Some minor history was made a few days ago when an active NBA player came out of the closet. 34-year-old Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards admitted he was gay to the media, and the response thus far has been mostly positive. Presidents, both current and former, along with celebs and other notables have publicly given their support to Collins after his announcement.
Some have questioned why it should even be news that an NBA player is gay. Of course, it's news because of the context of the world we live in, wherein many who are gay or lesbian still feel uncomfortable with being open about who they are, and with gay marriage still being a hot button issue in many states and countries. It's news because we don't live in a perfect world, in which a person's sexuality shouldn't really matter.
And while I'm heartened by the vast outpouring of support for Collins, I am disheartened by the response to Collins's naysayers, notably the reaction to some remarks made on ESPN by one Chris Broussard. A self-described Christian, Broussard's issues boil down to that of Collins's lifestyle not fitting-in with his (Broussard's) view of Christianity. Money quote:
Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin. If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.
Of course Broussard is typical of many Christians, picking and choosing the items from The Bible that suit his view of the world best, and ignoring the other bits that don't fit with his own lifestyle. It's not good, but lots of people do it, so it's a common issue. And while it's mildly annoying, I can't say that his remarks are all that dander-raising. Compared to some other hellish verbiage that has been tossed our way, I'd say that homosexuality got off pretty easily here.
And there's the rub.
Broussard has been labeled a "bigot," a "homophobe" and many other incendiary words, pretty much for expressing his opinion. Honestly, that's a shame. I think it speaks less of us when we react in such a way. When he came out so publicly, Jason Collins was opening himself up to scrutiny. And it's a diverse world out there. Not everybody thinks it's great to be gay. They have a right to their opinion, and, yes, to voice it if the context is right. I believe it was right on this occasion.
When somebody whose main claim to fame is that he plays professional basketball decides to go public about his private life, then he invites a wider discourse about said private life, good and bad. As long as it doesn't get violent or threatening (and it didn't in this case), then said discourse should be able to proceed along without resorting to name-calling and hateful retorts.
I get upset when a vote on gay marriage doesn't go my way. I get angry over the fact that others can vote on my marriage rights (or lack thereof), and that it's seen as OK to do so. I despair when others consider my life to be sinful because of who I love and have sex with. But, you know what? I get even more angry and upset when I see supposedly tolerant people that embrace diversity go off on a guy for expressing an opinion that they disagree with.
We're better than that, surely?