I haven’t blogged in a while, and I apologize for that. I’ve been hard at work on a couple projects.
So, Jason Collins. Wow! That was a beautiful article. I’m proud of Jason and appreciative of his courage. It’s been 12 years since I wrote the article by which I came out at ESPN.com and asked “what if” an athlete were to come out. Now we know some of the answers.
Mostly no one’s head exploded. Mostly earth continues to spin on its axis. Some go so far as to call this a “non story,” but I think those people are kidding themselves. As I say in my essay, “Being gay in sports shouldn’t be a big deal, but until someone does it publicly and shows they can do their job, do it well, and be known as gay, it simply will be a big deal. Before we can say it doesn’t matter, we have to accept the fact it exists.”
By far the best essay I’ve read on the subject came from author and generally awesome human Sherman Alexie. His take on the shower situation is both hilarious and heart warming. It’s also dead on, and in some ways more honest than my own take, a decade ago, on the “dreaded shower argument.”
If I had to write that piece again, I might change it some. It is still true that when I was a reporter in professional sports locker rooms, I was the guy staring at the ceiling while players changed out of or into their clothes. I was trying to do my job, and I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by being a perv and staring.
But I might be a bit more honest about the entire shower issue. It still bugs me when people argue that this is a major issue, because I don’t think it is. But I would admit that perhaps once in a while I have “snuck a peek” while showering in a locker room. I’m human. I’m not attracted to all men, but to the perhaps 5-10% of men to whom I am attracted, yes, I’ve sometimes looked. I can control myself, but heck, wouldn’t you look too, if you were a straight man showering with a woman you found attractive?
My point, and Alexie’s point as well: So what? Why is that such a big deal? Why is it an affront to any man to be looked at? Attractive women have been looked at by men for centuries. Leered at, even.
Could it be that for some men, the concern is NOT being looked at? That they might not be as attractive to openly gay men as they’d like to be? Not from a sexual standpoint, but from a self-esteem standpoint?
I have to wonder. Because if I had to shower with a bunch of openly straight women, and they weren’t ogling my middle-aged bod, I might be a little hurt. Not for the lack of opportunity to follow through on the attraction, but simply because, as Alexie concludes, “Truly, when it comes down to it, don’t we all want to be universally desired?”