Tag Archives: homosexual

Time, Support Required to Make Mercer’s Rant a Reality

By Jason Menard

While having more people of prominence come out may help prevent tragedies like Jamie Hubley’s suicide, it’s going to take time and understanding to help people take those first brave steps out of the closet.

Recently Rick Mercer discussed why people in positions of power and influence should publicly come out of the closet. And while this would be a huge step forward in helping gay teens, I certainly can’t fault anyone who decides to keep their sexuality under wraps. Continue reading

Immature Sports World Will Keep Closet Closed, Miss Out on Opportunity to Do Good

By Jason Menard

Yesterday’s New York Times ran a story about Phoenix Suns’ president and chief executive Rick Welts, who recently decided to come out to the sporting world. What should be a “so what?” moment, unfortunately, won’t be. And, despite Welts’ bravery, true change won’t come about until an active player walks proudly out of the closet. Continue reading

Exposure Key to Gay Acceptance

By Jason Menard

Tim Hardaway just told it like it is. The question isn’t why should we be shocked that these attitudes towards homosexuals exist, but rather why should we think that attitudes have changed that much?

Say what you want about Hardaway’s comments, but the retired basketball player simply expressed his true feelings, without the layers of innuendo, politically correct speak, and evasion that so many others have. In response to a question regarding former NBA player John Amaeche’s recent announcement that he is gay, the retired point guard stated “I hate gays.”

He admitted that he was a homophobe and simply stated that he’d rather not associate with homosexuals. Forward thinking? No. Honest, yes. And you know what, I’d rather people who have these attitudes be honest and up front about them. At least then you know where they stand.

Homosexuality is the final frontier. It’s the last acceptable bastion of intolerance. Imagine what would have happened had the table been turned and a white player had said, in regards to Tim Hardaway, “I hate black people.” Sure, Hardaway’s been removed from any NBA public relations events, but that’s tantamount to a slap on the wrist.

I hate gays. That’s about as honest as can be. But what’s worse: Hardaway’s ill-informed, but heartfelt belief, or other statements like the gem that’s destined to live on in infamy uttered by Philadelphia 76ers forward Shavlik Randolph who said, “as long as you don’t bring your gayness on me that’s fine.” Or the half-assed argument levied by LeBron James who said it would be hard to trust a player who wasn’t honest about themselves and how that wouldn’t be conducive to a team dynamic.

It’s all a bunch of crap. It’s all intolerance and it’s all something that wouldn’t be tolerated by anyone if the issues were about colour or gender. But sexuality is our last taboo. And it’s not just in the testosterone-heavy sports world that we see this type of ignorance.

It’s on our school yards. One would have hoped things have progressed from the times in my youth where, in our fits of ignorance, we made jokes about this new disease about AIDS. We were young, we were struggling with our emerging sexualities, and the easiest way to ensure that you weren’t called a “fag” was to assert your masculinity through what’s tantamount to gay bashing. My son, in grade seven, has heard the same type of language bandied about in 2007. Fag, homo, queer are used as derogative terms in a way that racial epithets would never be tolerated.

Then we wonder why so few people come out?

And that’s part of the problem. People are afraid of what they don’t know. I can honestly say that I was never knowingly exposed to a gay person until I reached university. I know that’s probably not true, but I met the first person that I met who was “out” after high school. Since then, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to call many homosexuals my friends – not because they’re gay, but because they’re good people. Prior to that, I was the same as many others – joining in with gay jokes without thought of their consequence. After all, it’s easy to be insensitive when you haven’t been sensitized.

But since that time, I’ve met gay family members, friends, and associates. Their sexuality or mine has never been an issue. We would speak about our respective partners, mine being my wife, theirs being their boyfriend or girlfriend, as if there was nothing in the world strange about it – and the reason is because there is nothing in the world strange about it.

The unfortunate part is that the world around homosexuals is strange about them. Being gay isn’t catching. You either are or aren’t. I’ve seen homosexual couples kiss and yet never had the urge to find a guy to lock lips with. When gay marriage was made legal, it didn’t impact me in any way, shape, or form. I did not leave my wife in search of a same-sex union.

So why would playing sports with a gay teammate be any different? Having been in my share of locker rooms, both playing sports and covering them, I know that the behaviour displayed in there is certainly nothing that would be considered arousing. Put it this way: the gay guy in the locker room is probably not interested in the puerile, armpit-fart-noise making, towel-snapping, vulgar heterosexual teammate.

Yet there’s still this great fear – the fear of the unknown. But maybe that will change one day. Just as white people learned that there’s nothing wrong with associating with black people, so too maybe will heterosexuals learn that sexuality has nothing to do with how we interact. Sure, there will always be those who remain ignorant – just as there are those who hate people because of the colour of their skin or think that women are inferior to men just because of their genitalia. But maybe the rest of us can grow and learn.

