Good job, 98.1 FM
During my morning commute each weekday I tend to have radio listener’s ADD. I don’t like to listen to the morning hosts’ senseless blathering. I don’t care about Bad Boyfriend Poker. (Or much worse Roses; a dreadful gimmick where the DJs trick douchey boyfriends or spouses into answering a brief telephone survey in exchange for a dozen free roses to send to anyone they wish – which these fools inevitably send to someone other than their girlfriend or wife who is listening in on the whole thing, live on the radio. The Jerry Springer-esque fallout that ensues is meant to be entertaining. If you have half a brain, it’s not.) I don’t particularly enjoy the Classical 96.3 Snooty News, or the weather (which is wrong more often than it’s right), or the generally obnoxious Dean Blundell Show (sorry honey, I just don’t like it, I tried). So what I do is surf incessantly. As soon as the mindless chatter commences, I hit the button until I get to a station playing something that could pass for music and return to my state of head-bobbing highway hypnosis.
Yesterday morning however, I was in perhaps a greater state of Monday morning apathy than usual and was listening idly as the chatter on 98.1 FM (a mind-numbing ‘current hits & yesterday’s favorites’ kind of station that sticks to a steady playlist of easily palatable pop hits) led into their daily entertainment update. I soon had the enormous pleasure of hearing the following exchange:
Cheesy lady host: “Two NHL stars got married over the weekend”.
Even cheesier guy host “But not to each other” (with an audible smirk)
Lady host: “THAT wouldn’t be a good thing!”
It was at this point that I groaned aloud and then exclaimed, to absolutely no one “SERIOUSLY???!!!”
What exactly would the crisis be if two NHL stars married eachother?? Would the entire sport of hockey grind to a shuddering halt?
(Wait, just let me get my soapbox…)
It’s unfortunate, but the world of professional sports continues to be an unwelcoming climate for gay athletes. I’m no fool: I understand that the men’s locker room is one of the last bastions of unbridled machismo and that the use of homophobic slurs has long been part of the ordinary banter, but acknowledging the status quo and accepting it are two different things. “We always have” is not a good enough excuse to continue.
When, over the last 75 years or so, professional sports began to admit black athletes, the concept and individuals themselves were met with resistance and experienced a period of transition – I’m sure members of public and teams alike shrieked ‘it’ll never work!’ Hell, there was a time in the last half century when African Americans were thought to carry different diseases than whites. They were forced to use separate rest rooms and water fountains and sit at the back of the bus and frequent separate movie theaters. Now, looking back, how batshit crazy does that seem?
I’m confident that in the foreseeable future, the concept of segregation and intolerance linked to sexual orientation is going to seem equally ludicrous. People will scratch their heads and wonder how they ever thought there could possibly be a difference between the love shared by heterosexual couples versus that of same-sex couples.
No one truly believes that there are no gay players in professional sports but there continues to be an unwritten policy of ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’ and breaking down the communication barrier is critical to fostering a climate of acceptance and respect. Baby steps are being taken (and since they are a relative rarity, they are regarded more as massive leaps). I wept to read Jason Collins’ article in Sports Illustrated. One player coming out should NOT be a news sensation – but it still is. and so I cheer for those who are brave enough to do it! The only way we can hope for the next generation to be less homophobic than ours and the ones before it is by providing kids and teens with positive LGBT role models. The Arts sphere has been doing an exemplary job of this recently (and been more quietly welcoming to the LGBT community for decades) but, (as I’m about to point out) not all gay kids want to work in the Arts and unless we make it known to them that they can expect a culture of acceptance and equality in ANY field, the closeting will continue.
Newsflash to the ignorant masses: Not all gay men are musicians, interior decorators and fashion designers. They haven’t all been carefully corralled into LA or the big-city Gayborhood. They’re EVERYWHERE – your bank teller, your doctor, your travel agent, your kid’s teacher or your auto mechanic. Your trash collector, your landscaper, your next-door neighbour, or your boss. And if you didn’t think any less of them when you thought they were straight, why change now? (The same sentiment obviously applies to the stereotyping of LBT individuals).
Look, maybe the radio host didn’t mean any harm. Maybe she realized she’d said something homophobic afterward and felt like an ass. No matter what, unfortunately, her words simply reflect the majority of sportsfans’ attitude today: “Gay athletes – no way, they couldn’t be!” And just in case you hadn’t caught my drift yet, I’ll distill it down: that is NOT OK with me. I’m hoping that in my lifetime we’ll get to the point where ‘coming out’ goes like this:
Guy to his buddy: “So, uh, I don’t know if you know already, but, uh, I’m gay.”
Buddy: “Cool. Whatever. Lace up your skates before the ice fucking melts, buddy.”
A non-event. A passing conversation of the same level of importance as what we ate for breakfast or how bloody hot it was yesterday.
And when the day finally comes that two gay NHL stars wed, I will be pumping my fist instead of shaking it.