On a freezing cold early
February morning, recently, the national news
media announced that a rough tough college
football player, headed for the NFL, had come
out, boldly announcing that he's gay. My
first thought was, "yeah so?" But then I
realized that to the happy hetero world of
national sports, this news was kind of a final
frontier. We will know that we have
achieved full equality when everyone says, "yeah
so?" Still, at first, I couldn't stop myself
from yawning in boredom about it. So, I
thought, "now football fans will
find themselves confused and conflicted as they
shout inebriated at their huge HD TV screens. OMG! Should they "cheer for
the Queer?" Just imagine their angst!
Some of these fine folks still haven't gotten
over other minority participation in national
sports. So now they'll choke on their
buffalo wings, flummoxed, fulminating,
ferblungert and ferklemt, oy vey!
And then, in late February came
the national news of a gay basketball player!
He's been signed for a 'Ten Day Contract!' OMG!
Will the sun even rise tomorrow?
Naturally, the news media went to a local bar
near the stadium where he's to play and asked
'typical' imbiber sports fans what they thought
of it all. Maybe it was early in the
evening before they had too much to drink to get
loose lipped; but those who might have had
something negative to say seemed to have had the
sober wisdom to bow out of doing that on TV.
So, there were 'neutral' opinions only by those
who said something like, "so long as he scores
(hoops) they could care less about how he lives
his life." Lovely, progressive! I think.
Still this really IS PROGRESS!
I mean, not a single sports commentator or news
jockey even thought or dared to mention that
both of these fine American athletes are Black.
It was not that long ago in our short
American history that THAT would have been, and
was, the Big News. The racial integration
of professional sports in America came in 1947,
a year before President Harry S. Truman
integrated our armed forces by Executive Order,
and nearly twenty years before civil rights were
enshrined into law by Congress with the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. It was not that long
ago that news media would not even consider
reporting 'unmentionable gay news.' Gay
news was 'unfit for family consumption' in
newspapers an on TV, no matter what it was
about. Now suddenly the local and national
news and sports media are babbling excitedly about these
two gay guys in excruciatingly politically
correct language and beaming with pride.
As my old uncle used to sarcastically say about
social progress, "That's Nice!"
But seriously, if we are good
enough to serve and sacrifice in combat for our
country, then we're surely good enough to
earn a few million dollars entertaining sports
fans by playing football and basketball.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender American
patriots have volunteered and served and
sacrificed in our armed forces since Lieutenant
General Freidrich Von Steuben trained the
Continental Army at Valley Forge in 1778.
LGBT patriots served in WWII, Vietnam, Korea,
the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and now still in
Afghanistan. THAT is news! That is
courage! In 1975, my friend Air Force Tech
Sgt Leonard Matlovich came out in a public
letter to the Secretary of the Air Force.
He was on the cover of
in uniform with the huge headline, "I am a
homosexual." He didn't fit the false standard
stereotype of 'the sissy faggot' skulking around
the the shadows; he was a Vietnam War hero with
a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He looked
every bit like the brave military sergeant that
his was: tall, mustachioed, ruggedly handsome,
and serious. And so they dared to present
him as he was to the American public. I
can tell you, he was for real. Sacrificing
his twelve year military career for the cause of
our freedom, after having sacrificed his body
and nearly his life in combat in Vietnam, took
incredible courage. It was real news, big
So, now, all these decades
later, after so many brave men and women who
served our nation in uniform came out publicly
for our freedom, after so many died or were
disabled in combat, after the 'sturm und drang'
of the repeal of DADT and DOMA, after the battle
for the right to marry was won in some eighteen
states with more on the way, after all that, I'm
a bit wearied to see that a couple of gay
professional athletes coming out makes the news
media salivate over 'big news' with their eyes
popping and leering out of their heads.
Sigh! I can hardly wait for the first
transgender football player to come out; the
news media will piss in their pants in leering
excitement to scoop each other on that story.
I want to shout, "Get over it!"
All that is not to say that the
two athletes are not courageous; they are!
They open themselves to homophobic cursing and
blame if their team looses a few games.
They stand to loose out on commercial
endorsement contracts and cereal boxes
portraying 'clean' American heroes. And
yet, that basketball player's jerseys, featuring
a number memorializing Matthew Shepherd, was the
top seller on the NBA website in late February
(the proceeds were donated to LGBT groups by the
then there's sports trading cards. I'm
told that it was nearly a decade after black
American athletes were integrated into pro
sports teams that trading cards were finally
made portraying them.
And that leads to the
interesting question of 'why there are no
trading cards portraying American military
heroes?' Seriously; they could start with
Medal of Honor recipients! During our
service years, we heard about "Solider of the
Month" and "Sailor of the Year," and similar
recognition for standing out. Some LGBT
service members even received those honors.
But, outside the insular world of our armed
forces communities, we have been largely
invisible. How many kids trade cards
picturing Purple Heart awardees who also hold
the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry? If our
professional sports heroes get that kind of
recognition, why not our nation's patriots who
were willing to sacrifice for our freedom?
discussing this issue with other LGBT military
activists, someone said, "Not all courage is
created equal." Think about that for a
moment. How can you compare pro sports
players with those who patriotically volunteered
to serve our country in WWII, Korea, Vietnam,
Iraq and Afghanistan? And yet, Jackie
Robinson regularly received death threats, and
gay service members were actually killed by
their own fellow soldiers and sailors. So,
perhaps courage is courage no matter who, how,
and where it happens. Its something to