On the playground, my son remains confused because his experience with homosexuals differs from what he hears on the playground. The anger and vitriol with which his friends characterize homosexuals doesn’t wash with his real-life experience with our friends and family members. And that won’t change until parents learn and share their experiences with their children. It’s all about education and familiarization.

Maybe we can learn to appreciate each other for what we are. And it starts with exposure. From musicians coming out, to TV actors, to sports athletes – when we that sexuality doesn’t have any impact on our icons’ ability to perform, then maybe we’ll get over this hang-up.

After all, whether it’s dribbling a basketball or filling out a report, the only thing that matters is your skills and talents – not who shares your bed at night.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Being Gay in Sports Tougher on Men

By Jason Menard

Sheryl Swoopes, arguably the greatest female basketball player on the planet, has come out of the closet. But what must have been a trying and gut-wrenching decision for her to go public with her sexuality gets met with a collective yawn from the sporting public.

So why is it that female athletes can come out and be greeted with a “been-there-done-that” reaction from the world at large, yet the male sporting world remains suspiciously devoid of prominent gay athletes? It’s a combination of the public’s double-standard of sexuality for men and women, and the stone-age throwback macho mentality that permeates sports.

Swoopes, like others female athletes in the past like Amelie Mauresmo and Martina Navratalova, will continue her dominance of the sport. She’ll be lauded for her bravery and then relegated to the back pages of the sports section from whence she came. All the while, the clock continues to tick as anxious sports writers keep an eye on the closet door for that first high-profile male to peek his head around the corner.

Forget sports, homosexuality in male team sports is truly the final frontier. But why is it different? Why is it acceptable to the public for a woman to be gay and not for a man? It’s hard to say, but much of it has to go to public perception.

Lesbianism is almost chic these days. Modern media is rife with Sapphic sensuality. The male-dominated marketplace swallows up this imagery as titillation – despite the obvious fact that there are just two more girls who aren’t interested in them! Is it a penetration thing? Is the idea of women being with women more visually appealing to most than the thought of two men copulating – despite the acts being inherently the same at their root?

Or is it because we’re accustomed to displays of affection between women? Whether it’s holding hands walking down the street, dancing together, or calling each other “girlfriend,” women have been far more liberal in their ability to express affection. Now try picturing a man referring to his drinking buddy as his “boyfriend” or comforting each other after a sad movie – it doesn’t happen.

It’s why Ellen Degeneres can host a wonderful talk show that millions enjoy without her sexuality mattering, as it should be. But where are all those gay male hosts and actors? Why is it so much of a challenge to come out?

In a sporting environment it’s even worse. Locker rooms are rife with “fag” and “homo” jokes and comments, there are strict protocols of where your eyes can linger in the shower (keep ‘em above the waist), and overt displays of masculinity bordering on the puerilistic are considered essential for team-building — so much so that for many players, the idea of having a gay teammate is anathema.

It’s sad to think that the next person who comes out while playing professional sports like football, hockey, or baseball, will be considered a trail-blazer. It’s a poor commentary on our society that in 2005 we’re still not comfortable with the concept of love that we’ve yet to come to a time when a gay athlete can feel comfortable coming out of the closet, not because of the public perception – but rather because of the perception amongst the very people he’s gone to war with on the playing field.

Being gay or straight doesn’t affect your ability to play a sport any more than being black or white does. And in a sporting environment wherein even a comment that may or may not be misconstrued as being racist is met with swift and decisive action, rampant homophobia and borderline gay-bashing can run unchecked and be used as a source of humour.

We need to stop thinking that gay males are sexual deviants looking to ravage unsuspecting heterosexuals at the next available opportunity. The gay athlete that hasn’t taken any interest in his straight teammate is certainly not going to turn into a molesting deviant preying on his teammates once he comes out of the closet. He’ll just be like everyone else – a person looking for love.

And even if your teammate finds you attractive, what’s really wrong with that? Most of us aren’t running the risk of finding ourselves on the cover of GQ anytime soon, so we should be kneeling down and thanking whatever deity or spiritual force we believe in that someone – anyone – thinks we’re not half-bad looking. Hell, I thank my lucky stars that my beautiful wife thinks I’m attractive – anything else is just gravy! The fact is we’re all human, gay or straight, and we have the choice to say yes or no to suitors of either sex. It doesn’t diminish our sexuality in one iota – so where’s the problem?

There’s a double-standard of gayness in our society and it’s something that has to end. Male-male, female-female, either way we should accept the fact that two people have found happiness with each other, regardless of what they’ve got below the belt. The women have figured it out. Now it’s the men’s – and the rest of society’s — turn.

Sports is just a game, but until we live in a world where sexuality is irrelevant to judging a person’s worth on the field or off, then we’re all losers in the game of life.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved