Sports Illustrated has a powerful feature this week by S.L. Price about Army guard Maxwell Lenox and his two dads. Lenox, seemingly the biological son of a drug addict, was adopted by the gay couple in North Carolina in the early 1990s. Through a lot of struggle and hard work, Lenox arrived at Army where he has been mostly come off the bench for the Black Knights.
This is a deeply rich, well-told story of three men - a white gay couple and their adopted black son (I include race because it's a big part of the story as written) - who became a family together. It's a story of love, support, heartache and triumph. Get out the tissues. It's also insightful and honest. I particularly love the exploration of the couple's family and how they all - conservative religious folk - willfully accepted that these two men, who would move around the country to be with one another, were just roommates.
I know Lenox has been the target of homophobic slurs by fans of other teams during away games. It's not often that straight people can truly understand the impact of those slurs. Given his family makeup, Lenox is one of the few who can. Hopefully this story will give fans a bit more understanding and not drive even more harassment (though you never know with college basketball fans).
One piece of the article was a bit disheartening. When conversation turns to the "lifestyle" of the gay couple, we get this:
And their lifestyle was so buttoned-down, so lacking in rainbow flags and pride parades, so dull, that it seemed as if what the world called gay and what Lenox lived with were very different things. "I'm as straight as they come, and I don't like gay people who push it in other people's faces," Max says. "It makes my parents look bad. You know your stereo-type gay person who's flamboyant and wearing pink? The stereotype makes me mad."
I suppose Lenox is talking about people like me, who have pink phone cases, drink pink martinis and push our "agenda" on the world, people who spend their lives trying to make this world a more accepting place for people like his fathers. Later in the article it talks again about how Max and his parents "never pushed it in anybody's face." How dare I kiss my husband in public and push it in people's faces!
With all the advancements we've made for LGBT people in recent years, there is still plenty of homophobia that marginalizes people who might be "too gay." It's akin to skin color with black people: As long as you're not too flamboyantly gay, you're OK...as long as you're not too dark-skinned, you're OK.