One was the macho football player with a secret gay sex life; the other was a writer who had announced his homosexuality in a letter to his mother published in Ms. magazine. But two years ago, when NFL veteran David Kopay and reporter Perry Deane Young met, they began a literary collaboration that led to a best-selling book about homosexuality in sports and America. Now the two Washington-based men are beginning a sequel to The David Kopay Story , partly a journal of the response their book received in a year in which the issue of gay rights became a national debate.
"We left out a lot of humor in the first book because we wanted to be taken very seriously," says Young, who first learned of Kopay when the football player -- reading a series on gays in sports in the Washington Star -- called the paper and went public with his story.
"Kopay said in the newspaper that he'd had trouble explaining things to his mother," recalls Young, 36, whose own mother replied this way when she learned of her son's sexual preference: "Having loved you since before you were born, I cannot love you less now. Come out of the shadows of guilt and live your life in the sunshine."
Young sent Kopay copies of the letters he'd exchanged with his mother. The football player called the writer and the two met. Later they received a $35,000 hardback advance for their frank book, and today they live together (though they are not lovers) and share their new financial success 50-50.
"I read an article the other day in which the writer talked about a best-selling author and a millionaire as if they were interchangeable," says Young. "Listen, we received a $75,000 paperback advance, another $15,000 for letting them publish it so soon after the hardback success, and a $10,000 bonus for making the bestseller list. Half of that goes to the hardback house, Arbor. The agent gets ten percent. That leaves $45,000, split two ways and payable over two and a half years. Which comes to about $7,000 a year each."
Besides work on the new book, Young has compiled a paperback, The Gospel According to Anita Bryant , that started out as a quick compilation of her quotations but became a more serious project as he progressed: "It's my feeling that if you just give her enough room, the lady is the best thing that happened to homosexual rights in America."
Young, who hails from Asheville, North Carolina, Billy Graham's hometown, sometimes receives notes from the evangelist offering to discuss his sexual politics over coffee, but Young is content.
"Washington is a very congenial place to live," says Young. "People leave me alone here and the fact that since 1973 there have been laws against discrimination against gays has been a very important reason, subconsciously, I'm sure, that I live here."