It's really fascinating, in a very strange way, watching people be both hypocritical and alarmingly stupid.at the same time.
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 22, 2010
All Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ wanted to do was to win the championship game at the Gay Softball World Series for their amateur San Francisco team.
Instead, they were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle and asked about their "private sexual attractions and desires," and their team was stripped of its second-place finish after the men were determined to be "non-gay," they said in a lawsuit accusing a national gay sports organization of discrimination.
The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, pits the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a San Francisco group backing the men, against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, which prides itself on barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. At issue is whether the gay sports alliance violated Washington state's public accommodations laws by enforcing a rule limiting to two the number of heterosexuals who can play on a team.
Apilado, Charles and Russ were members of D2, a team that was part of the San Francisco Gay Softball League. The squad made it to the championship game at the August 2008 tournament in Kent, Wash. But another team, the Atlanta Mudcats, which had lost to D2 in a semifinal game, complained that the San Francisco team had too many straights. D2 ultimately lost the championship to a team from Los Angeles. Afterward, Apilado, Charles and Russ were called separately into a conference room in front of 25 people for a hearing to determine whether they were heterosexual or gay, the suit said. They were asked "very intrusive, sexual questions," including what their sexual interests and preferences were, Suzanne Thomas, a Seattle attorney for the plaintiffs, said Wednesday.
Charles, who was D2's manager, asked whether he could say he was bisexual and was told, "This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series," the suit said. According to Charles' Facebook profile, he is married to a woman.In a statement, Charles said, "When you play softball, you never expect for anyone to corner you and ask you personal questions about who you are and what you do. It was emotional for me as a coach to go in there and not only get grilled, but watch my team be put in this situation."
The alliance ultimately determined that the three men were "non-gay" and that D2 had broken the rules. The alliance placed the San Francisco Gay Softball League on probation, "with the consequence that if a San Francisco team is found to have too many 'non-gay' players on its roster again," the league will be expelled, the suit said. [...]
The NAGAAA decided to enforce the minimum gayly requirement (or to be more specific, the maximum straight requirement) by conducting the sort of inquisition carried out by the government under the auspices of "don't ask, don't tell." Because imitating your oppressors is the sincerest form of flattery! Well done, NAGAAA, well done!
But wait! it gets better!
Bi African-American Ballplayers Sue Gay Softball Organization For Discrimination
Filed by: Monica Roberts (Bilerico Project, bilerico.com)
April 22, 2010 5:00 PM
If the GLBT community wants their rights and humanity respected, protected and codified under the law, it is imperative for them to remember and realize that they must do the same thing for others inside and outside the GLBT community. [...] When the game was over, five D2 players, Apilado, Charles, Russ and two white teammates were immediately summoned to a conference room for a protest hearing,
Each player was forced to answer intrusive questions about his sexual orientation and his private life in front of a room of over 25 people, most of whom the players did not know. The players were forced to answer whether they were "predominantly attracted to men" or "predominantly attracted to women," without the option of answering that they were attracted to both.
After each player was interrogated, a panel voted on whether he was "gay" or "non-gay." NAGAAA's committee refused to entertain the possibility that the players could be bisexual. In response to a player's statement that he was attracted to both men and women, a NAGAAA member responded, "This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series."
Ultimately, the predominantly-white committee voted that all the men of color, Charles, Russ, and Apilado, were not gay. The committee voted multiple times on at least one player. The committee also declared that the other two players, both white--one of whom had given precisely the same answers as Russ--were gay. [...]
NAGAAA is being represented by Beth Allen, a Portland, OR based attorney who specializes in LGBT-related legal issues. She said that NAGAAA "agrees that if they were a public accommodation, they could not limit players on the basis of sexual orientation. But they're a private organization, seeking to provide a forum for gay and lesbian athletes, or those who would like to become athletes, to play ball together in an environment where they don't face any type of discrimination. ... It is not an unusual situation to have a softball league that is organized by principle on a protected class."
