Fresh Takes Opinion — 10 May 2013
danner_column_sigTravis Danner
Editor-in-chief

For a culture so obsessed with all things sexual, one man’s preference sure is a big deal.

Most of you know the story by now. Seven foot tall NBA center Jason Collins is the first active athlete in any of the four major American sports (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA) to come out as a gay man. He did so in a moving article written for Sports Illustrated.

The mostly positive response to the news is a good barometer of how far America has come on the issue of gay rights.

But let’s be real. It still bothers a fair amount of people — the idea of man-on-man sex bothers some people, a lot.

Straight sex, even woman-on-woman sex, not so much. The hypocrisy of the American public on issues of sexuality is vast and at times has crossed over into violence.

The shapeless mass otherwise known as Rush Limbaugh weighed in, predictably enough, that the news of Collins coming out had been “rammed down people’s throats.”

Sad as it makes me to say it, he may have a point. The cynic in me says that Collins coming-out was a well-timed public relations move from a player on the verge of ending his career.

But there’s more at play in Limbaugh’s comments than all that.

That particular phrase is popular in conservative circles, as it plays on people of that political inclinations inherent homophobia. I think if you really think about it, you can figure out why.

It’s a coded message of hate aimed at people who are actively searching to have theirs justified.

Here comes the hypocrisy. Those very same people — the conservatives, the overly religious, Fox News viewers, the elderly who come from a time when hatred of gays was not only accepted but commonplace — they all are quick to forgive sexual misbehavior in their own ranks.

These are just a few examples of conservative sexual scandals and the following people are all Republicans.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich cheated on his second wife with his eventual third wife and was so well-thought of later, he was a serious contender to win the party’s Presidential nomination in 2012.

Mark Sanford, the former Governor of South Carolina, disappeared from the state in 2009, reappeared, claimed he was “hiking the Appalachian trail,” and in reality was using taxpayer money to fly to Argentina to sleep with his mistress. He was allowed to finish his term as Governor and recently won a primary as the party’s choice to run for a seat in the House of Representatives.

David Vitter, Louisiana Senator, was found to have frequented a prostitution service. He quickly called a press conference and asked for “forgiveness.” He is still serving in the United States Senate.

For some LGBT Americans, forgiveness is no longer possible.

Collins, during his career, decided to wear the number 98. The number has great significance in the gay community.

1998 was the year that 21-year-old gay American Matthew Shepard was tortured and murdered. His killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, claimed in their defense that they were driven to do it because they were driven to temporary insanity because of Shepard’s sexual advances.

They beat him and left him tied to a fence, and he later died as a result.

Or there is the story of Brandon Teena, portrayed in the 1999 film “Boy’s Don’t Cry.” An anatomical female, Teena identified as a male. When his secret was discovered, he was raped, assaulted and killed.

These are just a few examples of anti-LGBT violence. There are many more.

Homophobes and bigots typically deride homosexuality as a deviance or a sin.

If people want to talk about deviance, go on the internet sometime. In many corners, it’s a cesspool of the worst examples of human sexuality. Many of it so-called “straight” sex.

According to a 2007 report on CBS’ 60 Minutes, pornography generates $10 billion a year.

Deviant sexual behavior has become mainstream.

The internet has opened the pandora’s box for sexuality — what was once conducted in the darkness is now in the light for everyone to see.

Almost everyone has sex eventually and everything sexual has been tried.

So, if you can follow my logic, as long as it’s consensual and the people are of age, who cares?

There should be no distinction between gay and straight sex as long as the parties involved are OK with what’s happening.

It’s hard to foresee what, if anything, will be the end result of Jason Collins’ outing himself publicly.

With any luck, more gay athletes will trickle out of the closet until there’s a flood of tolerance and acceptance not just in sports, but in all of life.

We haven’t seen the full impact of Jason Collins’ outing himself. We won’t see that until he hits the court again and we see how the crowds react across America.

The response, so far, has been mostly positive — but obviously, we still have so more ground to go.

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We are the award-winning student newspaper of Las Positas College in Livermore, Calif.

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