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Openly Gay Athletes Break Stereotypes and Serve as Role Models

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The following quotes go to the heart of why gay athletes have trouble being honest with their teammates and why articles like this are necessary.

San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst: "Aww, hell no! I don't want any faggots on my team. I know this might not be what people want to hear, but that's a punk. I don't want any faggots in this locker room."

The Chicago Cubs pitcher Julian Tavarez, after being booed by San Francisco fans, said: "Why should I care about the fans? They're a bunch of assholes and faggots here."

After NBA star center John Amaechi disclosed he was gay, NBA player Tim Hardaway said: "First of all I wouldn’t want him on my team. and second of all, if he was on my team I would really distance myself from him because I don’t think that’s right and I don’t think he should be in the locker room when we’re in the locker room. Something has to give. If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."

Can you picture Hardaway as a helpless defenseless virgin while Amaechi had his way with him right there in the locker room and in front of his fellow team members too “worried” to come to his rescue? Can you imagine network television having to put an extra 30-second delay on a telecast just in case Amaechi decided in the middle of the game that Hardaway was so attractive that he might lose control and play grab-ass with him instead of making that crucial three pointer?

In the spirit of “you're damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” LeBron James expressed a problem with closeted gays on his team saying, "With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy. So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates — we all trust each other… It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."

John Amaechi

Englishman John Amaechi didn’t even take up basketball until he was 17 years old. It would be an understatement to say he’d entered the sport a little late in life, so people scoffing at his desire to be an American basketball star would be considered reasonable. Of course if you’d ever met the six-foot-10, 270-pound athlete in person, it’d probably lessen the shock of his latter achievements.

Among his considerable list of accomplishments by the time he’d turned 30, he’d crossed the Atlantic several times to become not only a famous European basketball star but also a well-known American one. The twice First Team Academic All-American for Penn State went on to become an undrafted NBA starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995-96. He also played in France and Italy. Amaechi is the only British player to be inducted into the U.S. Basketball Hall of Fame after incredible seasons in Cleveland, Orlando, and Utah.

Among the four major American sports, John is only the sixth pro athlete to talk openly about being gay and the only one so far within the NBA. Averaging 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds a game, Amaechi has proven that being a homosexual team player should be about as controversial as being left or right-handed.

Nowadays John is a British TV personality, helps run and fund the Amaechi Basketball Center in Manchester, and is a best-selling author for ESPN Books with his autobiography Man in the Middle.

In a way LeBron had a valid point a few paragraphs back. If you’re a team you should be able to trust each other with anything. A good example of how this actually helps a squad comes in the form of…

Brian Sims

After Sims left Bloomsburg University he became an unusual legend, as much for his athletic accomplishments as for the fact that unless you knew him personally you’d never believe he was gay. If any stereotype fit him it’d be a college jock. Conversation leaned toward the coming game, the opponents' strengths and weaknesses, which cheerleader might get lucky next, what professors he would like to sack in the parking lot, and where and when he wanted to turn pro. Sims was known for a lot of things, not the least of which was that he could bench press 225 pounds, not 10, not 20, but nearly 40 times. He was captain of their Division II football team playing defensive tackle, and at a hulking six feet tall and 260 pounds, he wasn’t exactly what you’d call your clichéd “faggot” by a long shot.

About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    In the next volume, I plan to cover more College athletes and women… stay tuned

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Great article Jet. I read a sports related article about gender bias today.

    Caster Semenya ‘treated like a leper’ claims head of South African athletics

    Caster Semenya and the Idiocy of Sex Testing

    “The idea that an 18-year-old who has just experienced the greatest athletic victory of her life is being subjecting [sic] to this very public humiliation is shameful to say the least.

    Her own coach Michael Seme contributed to the disgrace when he said, ‘We understand that people will ask questions because she looks like a man. It’s a natural reaction and it’s only human to be curious. People probably have the right to ask such questions if they are in doubt. But I can give you the telephone numbers of her roommates in Berlin. They have already seen her naked in the showers and she has nothing to hide.’ “

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Thanks Cindy, I appreciate your comment. I was expecting a lot of “What’s the big deal” comments, but you’ve brought up an important aspect of the subject.

    thanks

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    The true test of when these kinds of articles become unecessary will come when a straight man can summon the courage to convincingly tell his best friend that he’s gay, just to see what’ll happen and be as unafraid of the consequences as if he’d just said he was left-handed.

