Irvin admits that his motive for appear for this cause is his relationship with his gay brother Vaughn, who died of stomach cancer in 2006. In the article, Irvin talks about how his brother’s sexual orientation contributed to some of his own off-the-field problems.
He discovered his brother’ was gay sometime in the 1970’s when he saw him wearing women’s clothing and Irvin admits he did not handle the situation well.
“And through it all we realized maybe some of the issues I’ve had with so many women, just bringing women around so everybody can see, maybe that’s the residual of the fear I had that if my brother is wearing ladies’ clothes, am I going to be doing that? Is it genetic?” Irvin said to Out. “I’m certainly not making excuses for my bad decisions. But I had to dive inside of me to find out why am I making these decisions, and that came up.”
Irvin says his father Walter taught him a more tolerant form of Christianity by accepting his his gay son and Irvin feels it is important for the Afican-American community to embrace marriage equality.
“I don’t see how any African-American, with any inkling of history, can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life,” he said, according to the magazine. “No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality, and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”
Irvin says that he believes this work matters more than his football career and would embrace any athlete who chose to come out. He thinks the team that won three Super Bowls could have integrated an openly gay teammate as well as any team. “We had a bunch of different characters on that team,” Irvin said. “Deoin [Sanders] and Emmitt [Smith]. I believe that team would have handled it well.”