Out of the last closet

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It got pretty well buried in the last-minute election madness, but Sups. David Campos and Christina Olague did a very cool thing Oct. 31 -- they helped create some press, and some possible national buzz, for a small San Francisco organization that's taking on a very big issue.

The Last Closet is trying to get someone -- anyone -- in the senior hierarchy of male professional sports to talk about homophobia and the fact that there are no out gay men in any of the five major pro sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer). When Olague and Campos held a press conference to introduce a resolution endorsing the group's aims, it got at least passing mention on sfgate. And that's a start.

Everyone knows there are gay men in the NFL, and in the NBA, and in MLB, and on the ice playing professional hockey. Yet even in 2012, when retired tough-guy athletes can talk about homophobia and the need for equality, not one active player has come out of the closet.

Who cares? Well, if you're a young LGBT person involved in sports, you care -- and you care a lot. Middle-school and high-school locker rooms (male locker rooms, particularly) are still pretty homophobic places and can be scary for gay kids. And there's nobody for them to see as a role model.

As Campos told me, "What I was with the San Francisco Giants, all the Latino players, was such a source of pride to Latino boys and girls. We can't feel that in the LGBT community. We know there are gay baseball players, but the LGBT youth don't have those rold models to look up to."

Not that sports figures are great role models, but still: One badass NFL player -- I envision a linebacker -- comes out, and a generation of LGBT youth can say: He's gay. He's tougher than any of you assholes who are teasing me.

And it would change lives.

All the Last Closeters want right now is for the commissioners of the five major sports to speak out, to make a statement, to say that out gay players would be welcomed and protected in their leagues and that homophobia would not be tolerated. Doesn't seem like much to ask.

And yet: Not one will do it.

Maybe Larry Baer can bring it up at the next owner's meeting.

 

Comments

Campos should worry less about getting the "conversation" started and more about the "conversation" he's going to need to have with SF voters in 2014 when he runs for Leno's seat after Leno is elected to Pelosi's seat. And Olague should start having conversations with potential employers about giving her ass a j-o-b. Right AFTER she gets back from her sojourn in Oslo of course.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

Regardless of what conversations politicians need to have about their employment, it was not a meaningless gesture on their part to take part in the creation of this resolution. Have you read it Troll II?
This resolution will be a model for other cities and counties who host major league teams. The intention is to get the attention of the sport hierarchy and to request that they speak (on camera) about what has been a taboo subject for them.
There are young LGBT youth who would benefit greatly by having a gay pro sports hero. Mr. Redmond was eloquent enough about this in this article to not have to repeat it. Why in the world do you see that as inconsequential?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

Regardless of what conversations politicians need to have about their employment, it was not a meaningless gesture on their part to take part in the creation of this resolution. Have you read it Troll II?
This resolution will be a model for other cities and counties who host major league teams. The intention is to get the attention of the sport hierarchy and to request that they speak (on camera) about what has been a taboo subject for them.
There are young LGBT youth who would benefit greatly by having a gay pro sports hero. Mr. Redmond was eloquent enough about this in this article to not have to repeat it. Why in the world do you see that as inconsequential?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

to do anything is anathema to me. The job of a sports team is to play a game and win. Period. This isn't East Germany or China where sports was used to further the goals of the "people's democracies." I'm all for gay acceptance but in the end this is a societal issue completely unrelated to whether a municipality passes a "resolution" or not.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

have to include women, or have quota's by race.

They should butt out.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:38 am

I bet the 49ers are really relieved that they moved to Santa Clara, beyond the reach of the SF city council.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:07 am

... and Troll II is what it is.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:24 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:55 am

Easy for you, I suppose, to arrive at that false conclusion based on my statement.

If I identified a knife as the weapon in a murder, you'd claim I hate knives; if I added mention of the hardship of burn victims, you'd say I think everyone should eat raw food and bite it into little pieces with their teeth.

Sports are great. Real life theater. I've already weighed in on this. Baseball in particular is a sport which allows for intellectual as well as physical engagement by fans and players alike.

I remember hearing Noam Chomsky remark how whenever he was traveling he'd like to tune in to listen to sports radio. He said he particularly enjoyed hearing Americans expound with nuanced authority and confidence on such matters as who should be quarterback and such; an attitude which is almost completely lacking with regard to politics.

What great practice it is for democracy.

I do question the way that high pay for athletes is always trotted out as a significant socioeconomic problem -- as opposed to the ridiculously high income of those who make a career of vandalizing our economy... precious.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:35 am

Yes, lilli, any time that you take issue with anything a troll says, then you hate everything that the troll stands for or likes. It is very simplistical.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:59 am

Right now, I'm hating on this word. Dude, check out a grammar book before you open your pie hole.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

work on.

Also, though I can't say I agree with everything marcos writes, he's established a mastery of grammar that is *far* above the norm -- and even further above your own "I'm hating on this word" for crying out loud! -- that I'd very much like to see you take your own advice.

iowstfu

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

You're hating on this word because it is stuck ricocheting around between the thick walls of your head and I put it there.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

In that case, let's stop using public funds to build them stadiums. Or give them special exemptions on permits. After all, this isn't East Germany.

Posted by CitiReport on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:47 am

extra revenues they get from having a pro sports team resident.