    You know, not so long ago in our culture it was considered evil by religious nuts in this very country to BE left-handed.

    Parents would actually train left-handed kids to use their right hand or be punished for it causing all kinds of psychological problems.

    Being right-handed, I’ve sometimes experimented trying to write with my left hand and found it insanely difficult… but not impossible. I’m sure with a lot of practice I could master left-handed writing, but my right hand will still automatically reach for that pencil when I need to jot something down no matter how practiced I become.

    Many gay men have mastered having sex with women, and many have been declared “cured” by the fundamentalist nuts… but I promise you, he has to stop reaching for a man with that other hand every day.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Good analogy. Isn’t it amazing that the nuts (religious, but there are enough other types) always think they know what’s right for other people. Things haven’t changed. The nuts* are still here. They’re in the majority. They just focus on different things than left-handedness.

    *It comes from being raised in a lunatic asylum, designed and implemented by others raised in the same asylum.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Indeed…

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    Jet, my generation is caring less and less about articles like this, which means that we are finally accepting people for, well, people

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Oh, then you’ve passed the test in #4?

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    My generation? I better go get some sassparelly for my lumbego!

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    LOL, if one of my friends told me that he was gay, then he is gay. That is it

    One of my good friends actually did that recently, granted, i expected it, but it didn’t phase me for a second

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Great news about Dumbledore, Jet. I didn’t know about that.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    You just never know Cindy, you just never know… :)

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Cindi, did you notice the r-rated photo of Billy Bean on my own blogs version of this article?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    No Jet. But, I figured out what you meant by ‘actors’. (you know, the guys with the unusual….ahem…)

    I didn’t think a person with my experience could be naive about such a thing. (and I recall asking you if they were a club! lol)

    But, I was just sitting here thinking that I now have a new admiration for J.K. Rowling. I was thinking, she has enough money now to be secure (unlike before she wrote the books)…and with all the howling about witchcraft from the religious fundies, she goes and announces that Dumbledore is gay. When I think about that, I have to imagine her laughing over the PR nightmare she’s just created. She has some power and she just used it, not for money, but for good. I just like that so much. It’s very uplifting.

    lol, I just realized you must have asked me that, about Billy Bean, for a reason. So, what was it?

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Because BB is a HUNK and I probably couldn’t publish that photo here

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    You are aware that I published the Dumbledore article here nearly two years ago right?
    Click here

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Jet,

    You know, I can’t find this article on your blog. But I did find that skating picture of BB. I am certain he is adorable. Even more so because you like him. :-)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    LOL, 2 years ago? Nope, I am afraid I am a dunce (not for the last time, I’m sure.)

    What a crazy world. I am amazed that people waste all their precious time on this crap. Then they’ll all be dust, having spent their life fighting Tinky Wink.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress barga

    I actually think that she made a mistake in talking about Dumbies preference. He was a character beyond humanity, in that regard, and so it kinda took away from him

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Sorry Cindi, It’s listed as “Famous Gay Athletes to be proud of Vol. II” in the table of contents.

    A lot of athletes when they first come out are offered tons of money to pose nude. I understand that in France there’s a calendar put out every year where straight and gay athletes compete to get into it as a prestige thing, and Australia (as in the case of Ian Roberts) in Vol. I it was no big deal.

    If the U.S. keeps getting more and more puritanical we’ll all being wearing burkas soon.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    You’re right, Dumbledore’s sex preference should be as important as if he’s left or right handed.

    How many people can be convinced of that?

    As for “your” generation being more liberal concerning gays, I don’t see a whole lot of gay rights legislation going through.

    Black civil rights took a century to go from slaves to equal rights and probably twice that long for a lot of southerners who fly rebel flags on their porches to accept it. Gays probably will have to wait twice that long.

    You can tell a person’s black by looking at them, not so with gays, so we’re evil.

