Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Feminine Gay Men, the Black Church, and Athletes Coming Out

It's really great to see Magic support his gay son on TMZ. It's safe to say that coming up in the world of sports, Magic probably wasn't exposed to the most progressive ideas about homosexuality. Not to mention his positive HIV status might have sparked questions about his heterosexual orientation.  Those sorts of experiences don't typically leed to deeper understanding and open-mindedness. Watching this interview I saw a genuine smile on his face when he talked about him. He wasn't just supportive of his son, he was truly proud of him.

I didn't really understand what the interview meant until I saw pictures and video of his son. Masculine gay men often take for granted the ability to be in the closet. As soon as I saw EJ I realized being in the closet wasn't an option for him. It must have been very scary to have his father come to him and ask him about his sexuality. It wasn't a given that Magic would still love and accept him the way that he does. If he weren't so obviously gay that conversation would have never happened. It's harder for the masculine gay men like myself to come out simply because we have to initiate the conversation, something that none of us really wants to do.

Is it easier for feminine gay men?

I thought it was harder for feminine gay men because they are always the targets of gay bashers. Even now that I'm out some hater isn't going to try me. At 6'3" and 320 pounds he wouldn't leave that fight without some serious injuries. Still, if I were feminine, someone stupid might try. After a few conversations I had some second thoughts. Fem gay men are safer to the straight community because they can't hide. I think if EJ had been as masculine as his father, or even hyper masculine and said in a deep rumbling voice "Yeah so what pops I like to fuck dudes, you got a problem with that?" I think Magic might have said yes.

It would have been very awkward for Magic if his son, who looked and acted a lot like him admitted he was gay. It seems like it would be an uncomfortable reminder the questions that surrounded Magic's sexuality when it was revealed he was HIV positive. Those questions were indeed, unfair and unwarranted, but they did exist. Masculine gay men will make any straight man have to have his sexuality unfairly questioned. Many gay men are not obvious, but a lot of the masculine gay guys stay in the closet so it feeds into this notion that we're all like EJ. In my experience, we're by far the majority of gay men. The gay guys I know are mostly just regular dudes. Not "straight acting" as some might call it, but just guys.

Would it be easier to accept a gay man who is obviously gay or someone like myself and the other contributors to this blog who are not as obvious? It's much more difficult for non-gays to accept and love gay people who just look and act like regular guys. When I came out I found out that some of my family thought it was a phase. "You don't even have a very strong fashion sense" like I'm supposed to be one of the Fab Five from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I had other people begging me to just have my male lovers on the side so I could still have a family. I don't think they believed that men who acted like me were really gay because all the gay men who acted like me stayed in the closet. With EJ there was no closet big enough to hide all that fabulousness.

Gay men and the black church

The black church has got to give up it's obsession with gay sex. Magic talks about his support for the black church in the interview and he admits that it's really the only place where the anti-gay ideas are still coming from. There are way too many families with gay children for this to last. I don't understand why Magic is still there as good a guy as he is, shouldn't this be the wake up call he needs? I can imagine a pious Christian with piercings, tattoos, and five children out of wedlock, wearing a poly-cotton blend shirt, eating a bacon cheeseburger with a side of shrimp, calling me an abomination against God without the slightest hint of irony. Not that I would take any moral advice from a book that condemns lobster and supports slavery as the best guide to moral reasoning, but at least be consistant with it. And why are you so concerned with where I put my dick anyway? There are many good reasons to go to church, but there are even better reasons not to go. This is one of them.

Dan savage talks about the bullshit in the bible directed at gay people and says we have to learn to give up the bullshit about shrimp, and dairy/meat combinations, and 700 plus other ritual laws, but this one seems to be one the Jesus freaks want to hang onto, This one thing, which Jesus never talks about, seems to be so important that whole sermons are devoted to it. Can you imagine how crazy it would be to hear an entire sermon about how bad shrimp is? Can you see the looks of confusion in the church goers as they try to figure out "what the fuck does shrimp have to do with anything?" Well that's exactly how we should look at people who talk about homosexuality in the context of religion. Magic this should be your cue to get up and leave, or at the very least speak up and tell the people around you to stop the bullshit. It's not just stupid, it hurts people.

Gays in Sports and it's impact on society

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said as many as four players could conceivably come out at the same time.

"I think it will happen sooner than you think," as quoted in The Baltimore Sun on Friday. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out."

"Of course, there would be backlash," Ayanbadejo said. "If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."

It was interesting to see that Magic was asked about this in the interview with TMZ. Of course he was supportive of players coming out and by no means am I playing it down since he's such a big figure in the sports world, but what did you think he'd say? It is a step in the right direction, but these players will not be very feminine. I don't think they will be as welcomed as Magic's son was simply because they will make straight people a lot more uncomfortable. Clearly people think it's ok for you to be gay as long as they can see it from a mile away. I hope I'm wrong though. If this coming out happens it could have a cascade effect throughout the athletic and social landscape as people see that it's pretty normal for a man to be gay and masculine.