used a pseudonym for Jerry Smith calling him "Bill Stiles". In 1971 he married briefly at the suggestion of a therapist, but the marriage lasted about a year.When Dave Kopay came out, his older brother Tony was being considered for the head-coaching job at Oregon State. Tony insisted that he was passed over due to Dave's interview, although Tony did get an assistant coach position.
|In a 2000 interview, reporter Dan Raley stated that : "Kopay often travels around the country, fulfilling speaking engagements." In an interview in 2002 Dave stated that he had been working for 20 years for Linoleum City, a company in Los Angeles that his uncle owned, as a buyer for movie studios. At the bottom of that interview is an email address for him, but my message to that address in 2008 bounced as "user unknown". In Sep 2007, he pledged a one million dollar gift to the University of Washington's glbtq center, calling this amount "about half of my estate."|
- The David Kopay Story: An extraordinary self-revelation, by David Kopay and Perry Deane Young; Arbor House, New York. 1977
- 1920 Census of Bennington, Marshall County, Illinois : "Matthew Bubier, 30 b Croatia/Croatia/Croatia; Frances wife 43 b Croatia/Croatia/Croatia; Lewis Kopaytich 15 stepson; Tony Kopaytich 14 stepson, b IL/Croatia/Croatia; Mary Kopaytich 13; Steve Kopaytich 11; Peter Kopaytich 10; Maggie Kopaytich 4 2/12; Anna Kopaytich 2"
- 1930 Census of United States Marine Camp, Paris Island, Beaufort, South Carolina : "Anton M Kopay, 25, Single, b IL/Turkey/Austria
- 'US Marine Corps Muster Rolls' showing Anton M Kopay, private, corporal and sergeant
- Social Security Death Index : "Anton M Kopay, born 17 Sep 1905, died 19 Oct 1990, last residence Hailey, Blaine County, Idaho"
- California Marriage Index : "Gary F Kopay to Charla L Donohue 8 Aug 1969 Santa Barbara County; Marguerite D Kopay to Leon D Geoghegan 17 Aug 1968 Los Angeles City; Anthony J Kopay to Maryon E Vusich 2 Jul 1966 Los Angeles City"
- Nevada Marriage Index : "David M Kopay to Sara Lee Dornacker 19 Jun 1971"
- California Death Index : "Louis Kopay, born 17 Jun 1904 Illinois, died 19 Dec 1989 Riverside County, mother's maiden name Potick"
- "Kopay: Apologizes to Aikman", 18 Dec 1998. At the end of this interview he states : "My address is 4455 Los Feliz Boulevard, Unit 907, Los Angeles 90027"
- "Still waiting for a hero", 15 Jan 1999, by Greg Garber, Special to ESPN.com
- "Twenty-five years after disclosing he was gay, Dave Kopay remains a pioneer", by Dan Raley, 5 Dec 2000, for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- "Dave Kopay: Still Going Strong — The Former NFL Player Remains an Outspoken Advocate for Gay Rights", by Jim Buzinski on Outsports.com, 3 Sept 2002
- "David Kopay" article on glbtq.com
- Video Interview with David Kopay, 24 Feb 2007, posted on YouTube
- "UW ex-player's pledge is more than a cash figure", by Jerry Brewer, 6 Sep 2007 for the Seattle Times