So this week our FIRST NBA player came out as gay. Oh Hallelujah! A few people sent me links about this, that I should be just so pleased. Should I really be pleased that in 2013 an industry that has supported homophobia and perhaps encouraged a wee bit of misogyny has finally accepted ONE person who is gay or should I say allowed for ONE person being gay? A colleague of mine posted this on her Facebook that day: “things I give absolutely no sh*ts about today: athletes. gay athletes. gay athletes coming out of the closet. why? I’m really unfazed by unchecked athlete-worship, especially among folk who normally keep a close eye on institutions, athletic and otherwise, that promote and sustain racism, rape culture, and homophobia.” She has a point. Then a friend from college posted this article from BuzzFeed on Women Athletes.
And both their posts gave me pause.
Why is it whenever men do ANYTHING that is the RIGHT thing, they get all kinds of accolades? Let me list some: the dishes, parenting, crying, “helping out” at home, taking out the garbage without being asked, supporting women, speaking up for women, helping stop rape, coming out as a gay athlete. Women who are constantly trying to find balance in a world of inequality are rarely given any accolades. How many women get accolades for working their asses off in a professional career and raising children who then contribute to society? There should be a fucking prize for that. Especially if the other parent in the picture was one who had to be asked to do anything that really was in his original job description of a parent.
So maybe it is momentous that an athlete in the only sports that really get any attention in our culture, aka MEN’s sports, is out and gay. But what is the larger question here? I think it is about why professional athletic teams are only those that men are part of. Women’s professional sports exist on a very minimal basis. How many college women graduate hoping to continue to do their sport are left with minor league regional teams or the Olympics? Sure, the WNBA exists, but it exists and does not have the kind of support the NBA, the NHL, MLB or NFL does. Not even close.
This is one of those “so-called” momentous moments in life where instead I feel like I’m lying under a pile of rocks weighted down by the immense cultural changes needed in our culture from equality for women athletes, and even their basic representation to the ways in which women in this country will never achieve balance or stress free lives if they choose to have children. Never.
And as for Jason Collins, I hope you take some of that privilege as an NBA player and do it to help other gay young people of color be supported in their communities, their schools and their homes, regardless of whether they are athletes or are part of the theatre club.