Lakers and Faggots and Bears, Oh My!
When gay life collides with the mainstream sports world, it seems to happen in clusters. Two weeks ago we saw a peculiar convergence, and last week, yet another.
We’re already bored with Kobe Bryant’s latest faux pas. Moments after the news broke about him muttering “fucking faggot” to a zebra, we knew exactly what the ensuing hours and days would feature: damage control kicking into high gear by the Lakers’ PR team, NBA brass mouthing additional nonsense, and the Repeat Offender himself, issuing a (non) apology and then embarking on a mea culpa, stations of the cross tour, one that hit all the right destinations of Gay, Inc., (HRC – Human Rights Campaign) and GLAAD - The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
These two groups must’ve been on the Lakers’ front office speed-dial, because in no time at all, calls were being made and joint statements released. F Kobe and the remorse he rode in on. He really matter doesn’t matter, and this little brush fire he ignited has alreay flickered out. Hockey matters, not Kobe’s silly little sport.
The far more important news of diversity and tolerance in sports, whether on court, ice or turf, often happens in out-of-the-way places such as Hershey, Pennsylvania, and again to their credit, GLAAD had a piece of that action too.
Making some major, minor league hockey news (stick tap to Emily of Japer’s Rink), was Abigail Habbert and her partner, both fans and season ticket holders of the Hershey Bears, the Caps kick-ass AHL squad. Starting in January, some fucktwit fans were hurling anti-gay slurs around the stands. Abigail stepped up and lodged a complaint with Bears management. Despite the team’s security head confronting the alleged vulgarians, the taunting continued.
Then some forward progress:
Abigail reached out to GLAAD, and this week it was discovered that the team had actually been speaking with the wrong fans. The head of stadium security told us they’ve found the actual parties responsible for night after night of homophobic slurs being shouted.
Hershey Entertainment Complex Security Director Jason White told us his crew will soon be working on an announcement that will play during games, warning fans that discriminatory conduct or language will not be tolerated.
Progress indeed and attagirl Abigail for following through. We guess Gay Inc., can serve a role in situations like Kobe the Klown or the Bears Boors, but we’ll suggest other strategies that may end up having more teeth.
Of course whenever a household name like Bryant drops an F Bomb, the righteous indignation squads will suit up for battle and that’s probably a good thing. Even better perhaps is the spade work done by heroes in the straight community who work tirelessly to build bridges and educate the teams and wider public.
Seen in these pages before has been the work of the Fabulous Burke Boys, Leaf’s GM Brian and his son Patrick of the Flyers, who both carry the torch of their Brendan. On behalf of better understanding and true inclusion and acceptance, Brian and Patrick have rekindled a light that was extinguished much too early.
Another bright star in this effort is Hudson Taylor, All-American wrestler and coach of the Columbia University team (Go Lions!). Hudson started Athlete Ally last year, “as a resource to encourage athletes, coaches, parents, fans and other members of the sports community to respect all individuals involved in sports, regardless of perceived or actual sexual-orientation or gender identity or expression.” In just a few short months, AA has already made considerable inroads with school athletic departments (including one that a dear friend and old football teammate is a Lax coach at – Go Bobcats!).
There’s one other straight ally we’ll mention, even though we often find it difficult to spit out his name – Sean Avery. But after yesterday’s narrow, last-minutes loss to his loathsome Rangers, compounded by his hooliganism and the.worst.zebras.ever. (unindicted co-conspirators), we’ll leave it at that. We look forward to Wednesday, Sean.
Our other suggestion for fans that find themselves in the same place as Abigail and her gal pal – whip out the camera and document the inappropriate behavior – then ship us the file. We’ll make the offenders
famous, infamous, and quite possibly instant Internet pariahs, too. (If it’s not streamed online, it never happened).
We won’t ever discount the work of organizations like HRC and GLAAD, but to us however, nothing guarantees inaction and perpetuating the status
queer quo quite like the public relations drag show that is a carefully crafted and nuanced press release. And someone needs to explain to us – is the word ‘faggot’ so radioactive that neither of these organizations can even spell it out in their press releases? “…f***ing f***ot,” was all we saw.
We’ve been known to toss the word around once or twice, but maybe because we can, being fags ourselves gives us the right to use it, no? Someone who dares embrace the word fag is our new pal Ricky of TheSportsFag dot com. That URL has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? Ricky does some quality work and last week offered us some space for a guest post. We told the short story of this site so far, still in its infancy, yet playing in the increasingly busy intersection of sexuality and sport. We wanted to share what we’ve found perhaps to be most gratifying from our four short months – a nascent readership that largely hails from outside of the gay community:
…we went on the hunt for a readership, one that might get the concept and appreciate an unorthodox take on the sport. Lo and behold we found it and it wasn’t at all what we’d expected. The gay crowd didn’t take to us nearly as fast as the straight hockey community did… We’ve been embraced and welcomed by the mainstream sports media, fellow Caps hockey bloggers and fans of many stripes.
Hockey has proven to be the great equalizer. You won’t see us on Sports Center or in the nation’s editorial pages leading the charge for gay diversity in sports, that isn’t our mission. We’re here to document the convergence of gay life and one of the most heterosexual outposts in the solar system, NHL hockey. And next season? We’d love to see sharks.puckpuddys.com; bruins.puckbuddys.com or even God forbid, rangers.puckbuddys.com.
Granted, our readership is relatively small, but from those few numbers that put up with these occasional shenanigans, we’ve already made some new great friends.
Hockey – Is there anything it can’t do?