Friday, May 11, 2007

I Get By With Very Little Help From My Friends

I was just reading an article about a talk John Amaechi gave to the Log Cabin Republican group, a gay republican political organization. I won’t even get into how twisted I think it must feel to be a gay republican. We can leave that for another time. What I wanted to talk about is something John said in his talk that really struck me. Here is what John said:

“Probably 30 of my former (NBA) teammates have my e-mail and my telephone contacts and probably 16 or so of those I was in regular touch with and there are probably 10 people who I have (on instant messenger). And zero—nobody—who’s active in the NBA has been in touch with me since the day I came out, despite the fact that most of them knew I was gay in the first place.”

Wow. I’m trying to think about what this means. Is it an indication of the extent of homophobia in the NBA? Was Tim Hardaway speaking for the majority of the league, after all? I mean, these guys were his teammates and, presumably, some were his friends, and not one of them called, texted or emailed?

Former players like Charles Barkley, Doc Rivers and Isiah Thomas did make supportive comments in the press about John’s coming out. So did Shaq and a few other current players. I could even understand players not wanting to talk to the press about this, but it is mind boggling that not one of the players who he has regular contact with got in touch with him.

Maybe since many of them knew about John already, it wasn’t a big deal to them. Maybe they don’t understand that coming out publicly is always a big deal to the person doing it. I’d like to think this was the reason for their silence. I hope their non-response is not an indication of their discomfort, their hostility or their fear. Maybe having John call them out on this will get some of them to contact him now. Better late than never, I guess.

It is always amazing to me that heterosexual male athletes, especially team sport athletes, cultivate this big tough guy image, yet for some of them, the thought of one gay guy in the locker room poses a big threat. Or is it the idea that a gay guy can be as tough and strong as they like to think they are that poses the threat? After all, if a gay guy can be tough and strong or if a woman athlete can be tough and strong, maybe it makes their exclusive right to toughness and strength a little shaky. Maybe that's the biggest threat to heterosexual masculinity, revealing how fragile it is, after all?

1 comment:

Scamp said...

"I think coach [Rene] Portland - and I've said this from Day 1 - has laid a very strong foundation," [Coquese] Washington said. "She's an icon in women's basketball. Her legacy of success is not something that I shy away from. We embrace the things she did as a coach . . . We're going to try to adhere to that standard and take it to new heights."

Here's an example of the reverse of John Amaechi's experience: coaches who keep silent about the misbehavior of their colleagues. How I wish Coach Washington had said "let's focus on the future" of Penn State women's basketball and refrained from calling Rene Portland "an icon."