Andy Marsh asked some honest and gentle questions of me in my article How Many Current Professional Athletes Are Gay? and I felt honored that he’d asked, because a lot of my straight friends have probably wondered the same things, so I’ve converted it into a sort of conversation.
Andy: Is it really necessary to have a Gay Games? The way I read the article, it sounds like these athletes want or wanted acceptance…does calling yourself out with things like the gay games really make you feel included or excepted? Are there hetero games or hetero pride days?
Jet: Having lived through the turbulent '60s and '70s the short answer is yes, back then it was; Nowadays maybe not, but back then definitely. As an example, way before your time there was an era when blacks had their own sports teams (The Negro Leagues) because they were segregated and weren’t permitted to play with whites. A sense of intolerance towards blacks back then even extended to having separate whites-only drinking fountains. That same intolerance began brewing toward gays in the 70s and 80s as people like Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” began their unchecked hate mongering and their spreading misinformation about AIDS began doing a lot of damage. In short they succeeded in super gluing the words Gay and AIDS together, leading people to believe their lie that all gays had and spread AIDS.[ADBLOCKHERE]They were so successful that back then even Gay publications were calling it “The Gay Cancer”. Tragically they actually had people believing that you could get AIDS just by swimming in the same chlorinated pool or breathing the same air. The best example was in the 1988 Olympics when Greg Louganis’ head hit the diving board, causing a scare because he’d bled in the pool. Suddenly professional and amateur sports began banning gays from competing because people were led to believe out of ignorance that it was just as easily and/or mysteriously contracted as cancer.
We knew better, but we couldn’t convince the general population of that, so we started holding our own games to insure that great athletes had a place to show their stuff and be recognized without the over exaggerated stigma involved with HIV positive athletes competing.
Andy: It just seems to me that wearing a big sign that says what you are — no matter what it is — is just asking for trouble. Think about it. Even here at Blogcritics, there are people that give some people shit for never serving in the military and those same people give other people shit that DID serve. So it seems to me that any label you put on yourself is just asking some other group to fuck with you, but that's just me. Does calling yourself out with gay pride day and stuff like that really make you feel included or accepted?
Jet: Let me answer that in four parts.
1. There was an era in my life when I’d make good close friends with people, we’d socialize, have fun, play sports, see movies etc. Then they’d find out I was gay, and suddenly want nothing more to do with me, for only that reason. So I started wearing that sign you mentioned so that they’d know up front who I was and if they couldn’t handle it, it was better to find out then rather than be hurt and spurned later by someone you’d grown close to as a friend(s). In days gone by it might have been “My god I didn’t know you were Jewish!” or “Is your father really black?” and a day later you’d stop hearing from them.