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October 15, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Sports Is Gay

When former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy admitted that he is gay, the bad taste jokes practically wrote themselves. Ultimately, however, the consensus reaction was that it’s not really that big a deal.

While it made a pretty juicy tabloid story, former Welsh fullback Gareth Thomas met a similar reaction after announcing the same thing. Guys like McClatchy and Thomas (a gun try-scorer) help break down the rather strange stereotype that gay men are flowery and effeminate just because they watch a different kind of porn.

For a gay person, seeing someone like Thomas must be reassuring. He wants to be known as a rugby player who only happens to be gay—and it’s not like it changed the way he played. Athletes are a unique type of public figure. While they don’t write legislation, people love them for their sporting talents so they tend to have a disproportionate influence on society.

Further, they can reach demographics that are otherwise hard to access for the gay rights movement.
Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo caught national headlines when he publicly advocated gay marriage in a newspaper.

In response, a Maryland politician asked his franchise to gag their outspoken player. The Ravens, realising there might be something slightly undemocratic about inhibiting free expression, politely told the politician to shove it. Teammate Matt Birk then wrote about the importance of protecting the traditional marriage unit in a Minnessota newspaper.

To his credit, Birk—a Harvard graduate—wrote superbly and avoided simply parroting religious dogma.
The franchise actually encouraged both perspectives, recognising that BOTH want to make their country better, simply disagreeing on how to do it. And their reaction is something everyone can learn from.

As a supporter of gay marriage myself, it can be easy to shoot down its opponents as bigoted or backwards, but it’s important to remember that both sets of beliefs are sincerely held. It’s an educated mind that can respect and understand different ideas, but still reject them (Aristotle said that, right before saying you can’t believe everything you read on the internet).

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