    “You fear what you don’t understand…
    …you kill what you fear.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s ignorance for you.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Excuse my ignorance…. what is?

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress barga

    Jet,
    I don’t support gay rights legislation as I think it violates the 14th – targets an arbtrary group. Granted, I think that you are already covered under the 14th as well, so it is all good

    You know, your logic is exactly why blacks don’t support gay rights. This girl in class argued once that the 14th shouldn’t cover gays cause you guys haven’t struggled enough. I followed up with “it shouldn’t cover blacks, because, as a Jew, I don’t think you have struggled enough”. She didn’t get it

    My generation supports gay rights, for the most part, but the same way we accept all rights, inherent, and with no need for laws

  • Jordan Richardson

    blacks don’t support gay rights.

    WTF?

    My generation supports gay rights

    Except the “blacks,” right?

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Robert, I don’t know what Utopian part of the country you grew up in, but it sure’s hell wan’t here.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    …any you’ve obviously never tried to use the 14th to sue from “right” you thought it covered.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    “Your” generation must be well represented in the military, right Barga…

    SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following was released today by The Palm Center:

    Youth Radio reported today that former Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha was brutalized for more than two years at his base in Bahrain after unit mates first suspected that he is gay. The Navy promoted the Chief most responsible for the violence, even though Naval officials were aware of his role in creating the climate of abuse.

    Official Navy documents confirm that after Rocha’s unit mates first suspected that he is gay, they engaged in a two-year pattern of abuse including hog-tying him to a chair and pushing him, still bound, into a dog kennel full of feces. Rocha says that they forced him to simulate oral sex with a man more than thirty times, on video tape, as part of a training exercise to teach sailors how to respond to a hypothetical complaint about homosexual sex. And they hit him as hard as they could repeatedly while forcing him to bend over a desk. The documents are available at http://www.youthradio.org.

    Rocha was a military police officer with anti-terrorism training who graduated at the top of his military class, and who received favorable performance evaluations throughout his career. His unit mates first suspected that he is gay in 2004 when he refused to sleep with female prostitutes, a practice that was widespread at his base. Rocha did not report the abuse, which continued until 2006, because he feared retaliation as well as discharge under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” According to Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, “It is very hard for an organization to get rid of abuse as long as discrimination remains official policy.”

    After a colleague complained, the Navy launched an investigation, which concluded in 2007. Official documents from the investigation were obtained recently via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by one of Rocha’s unit mates.

    While Rocha was singled out and forced to endure the longest period of abuse, others were victimized as well. An official military summary of the investigation lists 93 incidents and types of abuse including throwing hard rubber balls at the groin, allowing a dog to attack a sex worker, and handcuffing two female sailors to a bed and forcing them to simulate lesbian sex while being videotaped.

    Since the launch of the investigation, the Navy has promoted Chief Michael Toussaint to the rank of Senior Chief. Toussaint was the petty officer in charge of Rocha’s unit, and perpetrated or presided over most of the abuse.

    Following his return from the Middle East, Rocha developed symptoms of PTSD. After acknowledging to his superiors that he is gay, he was discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell”

    Nah, gays don’t need any “special” protection do they?

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I’m still trying to figure out what generation he’s in that he’s so proud of Jordan…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Robert is a college student.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Oh… that explains it

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You guys are giving college education a bad name. You should say Robert is a sophomore.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    When I was a Senior, we used to “pants” sophomores and leave their garments hanging from the hall clock 30ft from the bathroom door where they were hiding.

    …ah the good ol days

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I should think so. The days of The Animal House are over. But even you missed that era.

  • doug m

    When did you guys start settling law by the “informed” opinions of college kids?

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    They’re cheap Doug, and they’re cute… well most of them anyway. What’d you think of the article?

  • doug m

    Good piece, jet. Hopefully more athletes can make enough FU money and come out and show people how normal gays are. I certainly think the trend is in favor of overall acceptance.

    I hope you don’t mind the criticism, but while you mention the media, I think a major component at issue is a large part of the sports-viewing audience is as much a problem as anything. The business and sponsors don’t want to turn off the people who pay the bills. Is it a coincidence an article about the needed acceptance of gays in sports isn’t in sports?

