By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) A “queer” is getting a Super Bowl ring. The Lombardi Trophy has recently been held by a “homo.”
Actually, at least 47 gay men (probably gay women, too) have been a part of a Super Bowl champion organization, and it’s very likely many more than that. Players, coaches, executives, broadcasting crews, secretaries, and any other cog in the great NFL team machine.
Let that sink in for a minute, bigots. You the ignorant who can’t deal with your own issues and who instead concern yourselves with the personal lives of others, you who would consider a person’s sexuality as a prerequisite for job placement. Those of you like Chris Culliver.
Because Culliver and those who agree with his stance on homosexuals are stupid people. This is not debatable, at least not in the sense that two intelligent parties can debate it. And despite Culliver’s apology, his beliefs are still homophobic. Celebrity apologies for inflammatory things said are to appease the offended, but they are not an indication that the spirit of the words has suddenly changed. Culliver is a bigot, as are all homophobes. Perhaps the work he plans on doing with the LGBT community will be, as his publicist/custodian has said, “an opportunity for him to learn about his comments and educate himself about the LGBT community, and grow.” For now, though, Culliver is stupid.
And unlike one’s sexuality, stupid is a choice. Also unlike sexuality, stupid can be cured. I hope that Culliver’s work ends up altering his worldview and that he chooses to accept people with different personal lifestyles than his. That goes for anyone, within a sports organization or not, who actively makes the choice to be so dumb.
I also hope that will help to foster an environment where this and future now-anonymous gay Super Bowl champs will feel comfortable enough to be who they are publicly and in their work environment. One good thing that inane homophobic comments by athletes always produce is discussion of whether or not a gay male athlete would be accepted by teammates. Honest or not, most athletes respond that a teammate’s sexuality means little or nothing to them.
As Cyd Zielger and Howard Bragman, who helped bring former NBA player John Amaechi out of the closet, write: “The vast majority of athletes would support an openly gay teammate. Heck, a majority even support that gay teammate’s right to marry. Fans are ready. Leagues are ready. Big-time sponsors are ready. We are ready for that athlete to come out, and there’s a world of support out there.”
Yet there still has been no openly gay athlete actively participating in one of the four major sports. And yet we—the nonstupid element of sports—know that gay men have professional sports contracts. Now, as much as I demand people respect the personal lives of others, I also reserve someone’s right to keep his or her sexuality very private. So if a man who smashes his body into that of other large men or hits a ball thrown at an incredibly high speed prefers to not let the world know that he is gay, I have to respect that. I’m not looking to force someone to do anything.
But—and I as a straight man obviously can’t fathom the pressure of such a thing—it needs to happen. Like, now. The sooner a gay man says “Hey, I play in the NFL” and/or NBA, NHL, or MLB, the sooner more will admit that, and the sooner fans will accept it as just a part of the game and a part of life. For some reason, many people take sports more seriously than much of real life. Perhaps acceptance of homosexuals in athletics would do a greater good of leading to a broader acceptance off the field.
It’s fitting that the Baltimore Ravens are the Super Bowl champions just as the discussion of gay athletes grows more popular. The Ravens feature Brendon Ayanbadejo, possibly the most outspoken athlete ever in terms of lobbying for gay acceptance, and a guy who has dealt with his fair share of criticism from the ignorant and intolerant. A Super Bowl victory can only work to give Ayanbadejo a bigger platform with which to try to educate people.
What’s unfortunate, though, is that Ayanbadejo likely has a gay teammate, one that he is fighting for without even knowing it exactly. It would sure be nice to finally be able to put a face to that fight.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.