...Yeah, OK, what he said.
By LZ Granderson
I am so over gay people.
Specifically, John Amaechi.
Not him personally -- I hear he's a delightful guy -- but gay people like him.
You know, the athlete who comes out after retiring, writes a tell-all, and then hears how courageous he is from straight columnists trying to appear "evolved" even though I've heard the word "f-----" come out of their mouths just as freely as some of the athletes they write about. I'm over it because we've all been here before. Like a remake of "Groundhog Day" featuring the cast of "Will and Grace," the country works itself up into a frenzy any time the subject comes up, true or false. Amaechi comes out ("Gasp, there's a pro gay athlete!") or Mike Piazza holds a 2002 news conference ("I'm not gay"), or the suggestive Snickers commercial airs, and then we go back to our same routine until another "courageous" soul comes out when he feels has nothing to lose.
[...] An athlete in 2007 who stays in the closet during his playing days does more to support homophobia in sports than coming out after retirement does to combat it.
But what I am suggesting is that by not living the truth you are supporting the lie. The lie that gay men are inherently weaker than straight men. We can go in circles about whether homosexuality is a sin, but that's not what this argument is about. It's about whether a gay athlete can perform on the field or on the court at the same level of excellence and intensity as a straight athlete. I've talked to a lot athletes over the years about having a gay teammate, and their top objection is they believe a gay dude won't be able to pull his own weight. The whole shower thing is a close second....
[...]That's why I say it's time to man up. Life as an openly gay man cannot be any worse than life as a closeted one at this point. Look around, whatever endorsements you might lose for being gay you will be able to make up from other companies looking for buzz. High school athletes are out and changing lives. [...] And don't hand me the it's-harder-in-sports crap, either. I've been an out sportswriter for years now. I've been on TV, had my face in one of the largest newspapers in the country and my mug is sitting right next to this column. I've been called names in work meetings, received death threats and told I was going to hell more times than the devil. But you know what, I don't give a rip. Because at the end of the day I know walking within what I know is true for me is a lot easier than trying to run from it. Just ask Jim McGreevy. Or Mark Foley. Or Ted Haggard, who appears to still be running...
The brilliant life of Anthony Castro (espn.com)
By LZ Granderson
January 30, 2007
From what I know of Michael Anthony Castro, he would not like this column.
He would have been uncomfortable with all the focus being on him. A leader in the true sense of the word, Anthony was the kind of guy who avoided the spotlight, preferring to lead by example. Of course, that rarely stopped the spotlight from finding him.
Michael Anthony Castro made a lasting impression on those who knew him.
A four-year starter for the Banning High Broncos when the team's starting quarterback was ruled academically ineligible, Anthony, a 6-foot, 210-pound fullback, volunteered to take his place. He had never played the position before, but that didn't stop the Broncos' captain from making all-conference. Anthony was also captain of the swim team, a member of the wrestling squad and part of the yearbook staff. Despite his being the big man on campus, freshmen felt comfortable enough around him to ask for help if they were being bullied by other upperclassmen. Teachers loved him, and the girls adored him....
[...]His funeral is today.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Anthony, but when I read about his story, tears filled my eyes -- in large part because he died so young, but also because he lived so courageously. You see Michael Anthony Castro, the three-sport star athlete and most popular kid in school, was openly gay. Came out when he was a sophomore.
"He caught a lot of crap over the first six to nine months after coming out," says Phil Takacs, a Banning High counselor. "Sometimes he would come to my office and ask if he could just spend the rest of the day there. He would say that he couldn't take being called 'faggot' any more today and just needed a break. He even thought about quitting sports. But over time, Anthony just got tired of the other kids making him feel bad for who he was.
"One day he was in practice and one of the other wrestlers was giving him a bunch of crap about being gay. Anthony looked at the kid and said 'You have a problem with me; why don't we take this to the mat?' This guy wrestled in the heaviest division, but Anthony pinned him in less than 30 seconds. That guy never said anything else again." [...]
Here's the thing, the only part where I kind of understand how Amaeche might have been thinking.
He wasn't a star.
After three, four years, and so many teams within that time, it would have been apparent to him that he wasn't going to be a star, no matter his fondest dreams or hopes. And he'd have been cut as soon as he made that announcement, or not offered any future contracts if it happened at the end of a season. That would have been the end of everything.
But ... but. You kind of wonder if it wouldn't have been worth it. After all, he has to have been fairly miserable. Not only closeted, but in a foreign country, and dealing with the somewhat different way the US thinks of blacks, and black men in general.
I don't know. I can't know; that would never have been my life. I'd never have those opportunities, so I don't know what it would take in personal cost to be forced out of them.
But still.Posted by iain at February 08, 2007 12:40 PM