Basketball Equality, Same Sex Marriage and other Media Minefields… Jason Collins, the first active (male) pro sports athlete to come out, pushes us to face our feelings about so much more than sports and sexuality…

by
dominique DiPrima
I’ve been meaning to sit down and blog about marriage equality for months. It is a topic I’ve had a definite opinion about since back in 1997 when I did a radio show on same-sex marriage and broadcast live from the gay mecca of West Hollywood. It was a festive show, complete with on air nuptials and free wedding cake for all. I almost got fired for doing that broadcast, after conservative Christian crusaders inundated the radio station with calls for me to be dismissed. Some listeners felt that I was out of the mainstream of African American opinion on the subject and did not deserve to represent us on the mic.

As I often do, I put people on the air who blasted me for my opinion, even as they accused me of suppressing it. It’s one of the basic ironies of talk radio. And I’m okay with it. I would have given Chris Broussard airtime, to share his view that gay people cannot be Christian even though I disagree with him 100%.

I knew exactly what former Packers Safety Leroy Butler was facing when he got axed from a speaking gig for his tweet in support of Jason Collins. And I guess it is the Jason Collins story that is finally prompting me to sit down and focus on this topic. I’m a little overwhelmed as I write because the subject is a true media minefield. So let me break down the issues, as I see them, one at a time.

1) Is Jason Collins a hero? He risked losing a lucrative NBA career and being rejected by his family and friends to tell the truth about who he is. I think that is heroic (even if there was a publicist somewhere urging him to be the first so he could go from “Jason who?” to headline overnight.) I give him credit for making life easier for other folks, especially young people who are struggling with the issues of their own sexual orientation, for blazing a trail
2) Are we sick of this story? I’m not. But I respect folks who are. I get it. The pack mentality of the media is off-putting. Is Collins the only, or even the most important hero of May 2013? Nope. Is there a kid somewhere sacrificing to feed his baby sister that is getting no media attention at all? Without a doubt.
3) Why does he have to tell us? I don’t announce that I’m straight! Sounds funny and right on when people say it, but…heterosexuals are the dominant group in this society. You are assumed to be straight unless proven (or rumored) otherwise. In other words you would face no penalty for announcing your sexuality, or even what you did with your girlfriend last night. Collins did get a lot of support and kudos, but it wasn’t guaranteed. And he has also taken a lot of flak. He had to tell us to break down a barrier and …read more