Why else do you think they do it?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:57 am

Partnerships, like the one between the Giants and the city for AT&T Park or for the new Warriors arena - are great examples of public-private infrastructure improvements we need more of.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 11:57 am

The comment is exactly the kind of childish bullying that the resolution seeks to challenge. Thanks for the live demonstration of infantile mental paralysis.

Posted by CitiReport on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:46 am

So what you're saying is you want someone to do what the You Can Play Project is already doing? Which features a prominent hockey general manager in Brian Burke among its founders? They've got hockey teams, soccer teams, college teams...all sharing the same message, "If you can play the game, you're welcome on our team." And Soccer in particular has sent a pretty strong message - they just suspended a player 3 games (the rest of his team's season) for uttering a gay slur on the field during a game.

As a bisexual woman who spent all too long hiding in the closet, I'm all for seeing an active athlete come out and be that role model. I'm not holding my breath it'll happe anytime soon, but I still look forward to it, regardless.

But seriously, give credit where it's due. YCP is an awesome organization, and they deserve serious kudos for what they have accomplished already.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

You Can Play IS an awesome organization and is doing great work to help end homophobia in men's pro sports. Thank you Patrick Burke for taking the lead on this. As in all social movement work there is some overlap, but usually there are different primary goals. One of the goals of YCP is to have players accept their teammates for who they are. They are accomplishing these goals incrementally and hopefully successfully.
The Last Closet seeks to enable the first out pro athletes in the history of US sports to come out publicly while they are actively playing. Both of our organizations want this and are working towards this inevitability.
One of the ways we want to accomplish this is by having the sports hierarchy speak out. The Last Closet is asking the sports leaders to take the lead (commissioners, owners, sports agents, managers, etc.) Our first campaign asks the commissioners to answer two questions ON CAMERA - Will you invite your gay players to come out? And What safety nets will you have in place for them once they do? Not one of the commissioners has agreed to speak on camera. We need to keep encouraging them to do so.
The city of San Francisco sees that young lives are at stake here and has taken the bold step to create a resolution that brings attention to the matter. We don't see how this is anything but good.

Posted by The Last Closet on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:14 am

Chris and Brendon have been at the forefront of the issue of LGBT acceptance in professional sport locker rooms because they actually work and spend many hours each day with teammates there, many of whom are not so comfortable with LGBT issues. Chris is a punter with the MN Vikings and Brendon is a linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens.

It's easy to tell other people how to live - obviously colored by our own blinded sense of what's appropriate - which is why most grown-ups stay away from telling other people how they should live or act. We set examples by doing, not telling.

But it's especially difficult to tell co-workers and family members they should change behaviors since these relationships are not really consensual. We can't choose any employer to hire us, thus we can't choose our co-workers nor do they choose us. And we don't choose the family we're born into. People are thrown together in work and family realtionships with a high degree of happenstance. Thus, when we hear people we have no real connnection with tell us to believe this or that, or to act this way or that, it grates on our sense of self and who we are and who we want to be.

That's why the work of Chris and Brendon is so fantastic since they've brought the sensitive issues of LGBT acceptance into the NFL locker rooms without creating a huge negative backlash from an employee group that tend to have very strong egos and often a high degree of machismo.

From the NY Times article linked below:

"In late August, the Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote to the Baltimore Ravens’ owner, Steve Bisciotti, urging him to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. Ayanbadejo had been supporting the state’s Civil Marriage Protection Act, which will allow gay couples to obtain a civil marriage license beginning Jan. 1 if it passes a Nov. 6 referendum. (It passed, 52-48%.) Burns asked Bisciotti to “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.”

“I know of no other N.F.L. player who has done what Mr. Ayambadejo is doing,” Burns wrote, misspelling Ayanbadejo’s surname.

A week or two after hearing about the letter, Chris Kluwe wrote a response to Emmett Burns and posted it on-line for all of his NFL co-workers and everyone else to read,

“This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom?” he wrote. “Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life?”

The letter is a profanity-laden rant, as well as a multilayered, point-by-point decimation of Burns’s argument, so insidiously thorough that Burns waved the white flag two days later in an interview with The Baltimore Sun in which he said, in effect, “Never mind.” ....

“The guy’s got a way with words,” Rush Limbaugh said of Kluwe on his radio show. ...

Kluwe said: “It was funny because it felt like a sign of the apocalypse that Rush Limbaugh and whoever it was from the far left end of the spectrum were both congratulating me. Are pigs flying overhead now?”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/sports/football/punter-chris-kluwes-vo...

And summary of same sex marriage outcomes in recent election:

"For the first time, same-sex marriage was legalized by voters.

"In Maryland, Maine, and Washington State, voters passed such referendums. The referendums in Maryland and Washington cleared the way for same-sex marriage to take effect after the respective state legislatures passed bills to authorize it.

"The referendum in Maine is perhaps more surprising, since voters there used a “people’s veto” just a few years ago to override legislative authorization of same-sex marriage. But now, they’ve reversed themselves and made Maine the ninth state to allow same-sex marriage. And Minnesota voters did not approve a referendum to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional. This was, interestingly, the very type of measure that thirty other states have passed, most by overwhelming majorities, in the last decade or so."
http://verdict.justia.com/2012/11/13/an-historic-first

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

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