Monday, April 29, 2013

The Openly-Gay NBA Player & the Incomprehension of Mike Wallace

In a ground-breaking announcement today, NBA free agent Jason Collins has become the first non-retired professional athlete (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer) to come out as a gay  man. As you can imagine, the internet exploded...until Tim Tebow got shit-canned, and then everyone moved on. Sorta.

I'm an active ally in the LGBT movement, so I'm incredibly proud of Mr. Collins for taking the brave step of coming out and being true to himself. As he says in his Sports Illustrated article, "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

Mike Wallace, formerly of the Steelers and currently of the Dolphins, was apparently the first person to "say something dumb" about Collins' revelation:

Honestly, as far as athletes' reactions to LGBT news, this is really, really mild. Wallace isn't hating on Collins specifically, or even gay men in general; he just said that the idea of someone being with a person of the same sex was a foreign concept to him. Now, I'm not trying to excuse Wallace's comments entirely; they WERE dumb and fairly insensitive to the gay community. But really? Admitting ignorance on a subject rather than just Twitter-blasting hate speech isn't, in my opinion, something to get that worked up over. Chances are good my comrades in the LGBT community disagree, but that's the lovely thing about being a human; we can all be a part of a supportive, collective movement and still disagree with one another.

Give Mike Wallace a break. I'm sure he got mad schooled by hundreds of people (on Twitter and on blogs) for every several dozen of fans supporting his statements. He took the tweets down and immediately apologized. Hopefully in the future he'll think twice before tweeting and maybe do some research as to why "guys wanna mess with other guys" to purge the ignorance from his mind.

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