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The Latest Gay Test Case

So, a lot is being made of Jason Collins Signing with the Brooklyn Nets to become the first ever openly gay athlete to participate in any of the "Big 4" team sports (NBA Basketball, MLB Baseball, NFL Football and NHL Hockey).

Of course a lot was made the other week when actress Ellen Page came out as gay.



There is an obvious element in these stories. The good thing, at least so far, the message has been positive in both cases. But of course, the world of sports is quite different than the world of Hollywood, and Ms. Page isn't the first to come out in that field. Far from it.

Is Jason Collins the first gay athlete? Obviously not. But to be the first to acknowledge that preference in an atmosphere of "being manly," and being on a team, and the classic issue: sharing lockers and showers? This is going to rub some people the wrong way.

The fact that we have to deal with this issue, now, in 2014, is proof that we are way behind schedule on our humanity. Where I am sure Ellen Page will have minimal, if any, negative effects on her career, Jason Collins is going to be a very special test case.

I really don't understand the overt hatred of homosexuals, just generally. Pretty much everybody knows someone who is, or has gay family members, or likes an actor, a performer, an author, a journalist or at least the work of homosexuals. The logic gap is, certainly in the 21st Century, incomprehensible.

But I know there's going to be reaction coming. Just as sure as Jackie Robinson got spat on in the batting circle in all those foreign stadiums he visited during his first year in the Major Leagues, Jason Collins is likely going to be hearing some nasty, thoughtless and cruel words from people who will say, shout and scream them just because they thought them.

I'd like to think I have faith in humanity, that maybe everything will go smoothly and that people will become more accepting of those who are different. But speaking as a person who is out on the front lines of "being different," I'm concerned. Yes, it's time for this to happen, but it also feels like people have gotten more conservative, less tolerant in the past several years. It might have been nice if this had happened while "Will & Grace" was still a ratings success, as an example.

But, looking at it all from a logical standpoint, it's stunningly weird that in a country where we prize, value and cherish freedom that people are still judging others in this manner. But, then again, people call President Obama the "N" word too. We still have a very long way to go.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
ravenfeather
Feb. 24th, 2014 12:33 am (UTC)
Yes, we DO have a long way to go.

I don't follow baseball, so I don't have a frame of reference, but I DO obsessively follow football, and in a similar vein, much attention is being paid to Michael Sam. He came out publicly BEFORE the draft, and now states that he wishes the focus was on football instead of his sexuality. That being said, he is the first openly gay football player in as you stated a "manly" sport.

I sometimes despair that we will EVER get past the racial and sexuality (and gender) barriers that hold us back from greatness as a species.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:13 am (UTC)
Michael Sam is another thing entirely... as football is a "full contact sport." But Sam hasn't been selected by any team yet, so there is a question about if he will be selected.

It's just my observation but people are becoming much more small minded than they were even 15 years ago and that's really disturbing. We were supposed to be getting smarter, more aware over time, not backslide into the swamps of stupidity.
crushdmb
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:24 am (UTC)
Sam is apparently one of the most promising young football stars in a long, long time. If he's not picked for a major team (and the fact that he's not been picked as first draft so far), it will be obvious why.

What does "full contact sport" have to do with it though? That's making me raise an eyebrow.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:30 am (UTC)
Of the big 4 Team sports, this one is one where bodies are expected to regularly touch as a matter of course. So, I'm sure there will be comments about that element when discussing Sam.
crushdmb
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
Possibly. At the same time, most of the football players are like "whatever" and many already knew he was gay. It's still just a very few ANONYMOUS voices who are against his being a player, but of course the big wigs don't always realize that.

I helped get DADT repealed.

Prop 8 in 2008 changed a lot.

It amazes me what has been accomplished in the last 5 years.

Over a 3rd of the country now allows gay marriage!

We're getting there. Slowly but surely. And not even that slowly, anymore.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC)
Props to you!

