Letter to the Editor,
In response to the Opinion piece, “Athlete’s Coming Out Merely Political, Unnecessary for Fans,” the writer is missing the big picture of why Collins and Sam “coming out” is a very courageous act in sport. It has nothing to do with politics or sports fans; coming out was for them and their quality of life. The writer contends that “We live in an overwhelmingly tolerant country. Jason Collins faced no opposition for his announcement of being gay and neither have the likes of Ellen DeGeneres….” The truth is, we do not live in an overwhelmingly tolerant country. There is still heterosexism, homophobia, racism, and sexism ingrained in the fabric of American society and visible in all media outlets. If our country WERE overwhelmingly tolerant, gay and lesbian couples would have the right to marry and have equal protection under the law like 90 percent of U.S. citizens do. If our country WERE overwhelmingly tolerant of gay and lesbian people, it would not have taken until 2013 for a current male athlete in a major sport to come out as gay. In addition, when Ellen DeGeneres came out, she experienced such discrimination and homophobia that her first TV show was cancelled the very next season and she could not find work until she started her own talk show five years later. Just like Collins and Sam, she just wanted to be honest about who she was. It is a courageous act for anyone to come out, let alone someone in the public’s eye. It opens that person up to harassment, discrimination, and even violence. The fact is, locker rooms and playing fields are a haven for anti-gay language and sentiment and people who are heterosexual do not have to face this ignorant behavior. Esera Tualo, a retired football player, spoke on our campus last year about being a closeted gay man in the NFL. He shared the many difficulties he faced by hiding who he was and living in fear. Collins and Sam are very brave for fighting against the stigma of being gay in a profession that touts heterosexuality and masculine dominance. They chose to come out before the media could out them. And they chose to come out so they can live their lives honestly and authentically in their personal lives and at work.
The discussion around religion does not lend well to this commentary. But since it was brought up- the writer included one quote by a person who is giving his personal opinion. There are many religions, and people who are Christian, that do not view being gay or lesbian in the way that Broussard does. Consequently, it is up to each person to reconcile one’s beliefs on religion and sexual-orientation; noting, that each of us are human and need to be treated with dignity, equality, and respect.
President’s Commission on
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation