Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS Jason Collins: The great Black hope
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2013-05-07

This article shared 1953 times since Tue May 7, 2013
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


The professional sports world has been waiting for a Jason Collins moment—a gay athlete currently playing in a major league to come out publicly. What you may not know is that the subtext is that it was hoped the moment would star an African-American male.

The African-American community, not to mention the sports world, desperately needed an openly gay current male professional player.

Collins, who deliberately wore the jersey number, "98," to honor slain gay student Matthew Shepard during the 2012-13 NBA season, is a seven-foot-tall center for the Washington Wizards and a former Boston Celtic, and is also African-American. Closeted for all of his professional playing life, until now, Collins told "Sports Illustrated," why he finally came out.

"I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. ... I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore."

LGBTQ athletes must constantly monitor how they are being perceived by teammates, coaches, endorsers and the media in order to avoid suspicion. They are expected to maintain a public silence and decorum so that their identity does not tarnish the rest of the team.

In what will now hopefully become the last closet where LGBTQ hide their sexual orientation, thanks to Collins, the sports world's hyper-masculine and testosterone-driven milieu might actually begin to loosen its homophobic hold, especially among Black athletes.

Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics and an African-American, is revered among Black athletes.

Having coached Collins for 32 games before Collins was traded to the Washington Wizard, Doc Rivers remarks help spread a message of acceptance.

"I'm really proud of Jason. He still can play. He'll be active in our league, I hope, and we can get by this— get past this. I think it would be terrific for the league. More than anything, it would just be terrific for mankind, my gosh."

In terms of when and how you come out personally, timing is everything. So, too, in coming out professionally.

The statement, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm Black. And I'm gay" by Collins in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated is as momentous as when renown comedienne Ellen DeGeneres' quote "Yep, I'm Gay" appeared on the cover of the April 14, 1997 issue of "Time Magazine."

Although the time span between the two statements is 16 years, and many more advances and civil rights have been afforded to us LGBTQ Americans, we now see we're still a nation grappling with the issue.

While both Collins and DeGeneres give a public face and personal testimonies of their struggle of being closeted about their sexual orientation, their messages reaches and resonates within only certain pockets of the American population and not others. And within those pockets of the American populace, the reprisal and applause they also receive for coming out still fracture alone several fault lines, with profession being one of them.

When Ellen so boldly came out in 1997 she received a torrent of praises from the LGBTQ community and our allies. But "her career puttered and stalled out for the three years following her coming out," and her impact did little for both the world of sports and for many straight and LGBTQs in the African-American community in understanding the deleterious effects of homophobia. (It was still being argued, as now, in many African-American communities that homosexuality is a "white disease.")

In the sports world most women athletes, even today, are assumed to either be lesbians and/ or unfeminine. For example, in many African-American communities Olympic basketball player Lisa Leslie was perceived to be a "girly-girly"—not a lesbian, but certainly a weak and non-aggressive player. Tennis phenoms the Williams Sisters are aggressive players but too muscular, especially Serena, to be seen as feminine.

LBT women in professional sports have come out of the closet while playing, at least, two decades before the "Jason Collins watershed moment."

While race plays a factor in the African-American community coming to grips with its homophobia, especially in the world of sports, so, too, does gender.

Case in point: Just last month, Brittney Griner, also an African-American like Collins, is a 6-foot-8, three-time All-America center and was the number-one pick in the WNBA draft. She announced she was a lesbian, and it wasn't considered a big news story.

In 1997, a pregnant Sheryl Swoopes—three-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time MVP of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)—was promoted as a heterosexual face for the WNBA was the cover girl for the premiere issue of Sports Illustrated Women. At the time Swoopes was married to her male high school sweetheart. That was considered a big news story. But it was also a big story in 2005, when Swoopes came out as a lesbian—becoming the second in the WNBA—and endorsed the lesbian travel company Olivia. She was at the time partnered with Alisa Scott, an assistant coach for the Houston Comets that Sheryl played for during 1997-2007. And in 2011, it was another big new story because she was with a male.

To incurable homophobes, especially of the fundamentalist Christian variety type, who pedal their "nurture vs. nature" rhetoric, they saw Swoopes as the prodigal daughter who had finally found her way home to Jesus.

One of my heterosexual African-American brothers, Chris Unclesho, the man Swoopes was then engaged to marry, was the MAN! He was seen as a bona fide "dyke whisperer" who had turned Swoopes out to the sexual joys of what it is to be with a man.

But long before Swoopes, Griner and Collins, both tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova came out in 1981.

Martina was publicly taunted for not only being a lesbian but for also not bringing femininity and beauty to her game. Her muscular physique and supposedly masculine appearance killed not only sponsor endorsements but also attempted to kill her spirit in playing the game.