The worry for the big wigs is how will fans react, and all of that. It always comes back to money and image, which is why it all sucks.

But of course, this is just one of these social issues that is really just a thread of larger problems that haven't fully been addressed. The whole "religious" element to it has muddied everything, and so much more. While we might be making strides, there are others that want to stand right where they are or move backwards, and I don't know what we can do about that.
crushdmb
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:44 am (UTC)
The fans really don't give a shit. But the bigwigs are always behind the times. Always.

As someone who is in the very thick of it, I promise you that things are changing for the better.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/02/21/kansas_anti_gay_segregation_bill_was_the_discrimination_law_a_ploy_by_gov.html

It's not quite what it seems.

The GOP is SHOOTING THEMSELVES IN THE FOOT with this sort of anti-gay discrimination legislature. They are killing the ant-gay "movement". Killing it DEAD.

Even MORMONS are softening!
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
When I say the big wigs worry about how the fans react, I'm talking about people canceling their season tickets. People starting riots in the parking lot. People throwing objects... there's a lot of liability involved in this, when you have no idea how people will react. It's probably less true with NBA and perhaps more true with NFL fans, but again, we don't know.

While I agree that things are trending better, things were trending better when we got Barack Obama in the White House as another example, but it sure feels like a big backslide when it comes to how people are reacting to minorities of all sorts. I assure you, things do not feel safer for minorities in this country in the past couple of years, as they even had in 2009... and that's what I mean!

Maybe the trend is positive now, but who can say if there won't be some backlash to everything created by someone that wants the Status Quo to remain?
crushdmb
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC)
And, no, I don't think we are becomming smaller minded.

15 years ago Sims wouldn't have been able to come out at all.

Neither would Ellen Page.

The fact that both felt they COULD is huge.

Those naysayers are mostly just the outliers who haven't aligned themselves with the est of us. They are vocal but getting fewer and fewer.

Trust me. Things are changing.

I don't even see the "anti-gay, discrimination bill" here in AZ as 100% bad. It's obviously a few loud extremist politicians who are grasping at their last bigoted straws. And they basically shot themselves in the foot.

Everyone thinks the GOP who support such nonsense are crazy.

It's quite amusing to watch them squirm.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:35 am (UTC)
I guess the difference is the internet. 15 years ago, there were no huge social media sites where people could make anonymous (or in the stupider cases not anonymous) comments about people's races, sexual orientation, weight, or any other topic they want to use to put someone else down. So maybe people haven't gotten more small minded, but the small minded people have gotten automatically louder which is almost as bad.

There is a lot of squirming going on by everyone.
crushdmb
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC)
At the same time, if it weren't for the internet, this wouldn't be happening at ALL.

If you look at the timeline of marriage equality, for example, and when people started to really change their minds about that, it all started right when the internet did.

The internet was a game changer.

And the thing about those crazy voices? They aren't fooling anyone.

Essentially, the more they talk their crazy, the more people realize how crazy they really are.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
I'm not putting down the internet - quite the opposite, but the positives it has are also the negatives: helping like minded people connect!

But we'll see where it goes from here.
crushdmb
Feb. 24th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
Nowhere but up.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:52 am (UTC)
A different Ellen came out in 1997 - Ellen DeGeneres. And she really was something of a groundbreaker when she did. But, of course, it takes someone brave enough to make that stance and say it. Jodie Foster still isn't able to say it publicly, even though all of us know it. Queen Latifah, same thing.

It's still not easy to do. When it becomes easy, then things will have changed. We're still pretty far from that day, and I'm not certain about what it will take to get us to that day. The short answer is: a lot.
ravenfeather
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:13 am (UTC)
I have the same question on "full contact sport" as crushdmb . Football is a ... violent sport to be sure, but we regularly SEE players punching fists in the asses of downed players, stomping on the gentiles etc. I think that can be attributed more to aggression than homophobia, but it could very well be a combination of the two.

