Coming out is a relief and revelation for sports broadcaster Steve Mason

Steve Mason is one of the most respected sports broadcasters in Southern California. He’s best known as a co-host of the long-running “Mason & Ireland” show on ESPN 710, which has been atop the local radio sports talk ratings for more than a decade. He also a regular contributor to KTTV’s “Good Day LA” program.

On his radio show, Mason and partner John Ireland, delve into the usual topics – the Dodgers and Lakers, USC and UCLA sports and the return of the NFL to Los Angeles. But their conversations frequently veer into politics and social issues as well, with discussions on the presidential contest, racism and homosexuality in sports.

For years, Mason kept his own homosexuality a secret, at least from his radio and TV audiences. He did so mostly out of concern that disclosing his sexual identity could hurt his career. The sports world remains a place where openly gay lifestyles are not automatically embraced.

A few weeks ago, Mason decided it was time to come out to his audience. “It felt like this was the time for me to be able to fully express my whole self on the air,” says Mason.

“I’m not the gay guy who does sports, I’m the sports guy who happens to be gay,” he says. He says he used to have to self-censor during daily broadcast banter about family and personal life and now he doesn’t. “I was always afraid that in some way it would come out and I would not have control of it as a story,” he says. “Now there’s a big weight off of my shoulders.”