Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington called a co-star a faggot and ended up in rehab, while former basketball star Tim Haraway said he hated homosexuals and now his career as an ex-jock pitchman is on a cold slab. This will be remembered as the year the F-word became the new N-word and homophobic comments were no longer considered acceptable in polite company. To be sure, America has not endorsed homosexuality, but the new rules do mean celebrities will lose endorsements if they gratuitously bash homosexuals.
Of course, careers have crashed before as a result of anti-gay antagonism. After Anita Bryant crusaded against a 1977 gay rights measure in Miami, a boycott was launched and the orange juice queen fell off her throne. More recently, Dr. Laura's rampant homophobia, which included referring to homosexuality as a biological error, cost her a television show after a successful web campaign (www.StopDr.Laura.com) was launched targeting advertisers.
Unlike Anita Bryant, before angry GLBT advocates could spell boy...oh, boy was Hardaway tossed aside by the National Basketball Association. David Stern, the NBA's commissioner, immediately banished Hardaway from participation in the All-Star weekend activities. "We removed him from representing us because we didn't think his comments were consistent with having anything to do with us," Stern said. BaldGuyz, a company that makes grooming products for bald men, also scalped Hardaway by killing his endorsement deal.
Likewise, the Grey's Anatomy actor was on a shrink's couch examining the anatomy of his prejudice. Whereas gay people were once considered mentally ill, the world has been turned upside down and homophobes are seeking help to deal with their neurosis.
As we have learned with racial and religious minorities, the new public climate will not eliminate the cold private chill of discrimination. There will be winks, nods, glass ceilings and new code words to decipher. However, moving hateful words behind closed doors opens the closet door even further, greatly benefiting the GLBT movement. As adolescents hear less overt anti-gay rhetoric, it lessens the consequences of coming out, both emboldening and empowering the next generation. Ultimately, this translates into more out homosexuals, the number one defense against anti-gay bigotry.
If you think about it, fundamentalists vastly outnumber the GLBT community and our opponents have infinitely more financial resources. Yet, we are winning this culture war because coming out has unique transformational power that changes attitudes and minds. Most people will not reject their family members and friends who come out and are often willing to rethink their most basic assumptions and core beliefs.
As painful as the Hardaway incident was, his comments in response to former basketball player John Amaechi's coming out helped start a much-needed dialogue. Even more important than Hardaway's rebuke was the show of support Amaechi received from NBA mega-stars.
"If he was on my team, I guess I would have to protect him from the outsiders," said Shaquille O'Neal, center for the Miami Heat. "I'm not homophobic or anything...I'm not the type who judges people. I wish him (Amaech) well."
"When you have any teammate, you have to accept them for who they are," Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said. "If they're trying to win a championship, that's all that should matter."
"Maybe 10 years ago (people might be intolerant of a gay player)," Phoenix Suns star and league MVP Steve Nash said. "But in our locker room [now]? I think guys are over it. Guys are like, 'I don't care what you do.'"
There are still no "out" active male athletes on a major team sport. The show of support by some NBA superstars will make it easier for a brave player to take the big leap. This is one final barrier that is now one step closer to crashing down.
On a final note, it is pretty amusing how anti-gay offenders depend on gay people to resuscitate their careers. In the case of Washington, gay rights groups counseled him. For Hardaway, openly gay North Miami mayor Kevin Burns has invited him to meet his family. It is sort of queer eye for the homophobic guy. We take in some wretch and fix him up so he can be presentable to society.
While it will be difficult to believe Hardaway is sincere, I guess if Rev. Ted Haggard can be cured of homosexuality in three weeks, maybe Hardaway can be cured of homophobia in two.
John Amaechi was interviewed on Bill Maher last week. He comes across as a very articulate and forgiving man. (Love the British accent). The exact opposite of low-life Hardaway. Amaechi also said that locker rooms are the "gayest places", he would 'watch these guys primping and tweezing their eyebrows etc. and think to himself, and I'm the gay one?' Laugh...
posted by Anonymous, at
2/20/2007 12:36 PM
Cured of homophobia - yes - by Reparative Therapy for Homophobia!
Not in two weeks though. It may take Joseph Nicolosi's minimum stated period - two years. At his recommended two sessions a week (one group, one individual), and allowing a couple of weeks off per year, that comes to around $25,000.
