In our editorial meeting on Thursday, Jane called us out on a few instances where "gay" was used as a pejorative on the site. Even though it's something some of us still say (guilty as charged, unfortunately), it's not something any of us (I don't normally speak for others, but in this case, I feel pretty confident the xoJane writers would nod in agreement) actually believe should be used in that manner. [Of course it shouldn't be used in that manner -- I feel like we are having a debate that should have been concluded years ago. --Jane]
I'm going to do my best to break away from it. If only because, as one person pointed out, we're smarter than that.
Anyway, all the gay talk made me think about all of the gay stuff (actual homosexual, not, like, bad, although if you read the above paragraph, you probably got that) that's been happening in sports news lately. [Now we're talking. --Jane]
Since I always prefer to hear the bad news first, let's start with that: Proving to the world that we still have a long, long ways to go when it comes to the tolerance (ugh, that word in that context bothers me; are we really just supposed to TOLERATE gay people? WTF?) of homosexuality, Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls pulled a Kobe Bryant, who called a ref a "f**king faggot" in April, and said, "F**k you, faggot" to a Miami fan. Kobe was fined $100,000; Noah was fined $50,000.
Not to be outdone by NBA players, Atlanta Braves pitching coach, Roger McDowell, accused three dudes at a Giants' game of being "a homo couple or a threesome" while making lewd gestures at them. (He was suspended for two weeks and required to pay an undisclosed fine.)
On the brighter side, the president of the Phoenix Suns came out (via an article in the New York Times to which his star point guard, Steve Nash, reacted by basically saying "DUH"), as did a former Villanova basketball player and two sports journalists. And in a move that was a first for any professional athlete in New York, Sean Avery of the New York Rangers publicly endorsed gay marriage.
So yeah, all these things, good and bad, have been happening and I've wanted to write about them, but I haven't because it all just seems so obvious: Yes, we're making strides when it comes to the acceptance of homosexuality in the sports world, but we still have a long, long way to go.
But what I'm realizing is that maybe it's only obvious to those of us who never thought there was anything wrong with being gay. There wasn't a lot of room for homophobia growing up in San Francisco or going to college at NYU. I mean, when I was six years old, my mom's interior decorator was a gay man and our plumber was a lesbian (complete with the requisite plumber’s crack). And half of my friends at NYU were out of the closet by Christmas of freshman year. (Clichés exist for a reason, people.)
Without sounding too "Free to Be You and Me" (too late, Daisy), it never occurred to me to judge these people on anything other than who they were on the inside. But even though I know how I feel (and probably how most of you feel) about equal rights for and total acceptance of gay people, that doesn't mean it's not important to write and talk about it.
It's important to chastise athletes, and everyone else for that matter, who use senseless and bigoted homosexual slurs as insults. And it's important to recognize how awesome it is that people who work in the sports industry, one that's notorious for its homophobia, are starting to come out. And it's more important, to me at least, to recognize just how far we have to go.
Quiz time! How many male athletes on professional team sports have come out while active? If you guessed "ZERO" then you win the big prize: a moment of despondence.
But don't get too sad. After all, we are making progress. This week, the WORLD CHAMPION (sometimes I just love all caps!) San Francisco Giants were the first major sports franchise to record a video for the It Gets Better Project, a campaign to prevent suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth, by letting them know that their lives will get better.
I have a few issues with the video, mainly that they only mention LGBT once, so it almost just seems like an "It's hard to be a teenager" campaign, but mostly it's just super kick-ass that they are using their power for good. I mean, it's the Giants, so of course they'd do something awesome like that.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that as your xoJane sports girl, I promise to write about the stuff that's important, not just how I went to a Giants game and had a nervous breakdown about possibly cohabitating with my boyfriend. Because, as much as it bums me out that the sports community has a long way to go when it comes to accepting gay athletes, coaches, owners and journalists, that's just how it is. And I'm not doing anyone any good by not talking about it.