I’m not going to try to format and edit this tonight. I’m a blogger. Bloggers gotta blog.
Jason Collins came out this week, declaring he is both black and gay. I already knew he was black, mostly because I spent years watching his twin brother Jarron be not as good as I wished he would be playing for the Utah Jazz. So figuring out the black part was easy for me, as it usually is easy to tell when you see someone who chose to be black.
It’s not as easy to tell with someone who chose to be gay. I mean, now that Jason Collins has been in enough men’s locker rooms to decide he is a gay man, will he start running up and down the court with his palms out? Will he be sassy with snappy one-liners in post-game interviews? Will he waive a huge Puerto Rican flag when his team wins?
My guess is he probably won’t do those things, because he didn’t decide to suddenly be gay. In fact, he probably never decided to be gay. You know how I know? Because I never decided to be straight. Sex with men never even crossed my teenage mind as a potential option. To paraphrase a friend of mine, “If you think being gay is a choice because at some point in life you had to make that choice…you’re probably gay.” --JM
Someone I consider a great friend shared this image with me:
Now, this was not actually tweeted by Tim Tebow. It is a phony Twitter account that has been picked up by the anti-gay movement as a way to complain about the totally unfair way Christians are persecuted in this country while “the gays” meanwhile, are throwing their gayness in our face everywhere we look.
I have a problem with this tweet. Tim Tebow is about 3 billion times more famous than Jason Collins, and EVERYONE knows Tim Tebow is super Christian. You know how we know? Because he puts his Christianity on display every chance he gets. He puts bible verses on his eye patch. He quotes the bible in press conference interviews. He gets endorsement gigs based on his faith.
Most importantly, let’s not forget his public prayers. The image of Tebow kneeling in prayer has become so common, “Tebowing’ became a thing.
There was once a guy who was almost as righteous as Tim Tebow. One day, he was giving a talk to some of his followers while they sat on a hillside. Speaking on the subject of prayer, he said:
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
It’s no Shakespeare, but I think it’s pretty good stuff (just make sure that when you finish praying in your closet, you don’t accidentally come out of the closet).
Anyway, the tweet above is probably true. If Jason Collins plans to prance to center court before every game to make out with his boyfriend, and thanks his gay friends every time he scores a basket, and tells the media that being gay is what helped him win each game, yeah, we’re all going to get a little fed up hearing about his being gay.
Secondly, Jason Collins IS a hero. Just like Jackie Robinson was the first black man in baseball, Jason Collins is the first openly gay athlete in a major sport. Hopefully, his actions will inspire other closeted athletes to come out without fear of what it might do to their careers.
No, Collins is not the superstar Jackie Robinson was. No, there is no rule prohibiting gays in major sports. But let’s face it; this is a big story because of the step forward in society it could represent. It could lead to more tolerant adults, and tolerant adults trickle down to tolerant children.
My father taught me an important lesson growing up. My dad and I share a passion for the music of Elton John. I knew growing up that Elton John was gay. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew it didn’t matter. As long as the stereo in my dad’s old Datsun pickup kept cranking out Tiny Dancer, Candle in the Wind, I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues, Rocketman, Daniel, Levon, The One, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and Pinball Wizard, we didn’t care about the gay thing.
And that’s how it’s got to be in sports. Sports can lead the way. I have a dream that one day, my three children will be judged not for their sexual orientation, but by the measure of their vertical leap. And on that day, we will all join hands and sing together in that homosexual spiritual, “Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and me!”