Mark Morford of the SF Chronicle has a new editorial I like, called "Where are the Gay Pro Athletes?"
Like many on the sidelines, he was provoked by basketball player Sheryl Swoopes' announcement that she is a lesbian.
Mark checked out the boys' side of the bench:
...We're looking at a grand total of well over 2,500 pro male athletes, all sharing locker rooms and showers and sweat and intimate moments and you really want to sit there and tell me at least a dozen of these guys aren't right now closeted homosexual? Bisexual? Something? Please. Get over it.
...Think about it. No male fan in his sticky armchair is right now saying, gul-dangit, my image of the WNBA is totally shattered, shattered, I tell you, my manhood's threatened and my Budweiser supply is endangered and what the hell is happening with the sports that define my beer-bellied soul? It just ain't happening.
But it does bring up the bigger, more sticky, fascinating issue of gay male pro athletes and why it's still such a viciously loaded topic and when it will finally be cracked. (It's inevitable, of course. Not if, but when. And, of course, who. And how soon thereafter he will be shot.)
These coming out announcements are strange ducks. If it weren't for homophobia, coming-out would be a NON-issue. You're gay and you eat crackers in bed? Well, that's your business, honey.
No straight celebs ever "come out" to ease prejudice— but maybe they should! Imagine if heterosexual stars held press conferences like this:
I'm straight and I don't have orgasms, ever
I'm straight, I dig S/M, and everyone should chill out about it
I'm straight but really, if someone ties me up in fur cuffs, I don't care who you are
I'm straight but I like to read gay stories with my wife
I'm straight and poly and I think marriage is ridiculous
I'm straight and I like mutual masturbation better than anything
I'm straight, and I'm an incest survivor who was abused by this business
These stories are as likely to be true as Morford's queer speculations. But the star-making machine only valorizes stars as long as they stick to stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that no mere mortals would put up with.
I was also intrigued with Sheryl's statement that she was not "born gay." This declaration outraged people on both sides of the "gay rights" debate— while relieving others, like me.
The notion of being "born" a certain way, sexually, is a Puritanical bear trap. I hate to see anyone, particularly a liberal, fall into it. You are born... sexual. That's it. In the beginning, there is no difference to you between sex, hunger, being held, discovering light, coming to consciousness.
And then some of us begin to identify what we like and don't like, our various discriminations. Some of them change through the years, others remain steadfast.
I enjoy talking to people about their first conscious inklings of their sexual character, because every story is so different, and it's such a big piece of our personal narrative. But I'd never want to brand their hide.
The only reason this "born gay" business became an issue is because of the anti-gay agenda of the Moral Majority, who made the false construction that if you weren't BORN queer, like a disability, then you didn't deserve "benefits." They popularized this crap in the late 1970s, not the beginning of time, as they would have you believe. I refuse to accept their political delusions as a substitute for accurate sex education, anymore than I buy the intelligent-hawhaw-design theories.
Check this out: I once traveled to a West Virginia former boys military school to give a talk on "How to Read a Dirty Movie." (How I go that invitation was a miracle... a closet case in the Student Union engineered it).
After my presentation, the president of the Young Republican Club took me out for burgers with some of the other students.
He asked me,"How much money do you get from the government every month?"
"Huh?" My mouth was full of fries.
"You know, the special benefits for gays!" He wasn't going to let me slip away!
"Well, you know, I only get half as much, because I'm bi."
It took him a couple more pickles to realize I was teasing him. He was shocked to hear that this pay-for-gay program didn't exist, and I'm not sure that I convinced him.
"Well, I'm for equal rights, I'm just not for special rights," he said.
I wanted to deflower him, right on the spot. He had no idea what sex feels like, what desire means, or what being victimized looks like when you are an erotic target of people's fear and neuroses.
Anyway, there are pundits who are mad at Sheryl, who are saying, "Poor dear, she just doesn't realize she was born gay, and we have to educate her and the public."
To which I say, BACK OFF. Swoopes may very well have loved and desired men in her life, and might do so again. She might be one of those Kinsey 5's. It's not for anyone to dissect. In an ideal world, we'd be beyond caring. She has every "right" to get married, kiss in public, and plan her future with her chosen family. That's not special, that's normal.
I personally think she is gorgeous and would like her to announce that she's MY girlfriend. We all have our little agendas!
Swoopes has done something a lot of guys in her Nikes must envy. She gets to embrace her family and public life without living a lie, sporting a beard, or acting profoundly unnatural— and this is a credit to her mental health. She'll live longer and wiser for it!