Earlier this week, NBA player Jason Collins revealed that he was gay, making him the first openly gay active professional athlete. Unsurprisingly, this sparked a lot of feedback from all over the world of professional sports. However, many people aren't upset about the feedback, but the lack thereof.
NFL player Asante Samuel, the cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons, doesn't understand why Collins felt the need to come out.
"Straight people are not announcing they're straight, so why does everybody have to announce their sexuality or whatever? You know, what they prefer," Samuel says in an interview with FOX Sports Radio, "So that's just how I see it. That's my opinion on things. All respect you know, I have nothing but respect for the people whoever decisions they make and whatever, but you know, you don't have to show it and flaunt it like that. You know what I'm saying, we have kids out here, too."
Samuel's last comment seems almost homophobic. As if we need to shelter children the fact that people like to marry within the same gender.
WFAN talk show host Michael Francesa tells his audience he doesn't care about the Jason Collins story, "I have the story here and I'm not compelled to run and talk about it or read it. I really don't care. I can't be any more honest. I don't care."
The question is; was this statement a product of homophobia or was he simply implying that sexuality is not important when it comes to professional sports? Francesa makes no clear homophobic claims or implications. He calls the story "a dramatic attempt to sell a magazine" and claims that "they don't feel comfortable enough to come out, we now have to force them out." It's really hard to distinguish any implication other than what he was saying — he just doesn't care.
Francesa brings up a good point, why should we care? What should someone's sexuality have to do with their work? He's there to play basketball. Unless his sexual preferences affect his ability to play the game, it really shouldn't be made into such a spectacle. Jason Collins himself said in an interview with ABC, "It doesn't matter that you're gay. The key thing is that it's about basketball." It's not like the rest of the NBA has come out as straight. Maybe all this specialization is actually insulting to the LGBT community.
On the other hand, Collins said in an interview with ABC, "hopefully, going forward, I could be somebody's role model."
It's important to remember that a lot of gay teens struggle with their identities and with bullies. Having an openly gay NBA player might help kids and teens become more tolerant and might help gay teens feel more welcome in society. More importantly, Jason Collins does not fit in to the stereotype of a gay man.
"People like me are trying to rewrite [the gay] stereotype," Collins says.
An openly gay professional athlete will help fight stereotyping against the LGBT community.