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Positive stories about gay athletes bring out the religious crazies

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That's what you get when an gay Oklahoma track and field athlete tells his story of acceptance.

Tanner Williams, right, and Scott Williams
Tanner Williams, right, and Scott Williams

It happens like clockwork on Outsports: We run a positive story about a gay athlete. It gets picked up by mainstream sites like Yahoo and our comments become flooded with anti-gay messages with a religious bent. I call them the yahoos from Yahoo. It's a sign they are losing their battle against LGBT acceptance.

The latest came with the marvelous first-person story by University of Oklahoma track and field athlete Tanner Williams, who told about his marriage a year ago. His story detailed his Southern Baptist upbringing and how it translated to homophobia that alienated him, and then how he was saved by his sport, his husband and his faith in God. His team has embraced him and they joked with him about the part of the story where he and his husband Scott drank jalapeno margaritas on their honeymoon.

The story was picked up by Yahoo, which shares content from SB Nation sites like Outsports. That's great on one hand since it means more people read these stories. On the downside, there were dozens of anti-gay messages on the story hours after posting and while I was asleep. Since we don't pre-moderate comments (with two of is running the site, that would often delay comments for hours), I was saddened but not surprised to see the crazies had found the story. Here is a sample of some of the comments I deleted:

  • Sickness comes in all sports, and debauchery is out there very badly.
  • Homosexuals….. Mother Nature’s dead end. She has chosen your polluted bloodline for extinction.
  • All in the name of perverted Unnatural sex, that is all it’s about. Nothing else. Love? A love of sticking your penis in anothers mans anal canal and coving it with crap. Yeah, real love.
  • It is an absolute disgrace that we have ever allowed this filthy immoral and unhygienic behavior to be accepted by the nation and if that is not bad enough these filthy sodomites have rainbow parades flaunting their filthy immoral ways before God and man.
  • Sin has been the biggest destroyer of man and his relationship with God. That is evidenced in the first Book of the Bible – Genesis. Ever heard of Sodom and Gomorrah? Ever read what happened to those cities as well as others that existed on the plains? Ever understood why God Himself sent His Son (the Angel of the Lord) along with two death angels? It was because these cities as well as others practiced sodomy (or homosexuality). It was rampant. It was so bad that people were praying for God to intervene. Now, in my book, homosexuality is a sexual behavior that goes against God’s natural sexual laws that were given to mankind. Apparently, He hated the behavior so much that He destroyed entire cities of sodomites. Not one or two folks but entire cities with fire and brimstone.
  • AGAIN ALL LGBT ARE ATHEISTS…THE ATHIEST RELIGION IS HERE !!!

You get the idea. One guy posted a half-dozen messages, all saying the same thing, in all caps, as if shouting would make his point more forcefully. Another posted a variation of the same message 30 times and I simply banned him. I felt bad that Tanner had to see these messages and told him I was sorry they were there. I loved his reply:

"No no!! It's OK, I've definitely heard worse. It's just a bunch of self righteous people who have nothing else to do with their lives. They are probably closeted gay people who are trying to get their attention off of them."

Tanner has developed a thick skin -- he had to being gay in Oklahoma --  and it was great to see his reaction. It must have really bugged some of the commenters that he is openly gay but also very religious. "It was not until I was 19 that I finally decided to be true to myself and love the way love was meant," he wrote. "I dated many girls in the past, but knew that it would never work out. It only encouraged me to want to open up and be who I believe God created me to be." This is a gay person who is not running away from his faith, even though he sees the way people use it to keep people who are different down.

These types of comments are another sign that the religious bigots are losing their war against LGBT people. They feel desperate and have to come to a gay sports website to lash out against someone who is being what he believes his God intended him to be. More and more, people of faith are saying that their hateful, spiteful God is not the one they worship. Bigots, while still numerous and still capable of spreading hate, are being marginalized and demographically are dying off. Many of them still have the power to influence politicians to pass these nonsensical "religious freedom" laws, but even those are running into more opposition.

The battle is far from won and LGBT people still struggle to come out and be accepted in far too many families and communities. But the fact that two men from Oklahoma can be legally married is a sign of better days ahead and it drives the bigots crazy. Tanner Williams is proof that even in the Bible belt, he can find an oasis of acceptance and it is getting larger all the time.