With the sports world celebrating Collins news, Navratilova has joined in voicing her joy in an op-ed she wrote for SI.com .

"Collins has led the way to freedom. Yes, freedom—because that closet is completely and utterly suffocating. It's only when you come out that you can breathe properly."

Navratilova is correct in stating that Collins is a "game-changer," because he stands on all the LGBTQ shoulders in sports before him.

Collins is not the first professional gay or Black athlete to come out. He's not even the first professional athlete to come out while playing.

But in a sports world that has become overwhelming shaped by African-American male players and masculinity, Collins coming-out celebration has everything to do with timing, gender, race and many more straight brothers embracing their gay brethren.


This article shared 1953 times since Tue May 7, 2013
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

OP-ED The Black church was one of R. Kelly's enablers 2021-10-13
- The long-awaited justice for R. Kelly's survivors finally came last month when a New York federal jury found him guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. For nearly 30 years, underage Black girls and their families have ...


Gay News

VIEWS Finding the Crossroads 2021-10-08
By Martha Miller - The first time I saw a psychic, I was 19 and my friend Sandy and I drove to Jacksonville to see an old woman who read cards. We were young and it was fun going to her old house where a ...


Gay News

TRAVEL Conde Nast readers select The Gwen as Chicago's best hotel 2021-10-05
- Conde Nast Traveler's readers have spoken—and their views of Chicago's hotels are distinctly different from those of another top travel publication. While Viceroy Chicago topped Travel + Leisure's readers' list of local spots to stay, ...


Gay News

SAVOR South Branch Tavern & Grille 2021-08-19
- Before taking a bite of anything at South Branch Tavern & Grille (100 S. Wacker Dr.; https://www.southbranchchicago.com/), patrons are likely to be impressed. The reason lies in the picturesque views surrounding the spot. Ensconced near some ...


Gay News

VIEWS U.S. Senators: It's time to act against anti-LGBTQ discrimination 2021-07-28
- Georgia has had the eyes of the nation on it for some time now. It's just over five years since people across Georgia braced themselves as lawmakers sent sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation to the desk of then-Governor ...


Gay News

OP-ED Foreign drug pricing puts America's most vulnerable patients last 2021-07-03
By Guy Anthony - It's no coincidence that American companies led the charge to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Numerous policies—from strong patent protections to a welcoming immigration system—help ensure that the world's smartest scientists can ...


Gay News

Op-Ed: Elevating 'T' in LGBTQ: State government, transgender equity in 21st century 2021-06-28
By Illinois state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz - In recent decades, our laws, pop culture and morality have shifted dramatically for same-sex couples. Our LGBTQ+ neighbors are interwoven into the fabric of our communities now more than ever. We celebrate this recognition and indeed ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Pride at work 2021-06-23
- Pride Month is a chance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people to be proud and visible in a world that tells us not to be. Pride Month is a chance to celebrate and ...


Gay News

LETTER: Pride, a time for hope 2021-06-12
- Pride is so much more than a parade, a march or even a demonstration for the LGBTQAI community. In other words, this is an opportunity for us to celebrate our diversity among our various communities, and ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Tulsa Race Massacre reparations would begin the healing 2021-05-31
- When HBO's 2019 Watchmen series opened with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and HBO's 2020 Lovecraft Country series closed with scenes from the riots, most Americans had never heard of the event—even Tulsans. On May 19, ...


Gay News

Illinois Holocaust Museum makes statement on anti-Semitic attacks 2021-05-28
--From a press release - Dear Museum Community, At Illinois Holocaust Museum, we are appalled at the recent rise in worldwide anti-Semitic incidences. We cannot stand by while Jews and synagogues are violently attacked, including in Skokie, New York, Los Angeles, ...


Gay News

LETTER A matter of race 2021-05-20
- I applaud Mayor Lori Lightfoot's courageous statement on only giving one-on-one interviews to journalists of color. She obviously wants to see a public dialogue on this matter. White privilege is a topic we must look at ...


Gay News

The Amazon Trail Notes from a Homebody 2021-05-19
- 's finally here. The end of total lockdown. Am I ready? Absolutely not. I like my burrow. I don't wanna play with others. We've fashioned a comfortable little routine. Week days, work. Evenings, spend time alone ...


Gay News

Illinois Latino Agenda issues statement on shooting of Adam Toledo 2021-04-15
--From a press release - On March 29, 2021, 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer. Since the shooting, there have been different narratives formed of who Adam Toledo was. Various media have made allegations saying ...


Gay News

Pastor Donnie McClurkin's struggle with sexuality mirrors the Black church's 2021-04-13
- The most significant factor that keeps the Black church on the down low are closeted, homophobic ministers. Pastor Donnie McClurkin—a three-time Gospel Grammy winner and the former poster boy for ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.