Thursday, May 2, 2013

From Gay to Hero

Announcement by NBA player, Jason Collins that he is gay has been very favorably received.  There is no question in my mind that Jason or any player should have the love and respect of coaches, teammates, opponents, fans, media, and others.  Jason should be treated just like any other pro athlete.

My personal problem comes when people try to make Jason Collins into a hero.  He has been praised as a courageous pioneer who risked everything to tell the world about his sexual orientation and (I assume) his sexual activity with other men.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt about his motives.  However, you have to wonder why he waited until a time when he appeared to be washed up as a player, released by the Washington Wizards.  He is a journeyman player who never played much and is now, at age 34, at or near the end of his career.   He is expected to receive many endorsements  now that he has ":come out" and there will be a lot of pressure for some team to give him a job.  This move may have been courageous or it may have just been smart, but it is hard to see him as a hero.

After having seen and thoroughly enjoyed the movie 42, I am amazed that some are calling Jason Collins another Jackie Robinson.  How dare they!  Jackie was denied a chance to play major league baseball simply because he was black.  When he got the chance to play he put up with insults, name-calling, extreme prejudice, and even violence.  He did not have to come out because he was clearly an African American.
Jason, on the other hand, has  played pro ball for eleven years.  He hid the fact that he was gay.   He came out at a time when his career is almost over and society has a favorable view of homosexuality.  If he plays again, he will, no doubt hear some name-calling but he will not come close to  what Robinson had to endure.

I recall the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 as he recounts humankind's fall from God.  "Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.  And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other.  Men did shameful things with other men..."  Paul's closing statement reminds me of all the praises that have been given to Jason Collins by the media, pro athletes, politicians,  and entertainers: "Worse yet, they give hearty approval to those who practice them."

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