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Love And Basketball

NBA player Jason Collins has decided to come out of the closet and announce that he is gay, something he describes as mind-boggling and something he hopes will encourage other closeted homosexuals to follow his lead and be open and honest with the world.  He is the first active professional athlete to do this, making his actions into a milestone for the LGBT community.  He says he did not set out to be a trailblazer but he is happy to have started a new conversation about homosexuality in our country.  He has received a lot of support from fellow athletes and definitely has people talking.

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It’s bizarre that in 2013, homosexuality still is not accepted in this country.  We are split right down the middle when it comes to gay marriage, we still have people insisting that being gay is a choice and not something one is born as, and we still see people become extremely uncomfortable and sometimes filled with rage at the sight of two men holding hands or two women having a romantic dinner.  We see people become angry when a woman dates another woman who has a more masculine appearance, asking why she doesn’t just date a guy if she’s going to date a woman we think looks like a guy herself.  We chastise men for being “sissies,” mocking behavior we think is flamboyant.  For some reason, society cannot come together and simply accept that being gay doesn’t mean a person is flawed.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a thing of the past for our military, something my favorite soldier at work is quite happy about, but it doesn’t mean that his struggle is over.  He still gets ribbed by colleagues who think if he just found the right woman, he would be “fixed.”  He’s even had a heart to heart with me where he considered trying to date women so his life would be easier.  Male soldiers are supposed to be macho and tough, something that most people don’t generally associate with being gay.  It’s the same for professional male athletes; they are tough alpha males who score the hottest models and who can have their way with whatever woman they wish.  These tough guys shouldn’t be gay because homosexuality doesn’t fit our view of what an athlete should be.

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I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s not a big deal that Collins came out and that he should just shut up about it instead of being out there and trying to be some sort of hero.  I don’t see what he has done as an act of heroism though, I see it as no different from any public figure opening up about love or any other part of their personal life.  People like the Kardashians live their life like an open wound and it’s accepted, but a homosexual decides to be honest and that isn’t okay?  Collins isn’t dressing in rainbow-covered attire and dancing in the streets with men in speedos, he is simply making a personal statement and doing so in the hopes that his admission will move our society in a positive direction.  There is nothing to be upset about here.

Collins is right on the money by calling this mind-boggling.  As I write this, two of my coworkers are having a discussion about how this will negatively affect the team, the mood in the locker room, and the sport as a whole.  It’s mind-boggling that people still think that being a gay man means being sexually attracted to every single man they come across.  It’s mind-boggling that teammates could feel uncomfortable in a locker room with a gay man who has previously never done anything and probably will not do anything in the future to cause discomfort.  Sexual orientation is one piece among many that makes a person who they are.  It shouldn’t be the one defining piece and shouldn’t cause this much distress and outrage.

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I’ve been in a locker room with lesbians.  I’ve been in many restrooms in gay bars and clubs with lesbians.  I’ve been harassed and/or made to feel uncomfortable zero times.  The one time I’ve been harassed by a lesbian was while working at a shoe store.  There is no reason for alarm and no reason to think that a gay man can’t play a sport because his teammates won’t be able to handle the homosexual vibe in the locker room.  It’s not the gay person causing discomfort, it’s everyone else who won’t put aside their fears and who choose to focus on the fact that this man prefers the company of other men instead of women.  Yes, there are gay people out there who don’t know how to behave, but that can be said for straight folk as well.  The bad behavior of a few does not define everyone.

We need to treat the admission by Collins properly, which is to treat is as no big deal.  He took a step out of the shadows in order to grow as a person and to be happy.  He started a conversation that should be ended with acceptance and love.  His actions will hopefully show others that being gay isn’t something to be ashamed of and isn’t something people should be fearful of.  We need to rid ourselves of the stereotypical image of what a gay man or woman should be and accept the fact that gay people come in as wide a variety as straight people do.  We are way overdue to drop this terrible attitude towards the LGBT community.  None of us have the right to stand in the way of anyone’s happiness.  If someone’s happiness comes from loving the same gender, who are we to oppose?

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on April 30, 2013, in Love, News, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. The best definition of homophobia I’ve ever read was “The fear that other men will treat you the way you treat women.” and it’s pretty much perfectly applicable every time this kind of situation comes up.

