Every time I hear an athlete, coach, manager, owner, broadcaster or sports scribe spew anti-LGBT(etc.) bile, or post it on social media, I ask myself the same questions.
"Really? They still don't get it?"
"Why do they care who gay people date?"
"Would they say these things if they discovered one of their children was gay?"
"What are they afraid of?"
Then a wave of weariness washes over me, because hearing the vitriol has become tiresome.
I imagine it's much the same feeling Blacks or Jews or Indigenous, or any marginalized peoples, experience when they're the targets of hate speech and/or actions. But I don't know that with certainty. I can only speak for myself.
And I just cannot understand why being gay/bi/transgender(etc.) is so damn damnable.
Why does it matter to Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass that Target has put LGBT(etc.) merchandise on its shelves? Don't like it? Then spend your money at Walmart. Why does he care that Anheuser-Busch used a transgender person to peddle Bud Light? Don't like it? Then pop a top on a Coors Light.
Rather than make those simple choices (as so many have), Bass felt obliged to traffic in hate and cruelty by sharing a post advocating boycotts of Target and Bud Light for "evil" and "demonic" marketing campaigns.
Evil and demonic. Sigh.
I wonder how many LGBT(etc.) youth saw, or heard about, the Bass post and retreated into themselves to wrestle with the worst kind of thoughts. Like suicide. And, no, that's not being alarmist. It's reality according to findings from The Trevor Project's most recent studies (2021/22):
- LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
- 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
- The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S.—and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
"LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society," reads the intro to one of the studies.
"We must recognize that LGBTQ young people face stressors simply for being who they are that their peers never have to worry about," writes Amit Paley, CEO/executive director of The Trevor Project. "The fact that very simple things—like support from family and friends, seeing LGBTQ representation in media, and having your gender expression and pronouns respected—can have such a positive impact on the mental health of an LGBTQ young person is inspiring, and it should command more attention in conversations around suicide prevention and public debates around LGBTQ inclusion."
Support from a professional athlete (a role model, if you will) seems like a simple thing, too, but here we have Bass, a marginal pitcher demonizing a marginalized community. And his employers, who have a Pride Weekend planned for June 9-10, permit him to play on.
The Blue Jays chucker, it should be pointed out, delivered a mea culpa on Tuesday, but it was noteworthy more for its brevity than its content.
"I'll make this quick," is how he began his 31 seconds of "my bad," which was sincere like a Louisville Slugger is a toothpick.
But, hey, he managed to squeeze in a token mention of his "friends and close family members" who are part of the LGBT(etc.) community, so if he has gay friends and family he can't possibly be anti-gay. As if.
This is part of the reason anti-LGBT(etc.) language has become so tiresome and weighty, like trying to push an ATM up a steep hill. If the apologists aren't propping up their gay friends and family as unimpeachable proof of their accepting ways, they're telling us that the dreadful thing they said "isn't really who I am," as if we don't know prime rib from a Happy Meal. Their words and actions tell us exactly who they are.
I don't know how many innings I have left, but I'd like to think Bass and those of his ilk are a vanishing breed, and they might even be gone by the time I sack my bats. I won't make book on it, though.
This week it's Bass. Before him it was University of West Virginia hoops coach Bob Huggins calling Catholics a bunch of "f--s." Before him it was Cam Thomas of the Brooklyn Nets. Before him it was seven National Hockey League players balking on Pride night initiatives. Before them it was Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Before him it was football hall-of-fame coach Tony Dungy. Before him it was Jon Gruden. Tomorrow it will be (fill in the blank).
They're seemingly everywhere and they've worn me out, to the point where some days I hesitate to step out of doors. I've heard every slight and slur imaginable, and I really don't care to hear it anymore.
Which takes me back to one of the questions I posed at the top of this essay: What are they afraid of? I'd really like to know the answer so I can pass it on to our LGBT(etc.) youth.