After Jason Collins came out, many of his teammates and fellow athletes showed an overwhelming amount of support for the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major American sport. Everyone from Kobe Bryant to Michelle Obama showed their support for the courageous basketball player who has now famously said: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
As he received news of Jason Collins' coming out, NFL receiver for the Miami Dolphins Mike Wallace, didn't send heartfelt tweets, but preferred to ask why anyone would want to "mess around" with other men when there are so many "beautiful women in the world." To which the obvious answer is well ... because ... he's gay? Not sure how to better explain that one to you, Mike.
The tweets were later removed, and Mike Wallace tweeted an apology last night:
The Miami Dolphins immediately dived into damage control mode and issued a statement:
"Mike Wallace has apologized for his comments, and we have addressed the matter with him. Mike's comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization. We will address the entire team about our policy of inclusion and make sure they all understand the importance of respecting individual choices."
Judging by some of the shameless homophobia that's been spreading online, some are saying that Mike Wallace's comments could have been much worse. Nonetheless, his ignorant tweet shows just how insidious homophobia can be. He doesn't need to proclaim that homosexuality is a mental illness to contribute to a hostile environment for gays and lesbians. It's one thing to ask questions about something you know nothing about, and another to publicly suggest that any deviation from an established norm is incomprehensible.
Gay people who reveal their true-selves to the world shouldn't be met with misapprehension. They should be met with acceptance. Anything else than that feeds homophobic discourses that make it difficult for them to come out in the first place. Let's give everyone the right to be who they are. Let's give everyone their equal chance to shine.
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