Today, you came out as the first openly gay active male athlete. Your team, other members of the NBA, former President Clinton (whose daughter Chelsea went to school with you), and many others offered up public support. I enthusiastically join that group, as I commend anyone with the courage to rise up and embrace his or her true self. But your coming out has me thinking…
I unfortunately/begrudgingly accept that Gay Rights is a charged topic for many political, religious, and social reasons (meaning that it shouldn't be an issue. "Gay Rights" are merely HUMAN rights). But the notion that a talented athlete has to come out and “admit” his sexuality shouldn’t be news. Not because you aren’t incredibly brave for facing the bigots and shortsighted anti-gay rhetoric in today’s world. Not because your personal journey towards being secure in your sexuality may have been challenging. The why-it-shouldn’t-be-news is, for me, much simpler: It’s not our business.
Society doesn’t demand that heterosexual sports figures/players detail their sexual preferences or admit their biggest turn-ons/offs. Do we ask heterosexual players if they prefer giving oral or receiving? Under the guise of “Be brave and tell us the truth”, the heterosexual community has somehow convinced the Gay Community that the world needs to know if they are gay. And it’s not enough to know… it needs to be admitted. And if you are a public figure, you owe society to tell-all, lest it be scandalized. What’s next: Documenting the sexual practices of straight/married football quarterbacks, including if they like anal sex with their wives?
None of this is our business.
What you did today is crazy-brave and it will make a huge difference to sports. Moreover, your statements and confidence will most likely provide another beacon for struggling gay youth to continue their journey towards their true sexuality. But from a societal viewpoint, I’m still saddened that you needed to admit your sexuality. For me, creating an air of admitting personal details leads to a big problem: It leads to tolerance. Tolerance is defined as “a permissive attitude toward [something],” and you don’t need anyone’s permission to just be you. I don’t have tolerance for your sexuality; I have acceptance. Who you are is just that… you. We shouldn’t need the detail on your love life… or anyone else’s’, for that matter.
Be YOU, Jason. You are talented. You are confident. You are a gift. If you feel the need to discuss intimate details of your life... that is your choice. But don’t let anyone tell you that you need to admit a damned thing.