When Jason Collins publicly came out as homosexual a couple weeks back, it was a huge step forward on the march towards a more tolerant and accepting society. While some pro athletes such as NBA star Kenneth Faried and NFL punter Chris Kluwe have been open supporters of equality and acceptance, homophobia and bigotry still haunt athletics, with gay slurs being used as insults by coaches, athletes such as NFL wide receiver Mike Wallace, NFL cornerback Chris Culliver, and pro golfer Bubba Watson making homophobic tweets or comments, and sports commentator Chris Broussard using his religion as cover to spew this bigotry:
“Personally I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals,” Broussard said. ”If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be. I think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
The battle for tolerance is a battle that homophobes can not win. Quite simply, for the vast majority of today’s youth, sexual orientation just isn’t that big of a deal. But while the end result of the conflict is decided, there are still many battles left to fight. Jason Collins becoming the first active professional male athlete to come out is a big deal and a great victory that will open the closet door for many homosexual athletes, but we still have to contend with people using their bronze age morality as an excuse to hate a group of people, then scream that they are being oppressed when called on their bigotry.
And we have to deal with situations such as this one, from the world of women’s basketball.
It’s apparently no accident former Baylor star Brittney Griner didn’t publicly reveal she was gay until after her college career ended last month.
Griner told espnW that Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey requested players not be publicly open about their sexuality out of fear it would affect the perception of the program in the community and negatively impact recruiting.
“It was a recruiting thing,” Griner told espnW. “The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor.
That Baylor would discourage gay players from publicly discussing their sexuality is a sad testament to the pervasiveness of homophobia in America and to the pressure on college coaches to win. Mulkey was apparently willing to ask players to hide part of their identity because she couldn’t risk alienating a recruit or two who wouldn’t be comfortable playing alongside openly gay teammates.
Honestly? If the recruits wouldn’t be comfortable playing alongside openly gay teammates, then Coach Mulkey shouldn’t have even recruited them. She wouldn’t recruit a player who wouldn’t be comfortable playing alongside a black teammate, no matter how good of a player the potential recruit may have been. With religion being the last bastion for open bigotry against homosexuals, one has to wonder if Baylor’s status as a Christian University had any bearing on Coach Mulkey’s request to her star player.
We’re winning, but there is always progress to be made.