    And this specific situation really is no big deal, he’s hardly the first athlete to “come out” (just the first in the NBA, this year). Last year we had Seimone Augustus make public that she’s a lesbian (Olympic gold medalist and WNBA player), but I guess that doesn’t count because she isn’t a man. There is Orlando Cruz in Boxing, Wade Davis in football, Megan Rapinoe in Soccer and countless others.

    Your coworkers are idiots. There is no way his team mates were unaware.

  2. ” I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s not a big deal that Collins came out and that he should just shut up about it instead of being out there and trying to be some sort of hero. I don’t see what he has done as an act of heroism though, I see it as no different from any public figure opening up about love or any other part of their personal life.”

    And he’s not a hero but the media and social media want everyone to think he is. I don’t care about anyones sex lifestyle choices so being gay doesn’t make someone special or newsworthy. He’s far from the first person who is or was a professional athlete and open about it. He’s simply the first large black man telling sports illustrated he’s gay. Ha. Media sensationalism is annoying those of us who don’t care and making us comment about something we otherwise wouldn’t be.

    So negative or positive comments it’s got people talking ….but who actually gives a fuck?

    • I’m glad he did it and I’m glad people are talking, but from the little bits I’ve heard today, people are already going in the wrong direction with this whole thing. It’s embarrassing how homophobic people are.
      I find it newsworthy but I don’t think it should be a long term focus.

      • I kinda have to agree with jahwoo on this. Who cares what his sexual preference is? He’s famous because he’s a pro bball player. Shouldn’t that be what keeps him in the news?

        • It’s just another step along the road to equality. I wish that this didn’t have to be newsworthy, but it does because this society is still so unaccepting of different lifestyles. I’m hoping that his coming out makes us focus on the simple fact that anyone from any walk of life can be homosexual and we need to accept it and move forward.

          • Maybe our perspectives are different but I don’t see our society as “unaccepting of different lifestyles” today. In fact, I would say it’s the opposite. We are bombarded with acceptance of different lifestyles daily. I challenge anyone to look at the primetime lineup on TV and find a program that DOESN’T have a gay character or storyline subplot. It’s practically a requirement now. Every time a famous person comes out of the closet we’re treated to a front row seat for the details. It’s now permissible in the US Military to be openly homosexual.

            I’m failing to see where it is that we are still intolerant as a society.

            As you said, we need to accept it and move forward. I figure the best way to do that, is to ignore news stories about people who happen to be gay.

            My response is: “Who cares?”

            • I guess I just see a different world. I had boyfriends break up with me (in high school in Georgia) because they couldn’t deal with the ridicule from others that came with being in an interracial relationship. A couple of weeks ago, an office baby shower was canceled because people didn’t want to participate because the father is black and the mother is white. My gay friend gets constant criticism and is often pushed to try women because dating men “isn’t right.” Even with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he’s still not comfortable and accepted. Gay marriage is still illegal. People with tattoos or pink hair are “punks” or criminals. Even with everything we get in the media that suggests we are tolerant, people still are not. The same people who obsess over Kim Kardashian’s love life get annoyed when a private person comes out of the closet simply as a way to be honest and move on with their lives, free of speculation. I don’t understand how people can go crazy about knowing every single detail about someone’s love life when they’re straight, but go crazy and demand silence when someone comes out as gay. I don’t understand why a gay man/woman has to fit a certain standard in order to be acceptable. Gay can’t be all right only if it fits certain guidelines.
              If more people had the “who cares” attitude, we’d be all right. But it’s not so; I listened to some crazy conversations about Collins and how horrible it is that he is gay. The same people who start the conversation with “who cares” go on to obsess over it and turn it into something it shouldn’t have to be. The buzz has mostly died down at this point, but I’m still hearing little quips about why it’s not okay and why Collins should not have made the announcement. Those quips wouldn’t be said if he had announced a marriage, a baby, or something else that is normal to the average person. And if I’m hearing this stuff at work, where people are on their best behavior, I can only imagine what is said outside of this building. I honestly didn’t find this blogworthy until a few people I talk to on Twitter and my coworkers started going postal about the whole thing.

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  4. Call me when Chris Bosh finally admits to being gay.

  5. I can’t see anything wrong with being gay. Wrong actions are those that harm ourselves and others, and gay sexuality is in that respect ethically neutral. People who are offended by the existence of gays have probably learned conceptually that it is in some sense incompatible with another system of beliefs to which they are subscribers. I believe that there is another class of men who fear certain aspects of their own sexuality, so make a big fuss about what others do, in order to contain their own feelings more comfortably.

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