    The world needs more Branch Rickeys who are willing to put principle over profit.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Doug, I want to sincerely explain why this article isn’t in Sports, but I’ve been asked not to by the editors, so please let it rest.

    Suffice to say it wasn’t my idea.

  • http://delibernation.com/blog/3 Silas Kain

    Jet, great piece. We’ve come a long way in athletics but have so much further to go across the board. What an athlete accomplishes in his/her respective repertoire is the only thing that matters. What they accomplish in their personal life and in the privacy of their bedroom is just that – private.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Well Silas…. sorta private. When the “secret” gets out, suddenly it’s everyone’s business.

    Just because a man isn’t “asked” or doesn’t “tell” doesn’t mean he’s safe. Like the case when one of Brian Sims’ ex lovers informed his team.

    I also refer you back to comment #28

  • http://delibernation.com/blog/3 Silas Kain

    Problem is Jet that there remains a huge amount of self loathing within the LGBT community. What’s past is passed. We can’t do anything to make it up to those who have gone before us but learn. I’ve got no problem with a religion taking issue with one of their members for being gay. At that point it’s up to the individual to accept or reject dogma. Many theologians and historians believe that St. Paul was a self loathing homersexool. I don’t think that this particular term applies to his times. However, I do believe that Paul was fighting an inner battle which included his love for a particular slave. When one examines history and cultures it becomes quite clear that rampant abuse and oppression of gays really didn’t come significantly into play until the advent of Judaism followed by Christianity.

    But back to athletics. I’m certain you know the theories and whispers that up to 40% of professional footballers are fence hoppers. If they all came out at once it would make for great theatrics.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Silas, if that were true, sports writers all over this great land would faint, and Fred Sanford would stagger out of a door somewhere clutching his chest screaming, “It’s the big one ‘lizbeth… I’m coming for ya honey!”

  • http://delibernation.com/blog/3 Silas Kain

    Jet have your read David Kopay’s autobiography? It’s an eye opener. There are so many people in sports, news media, politics, etc. who are gay. Yet they haven’t the desire to come forward out of fear. That’s immoral. A thousand years from now historians will look upon these times as the end of the “Christian era” and the beginning of the true Age of Enlightenment. So all you die hard Christiopaths, put on your cute little Austrian costumes and start singing “So Long, Farewell”.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    By the way Doug & Silas, this is actually Vol. 2 of a series on my own blog entitled “How Many Famous Athletes are Gay” which can be found in the table of contents links on any page.

    It’s also the link to an article Doug, that is in the sports section here and there’s a link to it on page 7 of this article.

    Stay tuned for Vol 3 & 4 soon.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Yes Silas I have the hardbound edition and his story is covered in Vol I of this series… see above links

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    That and some of the pictures are a little racier than they are here…

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    oops the link is in page 6

  • http://www.davidmendes.com Dave

    Hi, Jet. I enjoyed reading this article. Very informative, without being sensational. I then moved on to reading your journal entries and felt great empathy for your plight and looked for an email address to use to get in touch to offer to help, but couldn’t find one. You’re welcome to get in touch with me through my website. Dave

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    My sincere thanks Dave… Jet

  • Monty O’Hair

    I like this. I grew up not allowing anyone to know about me. I grew up a Cowboys son, in a town of less than 300 ppl. I graduated MR.CHS, Best citizen boy, Whos Who, Englis Student, Was a Teen Leader, Head Photographer for the yearbook and news paper, and participated in Perswasive Speaking events all thru H.S, I am out now however I remember all the names, jokes, beat downs another student in our school had to go through. I know that had I been honest with everyone my life would have been better. I wouldnt have thought about taking my own life every day driving to school “you know this road is really bad, it wouldnt take much to just go over the side.” thats what I thought almost every day. I still face comments during sports. I just like to think of it as motivation. I am a gay man. I dont dress like a woman. I have beers with my brother and hang out with the family. My life is that of a 21 year old guy, however I look for a relationship with guy not a girl. I cant wait to read more about this…. Thank you