Monday, February 19, 2007

Bent Judgment


-->The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision. ~Lynn Lavner
John Amaechi used to play in the NBA, which was news to me, since I don't follow pro basketball at all. Mr. Amaechi, who didn't have much success as a basketball professional, has made quite a splash as an author by writing a book in which he announces that is gay.
Tim Hardaway is a former NBA basketball player, too. I always confuse him with Penny Hardaway (whose real name is Anfernee, which explains why he goes by a nickname), but I won't any more because Tim Hardaway has definitively made himself stand out in my mind.
It seems that Mr. Hardaway was in Las Vegas to participate in a publicity role during the NBA All-Star weekend. He was being interviewed by a Miami sports columnist, Dan LeBatard, on a radiio sports talk show. As the interview was winding down, Mr. LeBatard asked Mr. Hardaway his opinion of Mr. Amaechi's coming out. Mr. Hardaway then proceeded to lose his mind.
It's not that he started screaming or acting like some maniac; quite the opposite. He succinctly and calmly explained that he was very uncomfortable with the idea of a gay player in the locker room, he would not want a gay man on his team, and he didn't want to be around gay people. When Mr. LeBatard pointed out that this was a “bigoted” point of view, Mr. Hardaway failed to grasp the straw he was was being thrown. My thought was that the interviewer wanted Mr. Hardaway, a member of a group that has suffered at the hands of intolerance, to think about how his own prejudice toward gays was, at best, ironic.
Mr. Hardaway was not about to be rescued.
Still speaking calmly, he said, and I quote, “You know, I hate gay people, so I'll let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.”
Smooth move, groove.
Mr. Hardaway subsequently found himself unwelcome at the All-Star festivities, being told by NBA Commissioner David Stern that his presence was no longer desired in, around, or near the part of the world where the All-Star game was being played. This act finally triggered the alarm bells in Mr. Hardaway's tiny little brain, signalling to him that he may have gone a bit too far. He issued an apology, in which he did not repudiate his stance but merely said he was sorry that he had stated it out loud.
Just so we're clear here, allow me to say that I would be uncomfortable in a locker room with a gay man, just as I would be uncomfortable with a female teammate in the same locker room. But, I certainly wouln't mind having a gay man as a teammate or a co-worker, so I suppose I could get used to the idea. In fact, I've known several gay people over the years and found that I liked some of them and found some of them to be a pain. My judgement had nothing to do with their sexuality; it had to do with them as people.
So, had Mr. Hardaway stopped at the “uncomfortable” level, I could have understood that. However, when discomfort escalates to hate, that is wrong.
I don't know what it is about this whole gay vs. straight thing. There are all sorts of theories why so many straight people get bent out of shape at the concept of homosexuality. The fact is that Americans are very hung up on the subject of sexuality of any sort. Most of us go through a hypocritical upbringing as regards sex, which hasn't changed much over the years, even though television brings sex into the living room every night (between bouts of excessive violence).
I also get confused about why gays and lesbians think it's so important to hold parades where they actually enforce the stereotypes of flaming homosexuality. It is like the NAACP holding a rally where everyone shows up carrying watermelons and saying “Yowzah, boss!”
I don't feel the need to wear a sign that says, “I'm a heterosexual”, and I don't really care what the sexual proclivities of people I interact with are. If I walk into someone's office and see a family picture showing that person cuddling with someone of the same sex, it's not going to bother me particularly, and it definitely isn't going to change the way I regard that person.
If, on the other hand, that person feels the need to show up cross-dressed and scream, “I'm queer! What are you gonna do about it?”, I'm not going to think, “Yech, one of those people!” No, I'm going to think, “What a complete loon!” and move away before he or she gets violent.
We don't need to hide our differences, and we don't need to emphasize them. It is our differences that make humanity dynamic. But, using those differences to discriminate against people diminishes all of us. Frankly, there are so many serious problems in the world that we don't need to be wasting energy on who is sleeping with whom.
The Hardaways of the world (and the United States) need to figure this out and get on with life.

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