Worth it, I'm sure! Especially considering the large mass of clinical evidence of safety and efficacy, published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals.......
posted by Phil, at
2/20/2007 12:58 PM
Maybe Truth Wins Out needs to start holding ex-gaybashers conferences six times a year in selected cities across America. There are a few I can think of who I'd like to counsel
posted by Jim Burroway, at
2/20/2007 6:55 PM
Saw you on Montel yesterday Wayne--good job! Gary (NJ)
posted by Anonymous, at
2/21/2007 9:15 AM
Seattle Times editorial:
The True Face of Homophobia
Last week, Tim Hardaway declared his hatred of gay people. Gay people should be thankful.
Let me tell you a story. It's about a man named Bull Connor. In 1963, he was the police commissioner of Birmingham, Ala. Back then, Birmingham was pleased to be considered the most segregated city in the South. Then, civil-rights demonstrators under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. came to town. Connor directed the city's response.
When you see those famous images of dogs attacking unarmed marchers and firefighters directing high-pressure hoses at men and women singing freedom songs, you are seeing Connor's work. He was a hateful cuss, but there was a useful purity in his hate: The sheer violence of his response to the civil-rights movement brought international condemnation and irresistible pressure for change.
Segregation was, for many people, still socially respectable in that era. Politicians defended it with honeyed euphemisms like "state's rights," and preachers assured their flocks that it was God's will. So you could be a segregationist and still feel good about yourself, still feel moral.
Connor inadvertently made that impossible. How moral can you feel when a guy is loosing dogs on children in your name? Connor stripped segregation naked. He made people face it for what it was.
Hardaway, a retired jock who once started at guard for the Miami Heat, did the same thing for gay-bashing last week. No, he didn't turn dogs or hoses on anybody. But he surely stripped homophobia naked.
Asked during a radio interview by my Miami Herald colleague Dan LeBatard for a comment on John Amaechi, a former NBA benchwarmer who recently came out of the closet, Hardaway did not have the brains to lie or deflect the question. Nope, he was blunt as a brick.
"I hate gay people," he said, "so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
Any questions? Me neither.
There is something bracing in the matter-of-fact clarity of Hardaway's declaration. He cut through the clutter of weasel words and half-truths that traditionally surrounds homophobia, showed us what lies behind honeyed euphemisms ("traditional values"), and claims to speak for God.
"I hate gays," he said. Period, end of sentence. The statement had to it the same flat clarity of Bull Connor, straw hat on his head, cigar clenched in his teeth, siccing dogs on children.
No, Hardaway isn't the first person to speak so stridently against gays. The lunatic Fred Phelps comes to mind. Still, you could always ignore Phelps precisely because he was a lunatic. Hardaway is not. He is, or always seemed, a decent guy. Which makes his words all the more hurtful.
He has apologized, of course, but that surely has more to do with universal approbation and the loss of lucrative endorsement deals than any true change of heart. Anyway, that's his business.
Ours is this: Like segregation before it, homophobia is, for many people, still socially respectable. So one hopes that one byproduct of Hardaway's outburst is that it will become less so. That we will be forced to face it for what it is. It would be a nice change.
So often, we use words to distance ourselves from what we feel, to hide our true meaning, even from ourselves. Hardaway used words to say exactly what he felt and it is possible to abhor what he felt and yet, appreciate that he does not make you guess or infer.
Think again of Connor, screaming obscenities under an Alabama sun. To hear him, to hear Hardaway, is to know that you have finally come down to it, finally met the beast that lives behind euphemism and weasel words.
It is ugly, but it is also, at long last, truth.
posted by Anonymous, at
2/21/2007 6:25 PM
It's illogical. I do not understand racism or sexism. It's totally illogical. There is no conceivable reason on earth to hate someone you don't know. There is no conceivable reason on earth to make someone feel like a second class citizen. It's completely illogical. If bigots want to base their idealology on illogical ideals let them. Hardaway has proved that they suffer in the end. Isiah washington is proving likewise. Get some education, broaden your minds, open your hearts.
posted by jekelhyde, at
2/21/2007 7:53 PM
That's a thoroughly brilliant piece of writing above, by Anonymous. Hey, Anon, if you haven't already done so, think of submitting that essay to your local paper or community news mag. Great job!