If you spend your life growing up playing sports, dressing and living in and out of locker rooms, you have heard the word ‘faggot’ many times before.

 

First and foremost, there are many traits that can earn you the name ‘faggot.’ Drop a ball on the goal line with the game on the line and you are a ‘faggot.’ Put a band aid on a cut in the middle of the game instead of covering it with a dirty rag and you are a ‘faggot.’ Get dressed after the game and put a little too much deodorant under your arm and you are a ‘faggot.’

In locker rooms, ‘faggot’ is the universal pejorative designed to demean and disgrace all things not virile. In some UK public schools, ‘fagging’  was the name given to the practice where a younger boy, a "fag,” acted as an unpaid servant for an older boy. Last year, SFGN’s CEO, Piero Guidugli, even did an ‘Off the Wall’ Column about the word, which you can search out on SFGN’s newly re-designed web site.

The thing is that last week Kobe Bryant used the word to demean a referee in an NBA Basketball game, and it’s costing him $100,000, which is about a halftime’s worth of work for him. But this was the NBA’s way of saying no to publicized homophobia. Knowing nothing about Kobe and his predilections or dispositions -- save for that racy incident in a Colorado motel a few years back with some female -- the fine may not be warranted.

Larry Kramer wrote a 1978 novel entitled ‘Faggots.’ Maybe Kobe should have been required to read some passages out loud during half time. In 1995, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey referred to openly gay congressman Barney Frank as "Barney Fag" in a press interview. Then there was that time Ann Coulter, while being interviewed by Hardball’s Chris Matthews, opined that Al Gore was a “total fag.”

More recently, didn’t T.V. star Isaiah Washington call one of his co-stars, T. R. Knight, a ‘faggot’ on the set during an argument with another big shot Hollywood type?  I think being called a faggot can actually be a badge of honor. People used to call radio host Neil Rogers a faggot all the time on the air. He cried all the way to the bank.

I remember once sliding into second with the bases loaded in a baseball game. I broke up a double play, and forced the shortstop to throw the ball into the stands, over the head of the first baseman. This allowed the tying and winning runs to score on what could have been a game ending twin killing. I looked up at the shortstop that cursed me out and called me a ‘faggot,’ as the winning run crossed the plate.

“Pretty good for a faggot,” I replied.

I know the Human Rights Campaign has reacted with fury, declaring that it was “a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching. Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT people around the world, but also perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate.” They are right, Kobe was wrong, it’s cool he apologized right away.

As the Publisher and Editor of a major local gay newspaper, I have to condemn the comments as well. But I have heard them all my life in locker rooms, on ball yards, and in stadiums. It is not the worst thing in the world, and it’s not automatically presumptively homophobic hateful and hurt-intentional. It is a part of the culture of sports, the virility attributed to straight athletes, and the consequence of the incorrect perception that all things gay are effeminate.

Gay rodeos, swim teams, pool tournaments, softball leagues, rugby teams, as well as gay hockey and football tournaments disprove the myth of the heterosexual male being the only one to participate in sporting contests. Even gay polo, not to mention the beer drinking contest I lost at Sidelines last week. And to think my partner called me a ‘faggot’ cause I could not down 10 beers in 6 minutes.

Faggot I am. Faggot I be. So do something about it. I dare you.


BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS