NBA player Jason Collins' decision yesterday to come out as gay was interesting on a number of levels, but I guess I have a hard time viewing it as "courageous," the word most often used in the discussions on ESPN yesterday and this morning. Collins is, according to what I read yesterday, a very nice guy who is very well-liked by teammates and coaches; he comes from a good family; and he's been very successful in his life thus far. But how courageous is it for a multi-millionaire who will likely retire this year at age 34 with enough money for ten lifetimes to announce his homosexuality? Lots of regular people who are living paycheck to paycheck are out who put a lot more at risk.
Moreover, in the current climate, with the President and all of the mainstream media, Hollywood, academia, and corporate boardrooms all firmly behind the diversity agenda, including gay marriage, anyone with their eyes open would have predicted that his announcement would be greeted with universal acclaim, and that he would be applauded for his honesty (although he's essentially been dishonest for many years). Which, of course, it was.
In other words, when there is no downside, why is it courageous?
And, not to be cynical, but there was a lot of upside for him beyond the personal peace of mind. Brittany Griner, the number one selection in the WNBA, came out a month ago, and apparently four NFL players may come out very soon, so Collins may have had an incentive to come out now. Again, in the current climate, Collins' being the first male big-sport pro athlete to come out is a lottery ticket winner -- he'll be lauded and feted for the rest of his life as the gay Jackie Robinson, even though Robinson faced actual hatred and vitriol, while Collins will almost immediately have a gig on ESPN or TNT or whatever he wants.
What really took courage was what Chris Broussard, the ESPN analyst said yesterday, in a friendly conversationwith LZ Granderson, an openly gay ESPN reporter:
I’d like to second what LZ said. “I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.
In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names…
Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.
Again predictably in the current climate, Broussard has been eviscerated for his "intolerance," and people have even called for him to be fired for having an opinion that derives from his Christian faith. (If you really want to see hatred and intolerance, look at the comments on Christianity in the comments section of an article lambasting Broussard in the LA Times.)
So here is where we are today. It is demanded, not just that we tolerate gays (which Broussard credibly says he does), but that we applaud and celebrate and voice approval of the gay lifestyle. In other words, we are required, not just to not hate gays, not just to not discriminate against gays, not just to not harass gays, not just to not bully gays... we are now required to not think certain thoughts about gays. We are now required to not believe certain things about gays. We are now required to not follow our own religion if our religion is evangelical Christianity, or Catholicism, or Islam for that matter. Weirdly, if you're Catholic and follow the Catechism, we are now required to not hope for gay men and women to find true happiness through chastity. We're just not allowed to even think those thoughts or say those things.
So who exactly is intolerant in this scenario?