BY CANDY PARKER
I’m not terribly happy right now. In fact, one might be able to classify me as bordering on furious at the present moment, a rare state for this easygoing Libra.
Why am I on the verge of spitting nails? Well, I’ll tell you – I’ve about had it up to here (insert mental image of me with my right hand, palm down, extended just above my head) with middle-aged straight guys, in the form of sports radio talk show hosts and bloggers, whining about “thought police” and the “LGBT mafia” and “bullying” in the context of discussing Michael Sam, the reaction to his being selected in the NFL draft and the resulting disciplinary actions taken against high-profile sports figures who spoke out against the move via social media.
I just ran out to get lunch and heard yet another sports radio talk show host bantering with his guest, a FOX sports blogger, carping about how the world has become so politically correct that people can’t even say what they think anymore. What a terrible world it is we live in when people can be fined, fired or publicly taken to task for merely voicing their opinion! Shouldn’t we all be scared to live in a world where corporations and monopolized organizations like the NFL and NBA can squelch the personal beliefs of their employees?
The not-good-enough-to-play-so-I-write-and-talk-about-sports twins went on to compare the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones’ tweets following Sam’s on-screen kiss with his boyfriend (“OMG” and “Horrible” – that Jones is an eloquent and loquacious fellow, after all) to someone voicing an opinion about gun ownership or the legalization of marijuana. If Jones doesn’t want to see two dudes kissing on television shouldn’t he be able to say that? Shouldn’t people be able to speak up if they believe drugs should be legal or that the right to bear automatic weapons in Chipotle is inalienable? (Don’t even get me started on the yahoos who did that over the weekend!)
The always-picked-last-for-kickball duo went on to extoll the virtues of free speech and the importance of open discourse in society. Isn’t that how we solve our problems? Shouldn’t we be discussing our differences in order to reach agreement? For a brief moment, I think I may have even heard American flags gently flapping in the wind as it swept over amber waves of grain.
Of course, the guest made a point of mentioning that he was Libertarian in his views on gay rights or, more specifically, gay marriage. Hey, if those gay people want to get married, then we should go ahead and let ‘em. The ol’ “Hey, I’m not prejudiced; I have black friends”-like disclaimer. (I personally find these types maddening as they’re typically the ones claiming they’re “fine with the gays,” but don’t think we need any “special rights,” having failed to actually familiarize themselves with the actual issues at hand.)
But what these guys don’t get is that talking about my basic rights to be treated like a human being isn’t the same as talking about whether or not someone should be able to spark up on the street corner or own a grenade launcher (solely for hunting purposes, of course).
Yes, there should be public discourse and sharing of opinions regarding matters such as legalized marijuana, gun ownership, abortion, taxes, religion and any countless number of other controversial topics. If an NFL player wants to hop on Twitter and tweet “Taxes suck” then by all means let him. (He certainly won’t get any argument from me on that one.)
But what all the middle-aged straight guys on sports radio don’t understand is that when someone like Jones tweets “Horrible” or when former Ole Miss hoopster Marshall Henderson tweets “Boycotting sportscenter til this michael sam nasty ass s—t is off…My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!!! #sickening” what is really being said is “I hate gay people.”
And when people say that they hate gay people, what they’re really saying is that they don’t think gays should have the right to marry; that it’s OK for people to be fired from their job simply for being gay; that they’re all for allowing businesses to discriminate against gays; and, in some of the more extreme cases, that they don’t believe gays have the right to live. And none of that is OK.
If you’re among those bashing us “thought police” types, try substituting the word “black” for the word “gay” in the prior paragraph and see how offensive it sounds. Ooooh, so that’s what we’re all upset about! (If only it were that simple to persuade them, huh?)
If a white NFL player had commented on an image of African-American NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III kissing his white wife by saying, “I don’t want to see that nasty ass n—-r kissing a white woman on ESPN!!! #hanghimhigh” I’d venture a guess that the NFL would have acted swiftly in fining, suspending and/or sending said ignorant white player to “sensitivity training.” So why is it so unreasonable to expect the same in the instances of anti-gay remarks? Answer me that, Mr. middle-aged straight guy sports radio talk show host and blogger!
What it comes down to quite simply is one word – discrimination.
Just because marijuana isn’t legal everywhere doesn’t mean it’s being discriminated against. And just because every gun hasn’t yet found a home doesn’t mean it’s being discriminated against either. It’s OK to voice your opinions “for” or “against” such things. Heck, you can even be for some types of guns and against others; I don’t care. And you can be pro-medical marijuana, but anti-recreational marijuana – tweet away about such things and be as self-contradictory or irrational as you choose. We in the “LGBT mafia” won’t care.
But note that we are not “things;” we are people. And it absolutely isn’t OK to discriminate against people or to be “for” some and “against” others simply because their DNA differs from yours.
You know what’s most remarkable about all of this is that while we’ve made it illegal in this country to discriminate against items that are simply “beliefs” (e.g., religion), we have yet to make it illegal from coast to coast to discriminate against people for simply being born with a given genetic composition. Sure, we took care of it in regard to skin pigmentation (at least from a legal standpoint), but we have yet to do the same for those born with the gay gene.
So middle-aged straight guy sports radio talk show hosts and bloggers, I’m sorry. The world it is a-changin’. It’s not OK to use the “n-word” anymore, wives aren’t the only ones cooking dinner and taking care of the kids these days and it’s not alright to discriminate against the LGBT community either. We’re here, we’re queer and we’re demanding our inalienable rights as human beings. If that makes us “bullies,” so be it. (Actually, we know it doesn’t make us bullies and we’re amused by your attempts to misappropriate the word in an effort to bolster your feeble argument.)
We’re not trying to squash anyone’s right to free speech or stifle open discourse. But our rights are not subject to debate, and, yeah, we’re going to be a little sensitive about the whole thing until it is no longer legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians (and all the other initials in LGBTQIA) in regard to employment, housing, marriage, business services or in any other fashion.
You have to understand that we’re not trying to change minds, we’re trying to change laws and, as I’m sure the African-American community can tell you, the former is far more difficult to affect than the latter. So the small-minded can hate us all they want; we realize that’s not changing any time soon. But just know that we’ll likely be much more tolerant of bigoted rants and social media posts once our rights are fully protected under the law.
So, middle-aged straight guy sports radio talk show hosts and bloggers, do you get it now?