Thursday, February 8, 2007

John Amaechi is ####

More interesting news in the sports world and masculinity--a former NBA player recently came out as gay. In response to the announcement by John Amaechi, LZ Granderson at wrote the most absurd and ridiculous editorial that I think I've ever read. He actually compares his plight as an out gay sportswriter to an out gay athlete, and tells the closeted gay athletes to "man up."

And don't hand me the it's-harder-in-sports crap, either. I've been an out sportswriter for years now. I've been on TV, had my face in one of the largest newspapers in the country and my mug is sitting right next to this column. I've
been called names in work meetings, received death threats and told I was going
to hell more times than the devil. But you know what, I don't give a rip. Because at the end of the day I know walking within what I know is true for me is a lot easier than trying to run from it.

I'm not entirely sure what to say to this, except: Am I the only person to think he's not exactly comparing Apples to Apples here? Let's see, a gay sports journalist is forced to operate in an ultra-masculine environment, but anytime a player insults him it could be printed in the mass media. Plus, you are relatively low-profile, and you don't have to spend all of your time in that environment. On the other hand, a player has to spend time in a locker room with an incredibly homophobic population and to face belittling and threats against them from their own coach (see Sloan, Jerry and Jackson, Phil and their use of homophobic slurs). Oh, and hundreds of death threats in every city you go to. Jackie Robinson might be a better comparison than a sports journalist. A gay sports player risks their career, life, and family by coming out. On the contrary, most people who read Granderson didn't even know he was gay until that editorial, and some of them still don't (see the paragraph about message boards for more on this).

While Granderson has a good point that coming out while you're still in the prime of your career would do more good, I'm not so sure he has the authority of experience to speak here and tell others what to do with their lives. When asked directly about it, most athletes know not to say anything too inflammatory when the spotlight is on them. However, we have video evidence about how most sports players really feel on this issue: check out this and this.

The most fascinating part is their message board, which I think is worth a read. But as someone pointed out, "gay" is blocked out on their message board, instead replaced with "####". Usually, this is to protect against the usage of the word as a slur (which I applaud), but in the context of this story, it's actually content. I'm actually starting to wonder if they block out Rudy Gay's last name as well. Here's a comment from the site that I think is worthwhile:

I think the fact that this board replaces the word g-a-y with #### says a lot about how society views homosexuals, [athlete] or not. The very same site that is running this article is also censoring the very word that is the subject of said article. This goes a long way twords explaining why so few athletes come out, even after they retire, and even fewer (none in recent memory) active athletes come out. The very word used to describe these people is "taboo" in our society. It's ok when it is in a sitcom, and it comes across as humerous, but as soon as a "role model" or "sports hero" comes out, the perception greatly changes. Parents no longer want their children to admire these people. Does it make them any less of a person, or any less of a superstar because of their sexual preferance? All of a sudden the guy won't be able to dunk anymore, because he is openly ####?

1 comment:

Naomi said...

Don't you hate that? Here's another weird coworkers and I were discussing the new(ish) show Ugly Betty several weeks ago. One of them said that she "didn't think it was right" for them to have the younger brother character be gay, especially considering his young age. I was confused and pointed out that they never said that he was gay, and she replied that he acted gay, which is much worse. (His character shows interest in the fashion world and the magazine Betty works for.) She actually forbid her 14-year old son to watch the show as a result. I had absolutely no way to respond to that...