There will come a day, hopefully soon but at least within our lifetimes, where news about an athlete — or anyone — being gay is not news at all. A time where someone says, “I’m gay” and the response is simply “And…?” There will come a day where homosexuality is a non-issue.
Today is NOT that day. Today, current NBA free agent center Jason Collins let it be known to the world that he is gay. And it is front page news. Now, i understand that given the current times that we are in where gay marriage in the United States is still a very sensitive issue that this is definitely newsworthy. But will we ever get to that point where no one even has to say this?
Now, do i think that it is great that Collins “came out” in a sport where machismo runs rampant? Sure. But, let’s not make him out to be Jackie Robinson here. Black athletes were not allowed to play; gay athletes have not been (officially) barred from playing. There is a distinct difference. Plenty of gay athletes have played various types of sports without (direct) hindrance.
On the other hand, gay athletes must often hide who they are because of the fear and intimidation factor. In this sense, then Collins is attempting to “open the door.” Most gay athletes only let it be known after they retired from their respective sport. So, what Collins is doing is great. However, in an ideal world, we’d just say “And…?” and just move on, not thinking twice. Instead, not only is it news, he is a bit more praised than perhaps he needs to be. In this way, i agree with Tim Brando’s initial statement concerning hero-worship. Hopefully he can serve as an example for other gay athletes to find the courage to be themselves and still play the sport they love. But, using “hero” is a bit much.
And, of course, because this is news, there are reactions. And, besides Brando’s reaction, there is Mike Wallace, current wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. Wallace’s reaction was simple:
All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…
Now, look. It is one thing to be intolerant and ignorant about something. There are far too many people in this world who brush off homosexuality as “evil,” “immoral,” “confusion,” “wrong” or that it is against God and a host of other code words to ostracize gays and lesbians. There are way too many people who levy a new level of hate towards gays without much reason behind there thinking.
But, I do not think Wallace’s comments qualify as such. Yes, Wallace might be intolerant of gays, but he did not pull a Chris Culliver here. And we do not honestly know if Wallace is intolerant or “homophobic.” What we know, going only by his tweet, is that Wallace cannot understand why a man would love another man.
Is this so difficult to understand? Not understanding homosexuality, but understanding Wallace’s comments. When i read the headline about the first “homophobic comment” to come out regarding Collins, i expected something Culliverian…or worse. Instead, the comment is simply one of (mis)understanding; Wallace, who loves women, not understanding how a man can love another man.
It is more simple than the media is making it out to be. There are decisions that many people make that we wonder why they do that. On a grander scale, that is what Wallace is asking. Again, there is a difference in rhetoric here. Acceptance and understanding are two different things. It is possible to accept homosexuality while at the same time not understanding it. Liken it to how some people who are pro-choice are actually not for abortion, believing that the choice is individual even if they do not support an abortion itself.
Thus, i think that there was been a great misunderstanding about Mike Wallace’s understanding about homosexuality. I think it is fair for someone to not understand homosexuality. Again, there are many lifestyles and choices that we do not understand. Why is this any different? For many, the concept of homosexuality is very difficult to grasp, especially since they are not gay. So, should we not also make an attempt to understand why others don’t understand.
Let me be clear in closing. I want to say who cares about Collins “coming out.” But, the problem is that we are not there. One individual having the courage — and it is indeed courage, do not attempt to diminish that! — to stand up for who he really is is still only a tiny step in a longer quest. So, Collins is still an ambassador for millions of people who still must hide in fear because of intolerance and ignorance. But, we must separate that ignorance for understanding.
Besides, there is far worse being spouted off by ignorant people that reflect why “coming out” is still newsworthy. Observe just a sampling of the morons:
And then, there is this gem, which exemplifies why this is still a big issue and will continue to be so.