At last, one day over drinks, Jack looks his buddy in the eye and asks, "Emile, are you a homosexual?"
"What do you think?" asks Emile.
"I don't think so," says Jack.
"That's all that matters," says Emile.
At the wake, after Jack dies, Emile pulls him out of his coffin to hug him and sob on his chest.
It's 1992. A 265-pound NFL offensive lineman named Roy Simmons discloses that he's gay, 17 years after running back Dave Kopay did. But both men, of course, have waited until they're safely retired. "It will take someone extremely talented and famous to come out while he's still playing in one of the major sports," says Charles Kaiser, author of The Gay Metropolis. "It'll happen. But until there's someone who's both good enough and has the fortitude to take all the abuse, we won't have our Jackie Robinson."
It's a summer evening. Emile gets off an airplane at JFK. He should be exhausted. He should go straight to his mother's house in Queens Village, where he's moved back into the finished basement along with Luis. He has just flown back from Australia, where the boxer he trains, junior welterweight Juan LaPorte, has lost to Kostya Tszyu. Emile takes a cab to Manhattan.
He ends up in Hombre, a gay bar on West 41st Street hard by the Port Authority. He can relax more in gay bars than in straight ones, he tells people, because the people there are far less likely to challenge him to a fight. But suddenly he feels so woozy that he wonders if someone put something in his drink. He steps outside. Here comes the smoke.
A gang of men jumps him, beats him with pipes, robs him and leaves him for dead on the street. Later he staggers onto the wrong train, but finally, after hours have passed, he stumbles home. That's what Emile tells LaPorte, who comes to the Griffith home at the request of Emile's frightened mother and takes him to the hospital.