Like I said, I don't follow baseball, so I don't have an opinion on the subject you posted on, BUT

Michael Sam's "outing" is indeed significant. His prowess at his position, and his declaration are a direct challenge to a homophobic NFL to ... "balls in your court" show your hand. I am to say the least impressed. The fact that he has not yet been "chosen" is the point.

but people are becoming much more small minded than they were even 15 years ago

I hate it but I agree, but attribute that more to politics than anything. TEA PARTY would not have been tolerated ten years ago in my opinion and why that insanity is now, I have no idea! When "crazies" (that is my opinion) sense support they tend to come forward. Hence the "beware of mobs of stupid people" advice.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
The issue is that of the 4 big team sports, Football is the one where it is expected to come in bodily contact with other players, where that really isn't the case with the others. And Football is all about the "machismo" of the competitors. If you had a pissing contest with all of these sports, Football is the one you'd want to bring a Gatorade Bucket to!

Sam is going to really be a level up from the situation with Jason Collins because of all of those elements. It's really going to be fascinating to see where Sam gets drafted, what team takes him and how they handle the press conference and training camp media circus that is sure to follow.

I really want to believe that people are as good as crushdmb firmly believes, but based on my empirical knowledge and the commentary I'm seeing online, I'm just not as convinced... And yeah Tea Party is still steering the GOP for the most part, so there's that.
ravenfeather
Feb. 24th, 2014 03:28 am (UTC)
4 big team sports,

Football, Baseball, Soccer and... ? *blink blink blink*

There are FOUR?

Kidding aside. I agree on all points except the Jason Collins issue... because I don't follow baseball and don't know enough to have an opinion on it. I do have to admit however that it would be NICE to live in crushdmb's world.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 04:26 am (UTC)
NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL.

You really don't need to follow baseball for this, tho. It's really the gist of how the sport works. Baseball, there's no contact at all. Hockey and basketball more contact, with most of it "illegal" i.e. some penalty for it. But with NFL, every play the guys are hitting each other, and that's going to be a point that someone is going to bring up.

But Jason Collins had success in the start: Nets beat the Lakers in Los Angeles! Brooklyn with another historic first!
ravenfeather
Feb. 24th, 2014 07:40 am (UTC)
BASKETBALL!

Man, how could I have missed that one? Ok, and Hockey.... that one I know why I missed.

Your point is valid however, it is the non outing of sports figures until they are retired (I.E. Brian Boitano - as if that was ever an unknown) for sports reasons. I am not sure that sports will catch up, or how fast sports will catch up, but I think society is making some strides. There are only two non football programs I watch on television. Both are food related btw. But one is the Chew. One of the many many reasons I LIKE the show is that everyone is out there and seems to be honest about who they are. When they are talking about their spouses, The fact that Clinton Kelly's spouse is a same sex is not a "thing", Neither are drugs, alcohol, taking other people's food from the fridge, cheating in competitions... etc. None of these human traits is a taboo.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 12:26 pm (UTC)
The other element that people really focus on is a "team" sport... That's what makes this different from Brian Boitano or Greg Louganis. It's like somehow these homophobes can't seem to comprehend that when there is a job to do, it's not about sex.

But yeah. It's about the teammates... It's like if some horny hetero guy was on a team of all women and in their locker room. That's probably the image that is causing the issue.
ravenfeather
Feb. 24th, 2014 04:35 pm (UTC)
I have always wondered what the root cause of homophobia is. Like your example of the horny guy in the women's locker room suggests. Just because he is in there, does not mean you have to have sex with him... hetero or homo it seems to me that what homophobic folks are afraid of is their own sexual reaction.
penpusher
Feb. 24th, 2014 05:13 pm (UTC)
EXACTLY! These responses are really rooted in the reaction that these observers would likely have/expect to have if they were in that circumstance.

That speaks a lot more about who they are, not who they are judging.
ravenfeather
Feb. 25th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
YEP!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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