Time Wharp

That Time Robin Williams Became the Denver Broncos’ First Male Cheerleader

If you’re trans, there’s a good chance you have a complicated relationship with Robin Williams. The beloved comedian defined so many of our childhoods and kept us laughing throughout the 90s. That said, he also got a fair amount of those laughs at our expense. Even if Mrs. Doubtfire is a classic, it’s hard to square away the transmisogyny of that film. For many trans viewers, it’s an impossible watch: something that reminds us of just how normal and frequent it was to turn trans lives and concerns into a running joke for a cis audience totally comfortable with using us for comic fodder.

That said, Robin Williams still plays an important role in so many of our lives. He was someone who—believe it or not—thought deeply about gender politics, as well as sexual identity. In both The Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire, he wanted the work he did to encourage straight audiences to see beyond the harmful anti-gay stereotypes that was par for the course in the 80s and 90s. “If I can use my celebrity status to draw people into a movie theater to see me perform as an admirable gay man and thereby make them a little most positive about gay people,” he once said, “why wouldn’t I do it?”

But perhaps one of the sweetest, and most exciting, moments of Williams challenging tradition notions around masculinity was the time he served an incredible drag look, courtesy of the Denver Broncos.

On November 11, 1979, the “Mork and Mindy” star donned extremely cute Denver Broncos cheerleader regalia to root, root, root for the home team. It worked: the Broncos won the game 45 to 10.

Of course, there’s more to the story. Williams didn’t go as himself: he went in character as Mork. And as to whether he truly does hold the title of first male cheerleader in the NFL, there’s some contention there, especially since “Mork” was the one technically doing the cheerleading here.

There’s one thing we do know, however: Williams absolutely SLAYED in that outfit. He lived, he served c*nt, and he died, and we keep on missing him.

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