Friday, October 28, 2005

Locker Room Confidential


NYT sports columnist Selena Roberts' piece in today's paper, Homophobia Is Alive in Men's Locker Rooms, makes the excellent point that openly gay female athletes are great for the gay community, but until there are male equivalents, we still have a long way to go:

There is no diminishing the importance of each female athlete who publicly declares she wants to love freely in a homophobic culture, to live truthfully in a society divided biblically on gay rights. Somewhere, a girl may feel less alone and less of an outcast because someone like Sheryl Swoopes — a black woman — has further diluted the taboo. But where is the Oliver Cruise Line for a “Queer Guy on the Straight Team”? It is hard to know when no male team player dares to come out while still on the roster.

The stigma is still too much of a burden, still too dangerous. In male locker rooms, gay slurs are the ultimate insults to raging manhood. How is this for a support group: Over the past few years, Matt Millen, the president of the Detroit Lions, directed a derogatory term for gays at Chiefs receiver Johnnie Morton; the Giants’ Jeremy Shockey referred to Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells with a gay slur; and the Dolphins’ Junior Seau, upon accepting a leadership award, reportedly joked about wanting to tell his teammates that he loved them but added, with his own choice word, that he didn’t want to be labeled as gay.

Even the enthusiasm over Swoopes’ gay declaration is tempered — even in places like Outsports.com. In a lively message-board discussion, one respondent reflected a despair in waiting for the first male team star to step out. “Like it or not, the stereotype of homosexuality is attached to women’s sports while being detached from male athletics,” the person wrote. “Unfair though it is, the impact of a top male basketball player coming out would resonate so much more. I’d like to reiterate that I think this is wonderful news. And I hope her courage inspires others. But I don’t think it’s the big breakthrough the gay community is hoping for.”

It's a great column that's definitely worth a read. But I have just one question: You mean to tell me male locker rooms aren't there for gay sex?

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