Allen was quoted in Advocate.com as saying that she found the suit brought by NCLR to be "very disheartening."
"Certainly I've seen infighting in the community. Anyone who's worked for our rights has seen infighting, because we're all human," Allen said. "But as I've told [NCLR executive director] Kate Kendell, it baffles me why they've taken on this case. Why is the National Center for Lesbian Rights asserting this claim on behalf of three poor beleaguered straight men? I don't get it."
Kendell said the suit "makes very clear that the core issue in the case is that sexual orientation discrimination is harmful, demeaning, and stigmatizing. What these players were subjected to in terms of inquiry about their private sexual lives was a violation, not only of the softball association's own rules but also Washington state law."
"[Allen's] response is what's baffling," Kendell added.
NAGAAA, the organizer of the Gay Softball World Series, has refused to change the discriminatory rule that excludes players based on sexual orientation, to apologize to Apilado, Charles, and Russ for the traumatic and humiliating public interrogation they endured, or to disavow the practice of interrogating players about their sexual orientations in protest hearings....
....And it was somewhere in in the middle of all this that my head exploded.
Let's leave aside the question of racism, for now. Let's even leave aside the outrageous inquisition into the sex lives of these men that NAGAAA conducted. Let's just look at that lawsuit, shall we? Let's shall.
The plain fact is, NAGAAA cannot afford to win this lawsuit.
Why is that, you might ask?
Because NAGAAA is using precisely the same argument that the Boy Scouts of America used in trying to eject a gay scoutleader: that they were a private organization, and that as such, they were not required to follow state nondiscrimination laws that were binding on public organizations. And, after many years and appeals, the Supreme Court agreed with them. And the net result?
The Boy Scouts were summarily stripped of access to all sorts of public facilities in many cities and states. San Diego and Philadelphia have launched lawsuits to take back the local headquarters buildings, which were donated by the cities involved under the assumption tha the scouts were a public organization.
If NAGAAA ultimately wins this lawsuit, they will be blocked from access to facilities in Washington state, Washington DC, California, Chicago, New York, and all sorts of other places. Now, I'm sure that there are private baseball and softball fields out there that they can use -- though it's worth noting that the majority of those will probably belong to private schools, colleges, and universities, and in this country, the majority of those have some sort of religious affiliation, which could prove ... problematic, to put it mildly. I suppose they can try going to states which don't have nondiscrimination laws; they would certainly have sufficient public facilities. Of course, many of those might also be rather ... hostile to the very concept of a bevy of gay(ish) softball teams camping out in their towns.
In short, if NAGAAA actually wins this suit, they're likely to find themselves barred from being able to play in the locations where they'd most like to play.
Oh, but wait: it gets even better!
NAGAAA can't afford to lose this lawsuit, either.
If NAGAAA loses, they will almost certainly lose the right to restrict teams according to their perceived level of gayness. They will certainly lose the ability to conduct inquisitions into the sex lives of the players -- indeed, I hope they lose that privilege, whether they win or lose. Regardless, if they lose the lawsuit, they lose the ability to define themselves and competing teams by virtue of that factor most important to them. On the other hand, if they lose, they'll keep access to fields in the most desired locations.
I wonder if there's going to be some fallout of this, aside from the ugly publicity. One would hope that most of the teams would depart this association and form another one, with rules an regulations barring such inquiry into people's lives and affections. One would hope ... but that will never happen. After all, people have the memory of gnats, and they want things to be as easy as possible. And for the time being, the easiest thing to do would be to go along to get along. (Besides, serves those pesky straight people right for trying to pass. Who do they think they are?.... and so forth.)
Really, it's in their best interests to find some way to make this lawsuit go away as quickly and quietly as possible. That said, if I were one of the men who'd been subjected to the gay orthodox version of "Do Ask, Do Tell, and we won't believe you anyway (possibly especially if you're black)", I wouldn't let them out of this without the most abject public apology they could possibly compose.Posted by iain at April 24, 2010 11:41 PM