Time to move past gay milestone?
Monday, February 24, 2014 9:00 PM
This is about hypocrisy.
News item No. 1: February is Black History Month.
News item No. 2: Two gay men are making athletic history.
It would be nice if those two items weren't connected, but they are. We, the folks in the media, drew the parallel in a most bizarre and unfortunate manner.
Let's start with the gay men.
Michael Sam, a former collegiate football player who is hoping to make the move to the National Football League, held a press conference recently to announce that he is gay. Apparently it wasn't a huge secret at his college, but it seems he wanted to be upfront about it since it would likely come out during his NFL audition.
The media jumped all over the story. If Sam made an NFL team he would be the first openly gay male athlete in any of the four major North American pro sports, football, basketball, baseball and soccer.
Turns out, though, he would not be.
NBA player Jason Collins told the world after last season that he was gay. At that time, Collins was an NBA veteran who had played professionally for more than a decade. However, he was not a great player and he didn't make any NBA team this year until the Brooklyn Nets signed him to a temporary contract. On Sunday, he played in the Nets' game against the Los Angeles Lakers and made history.
The sports media gave the story a significant amount of exposure. More than several made the point that now that these historic milestones have been reached, they hoped the athletic prowess of Messrs. Collins and Sam will be the topic of future discussions and not their sexual orientation.
For argument's sake let's say that being gay is not a choice but rather simply who someone is. A gay person has no more choice in the matter than let's say the color of their skin.
The sports media are ballyhooing the idea that we are all so advanced and so open-minded that we can - within 24 hours of the event - move past the social point that a gay man made history and simply concentrate on the X's and O's of the sport. Yet those same media pundits continually remind us that February is Black History Month, an event that is now decades old.
How can they say that it's time to move on from the historic event that Jason Collins created on Sunday when the sweat from his uniform hasn't even had time to dry while continuing to focus on African-American "firsts" in the world? Think that's an exaggeration? According to Wikipedia there have been 56 such events . . . since the year 2000.
If the media, and especially the sports media, has a true social conscience, how can they treat the two so very differently? This is not belittling the importance of Black History Month. It's not about diminishing a historic moment in the gay community. The point is that the media want to revere one while moving past the other.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.