Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Homosexuality and Sports

Jason Collins is gay.  No matter what talk radio station I turn to, that is all people are talking about.  Collins is the first male American professional athlete in one of the major sports to come out while he is still an active player.  All of those adjectives are key in the description.  Tennis, swimming, figure skating and golf are all sports with male professional athletes but if one of their players came out it would be reported on the back page of the sports section.  It would be a non-story after 24 hours.  Athletes coming out after retirement from one of the big 4 (football, basketball, baseball and hockey) is nothing new.  Female athletes coming out while they are still playing?  It's been happening for years and it rarely gets a reaction. So my excitement over his coming out has been squashed by all the ignorant comments that I've heard for the past 2 days. 

The two most common arguments:

Gay people should have separate locker rooms.  If I were playing sports and one of my teammates were gay I wouldn't feel comfortable changing next to him. 

So apparently gay men are all sex fiends.  They can't stand near someone of the sex they are attracted to without wanting to have sex with him.  And of course all people of the sex they are attracted to are attractive to them.  I have never been a man but I have changed and/or gone to the bathroom in front of plenty of men and gay women over the years and, in doing so, been partially or completely undressed in front of them.  At no point did I have to fight someone off because they were so overcome by the sight of my partially naked body that they had to jump on me.  

To play the other side of this argument.  What if someone was attracted to you?  Does that mean they would act on it?  Do people typically physically assault every person they have a crush on?  More often than not, you hide your feelings from the person you are lusting after and go out of your way to seem like you are not attracted to them.  I have had men and women grab my ass or make inappropriate comments to me while I was walking down the street or into a bar.  I wouldn't advocate for all people who may be attracted to me to be banned from public places because they incidents are the exception and not the rule.  I have been well over 100 situations where something like this could have occurred; I can count all the incidents on one hand. 

There is nothing courageous about what he did.  It's not like he's a superstar.  If Kobe Bryant came out that would be brave.  That would be a story.  

Your accountant coming out is not a big deal to the general public. For the most part, kids aren't watching your accountant on TV.  Your accountant doesn't regularly bump elbows with some of the richest, famous and most talented people on the planet. Your accountant would still be brave if he came out within his co-workers and circle of friends but it wouldn't be national news. 

A 12 year old boy who knows he is gay but is afraid to come out because he doesn't want someone to call him a sissy may not have known who Jason Collins was yesterday but today he is his biggest fan.  Because he sees someone who shares his sexuality but doesn't act like the over the top, gay stereotype that is so often portrayed on American television (think the New Normal, Glee, Rupaul, etc). He sees another option.  He sees that he can be gay and still be masculine and not the but of a joke.  And he sees those guys that are superstars playing next to this guy and not blinking an eye.   

Collins pointed this out in one of his interviews.  He made a point to mention that he is not an effeminate gay man.  Many gay listeners called in and criticized him for this.  These people need to face the fact that people who's inner circle doesn't include gay people think of all gay men as the overly effeminate lisping stereotype and all gay women as  the manly, unattractive man-hating stereotype.  It is important for people to realize that gay people come in all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities just like the rest of us. Yes, sometimes you can look at a person and guess that they are gay.  But a lot of the time you can't.  And there are a lot of effeminate straight men out there screwing with this stereotype.  

I am black and my husband is white.  There are a lot of people who don't approve of our relationship.  Many of these people are very vocal about their disapproval of our relationship.  30 years ago there were laws that supported people's rights to discriminate against us and, in some cases, arrest us for being married.  Unfortunately there are still many people who feel this way.  There are still towns with segregated proms and neighborhoods.  But they are the exception, not the rule. 

I hope that we are saying the same things about gay rights a few years from now.  That when a so called religious person compares homosexuality to bestiality, pedophilia and polygamy people look at those people as crazy.  That those people no longer get to be part of the mainstream.  That their hate is limited to the cult that they represent.    That those people are on the fringe with the rest of the bigots and the rest of us are allowed to live our lives with the same rights and freedoms as every other American citizen.