Saturday, November 10, 2007


Note: This was written shortly after John Amaechi, a former Penn State and NBA player, publicly admitted that he is gay through his autobiography, 'Man in the Middle'. A solid center for Cleveland, Orlando and Utah, his discussion about his sexuality raised some eyebrows as many either dismissed it because he is not currently active in the league, commended him for being the first NBA-affiliated player to come out or lambasted him for taking the bold step. With that, it made Tim Hardaway a loved man, sort of speak.

I’m listening to the 1999 street-banger-of-the-year, Big Pun’s ‘Capital Punishment’ and it gets to ‘Uncensored’, one of the million of skits on the album. Pun is supposedly interviewing on the radio with Funkmaster Flex when they begin speaking off-the-air. Flex leads the convo into Pun’s sexual exploits: “I hear you really been… f***in’, “ Flex says to lead the conversation.

No matter how much I love this album, this is one of those tracks that I could do without, just as I feel for any album that features needless tracks about sex. It sounds Puritan or old-fashioned, but the older you get, the less you need to know about someone’s bedroom furnishings.

The track did remind me of the story that seems to make folks a little edgy these days. John Amaechi, a former NBA big man during the late 1990s, is the first NBA-affiliated player (active or retired) to openly admit that he is gay. For some, this is juicy media. For some, it’s unnecessary. For many, Amaechi isn’t that true attention-grabbing player that the world is waiting for to come out. So we are looking for the answer to one of sports’ most intriguing questions: “when will an active player in American pro sports come out as a homosexual?”.

The answer to that question is idealistically simple, but practically complex at the same time. The hopeful and open-minded sports fan would say that an active player make this revelation when society at large embraces the gay man or woman without prejudice or ridicule.


Maybe the Celtics will get that number one draft pick this time. Maybe there’s affordable housing in Beacon Hill, Daly City or the Upper East Side. Maybe, just maybe, 2Pac and Elvis have an album coming out.

Ideally, we would love for people to be blind to anything but ability, but we know that realistically, for an active MALE player, he would have to essentially sabotage his career, including endorsements, future contracts and sponsorships. Even his charitable works will be subjected to unfair treatment and ridicule just because of his sexuality. Sheryl Swoopes 'came out' last year, but many people already figured that any woman that plays basketball is a lesbian and considering that there is a solid lesbian fanbase for the WNBA, there wasn't as much fervor. Amaechi was a solid player for a few years, but it is because he's a former male athlete in a prominent American league that his story stands out so much more than an accomplished female athlete as Swoopes.

The real question I have is "why must someone come out?"

Some may ask that question and feel that it's about being a symbol or beacon for other gays to reveal their true identity. However, in addition to the loss of exposure and respect, there's also that matter of being considered a martyr.

I'm not the most devout, but I would believe that Jesus himself struggled with the idea that he had to give himself without fail. What makes us think that someone will WANT to carry that weight, especially with the fact that we are not as accepting of a society as we think? There's enough of a fight for people to accept each other for what we can see with our own eyes (skin color) and to ask for someone to defend and represent something that is intangible such as sexuality seems impossible.

I pray that day comes in which we don't care. I don't even like hearing about the sex lives and conversations about straight people and I'm straight. I don't think that every gay person is thinking of sex when there's a straight person in the room and the fact that we, in general, fear this is paranoid and beyond ignorant. This story is a big deal for a reason, even if we don't want it to be. I doubt that this would be a big story if our society didn't put out sexuality so much, gay, straight or bi. So for those who may be appalled or upset by this story…

… Maybe you’re the problem.

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