Trust me, without a shadow of a doubt, there have already been a ton of gay dudes in professional sports. But none of them were openly homosexual while playing, and it’s very clear why.
With the news of Sports Illustrated’s piece on Jason Collins, now the NBA’s first “active” gay player, America has been in a Civil Rights Tizzy, the likes of which reporters are comparing to Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Martina Navratilova (she compared Collins to herself, but I’ll allow it) while others described this act more akin to running a four minute mile or being a scumbag.
Indeed, homosexuality within the context of sport is now a hot-button issue. Nearly every person with a Twitter account has weighed in on the subject. And tons of NBA stars have lent their voice to the conversation. Some players even having hauntingly similar opinions.
It seems like the one lone defector, ESPN’s Chris Broussard, was hung up on Leviticus 18. The book of Leviticus states a whole bunch of shitty rules we’re supposed to follow. Frankly, if anyone can follow all those, DAMN, more power to ya!
Us here in the real world, however, can never achieve that sort of nirvana and understanding. Broussard’s ESPN nemesis LZ Granderson made a great counterpoint to Broussard’s monologue about following the doctrine of God. How was he to avoid pre-marital sex, if he did not have the inalienable right to get married?
The obvious answer is abstinence. But if you’re not allowed to fuck until you “put a ring on it,” yet, you’re not allowed to put said ring on said it–so to speak–then that would effectively outlaw being gay, which is what many people in America feel is in concordance with Leviticus 18.
But the question remains, Why is this such a big deal? It’s because for generations, hundreds of years even, males have renounced any sort of gay culture in athletics.
Hell, Kobe, who is famous for calling a referee a gay slur, is the same guy who has gone on to renounce such acts in the span of a year or less. Don’t mind Steve Kerr, and I believe, Marv Albert doing the announcing and play-by-play in this clip. Of course Kobe’s apologized, and of course NBA players tweet PR messages of support that they don’t even write, but that really does nothing to change the homophobic culture of male sports.
This culture is deeply ingrained in male athletes. Recently, Deadspin re-ran a previous piece by Peter Richmond about Los Angeles Dodgers longtime Manager Tommy LaSorda’s gay son Tommy Jr. and how Sr. continually denied his son’s homosexuality or his cause of death. Sr. does, however, mention in the article how he expected Magic Johnson to play again, even after admitting his HIV positive status (a quite fortuitous proclamation in hindsight). Later on in the piece, Richmond asks what Sr. thinks now of Magic’s support for his gay son, an interesting quandary. For most straight Stone-Agers, it’s just hard to except. I dated a girl whose grandfather was a fighter pilot in WWII before coming home to lose his wife and re-marry a dude…
That shit happens. Even for teens nowadays.
In my small school, we infamously had one, and only one, male cheerleader…ever. Everyone just assumed he was gay, but he played it off like he wasn’t. His younger brother was a skater and could definitely shred. The two were polar opposites, but both were cool to hang out with. As my friends and I graduated, one of my best friends started boning one of the cheerleader guy’s best chick friends, and eventually, our big group of friends all started partying and doing drunken back flips together. In his early twenties, he finally came out. Now, he has AIDS.
That shit happens.
Fear can make the manliest of men do some pretty crazy things, just to cover up deep seated emotions or momentarily suspend disbelief.
The fact remains that, given scientific data on the gay population, tons of homosexuals have taken part in pro sports. It’s just that most of them have done it in anonymity, and cases like Matthew Shepard’s (which Collins honored by wearing the number 98) and others like it are easy reasons why.
So, congrats to Jason Collins for having the courage to come out in a brutally straight environment.