I’m Gay And I’m Gonna Play

Here I am in my own little world thinking of baseball as a community sport. I praise it, I learn from it, and I enjoy it by cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays. And then, Yunel Escobar does this:

In his eye black, he wrote “You are gay” in Spanish. During a press conference in New York, he basically stated that he wrote it on a whim. Whether he did or didn’t, only he knows for sure.

There was a lot of reaction this week in Toronto. Every radio station I tuned into on Monday and Tuesday talked about Escobar. The opinions came from all spectrums. Some agreed with his action, most didn’t, some dismissed it as coming from an uneducated jock.

There’s no defending discriminatory slurs of any kind. I’m not sure that his three-day suspension and his $90 000 fine were enough, but that was the punishment passed down from Major League Baseball and the players’ union. To that, the Blue Jays are throwing in some sensitivity education for Escobar as well as some work with a gender equality outreach program.

According to Escobar, there are gays in his life, he is not homophobic, his eye black slur didn’t mean a thing, and, in his Latino background, maricon is just a joke. The interesting thing is that other Latino players on the team seem to support the latter view. So it’s a culture thing? Maybe?

Let me tell you about being allegedly gay. We have some Italian family friends who have known me since childhood. The women in the group are mostly around my mother’s age. Once I became old enough to date, they would ask in a conspiratorial tone if I had a boyfriend. The answer was always a truthful negative or “I just broke up with someone.” They would smile and say “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone.” As the years went on and no husband in site, I started getting pats on the hand accompanied by disappointed looks and head shakes. “Don’t you want to get married?” they asked. Or, “You can’t have a family without a husband.” There were also the looks exchanged when they thought I wouldn’t notice. It took a while, but I finally figured out that as all of their children were getting married and I was not,  they had decided that I was a lesbian. And as long as I didn’t flaunt my alleged lifestyle choice, they continued to accept me.

On one hand, I was ticked off because I wasn’t raised to feel that I needed a man in my life to be a woman. I’ll admit that I can see why these women thought I was gay. No man plus there is a masculine energy about me: partly due to a mom who wore the pants in the family, partly due to an all-girl school feminist education, and partly due to working in a male dominated industry. I probably possessed all the attributes of their lesbian stereotype. On the other hand, I couldn’t care less because I was not put on this earth to fit into their cultural and generational mindset. When I announced that I was engaged to 6-feet-230-lbs-of-male-muscle, they were relieved. I think some of them even crossed themselves.

Let’s face it, within our North American culture of equality for all, there are plenty of subcultures in which racist, agism, sexism, homophobia and more are promoted. Escobar, whether he intended to or not, slammed it in our faces. And that’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, the talk of gays in professional sports seems to have died down already. What I want to know is when are the professional gay athletes in the four major sports going to come out of the closet? Some do in retirement. Isn’t that playing into the very mindset we are, apparently, so appalled by?

This is by far the best scene in Valentine’s Day.

What do you think about players hiding their sexual orientation? Should this even be an issue that needs to be addressed? Do you think that movie scene would ever happen today in any of the four major sports?


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  1. #1 by Linda Ewart on September 23, 2012 - 11:37 PM

    Frankly I can’t see how anyone’s sexual orientation has anything to do with how they do their work. As it turns out I’m heterosexual, however, I’m not about to confess to the world what my favorite sexual position is- that’s a private thing and no ones business- just like it’s no ones business what my sexual orientation is, so why would I need to ‘confess’ it to anyone.
    It’s a non-issue and you’d really have to wonder why the Escobars of this world feel they need to make it an issue…..who was it said ‘methinks the lady doest protest too much’???

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on September 24, 2012 - 12:32 AM

      Well said Linda. In our careers, we should be judged by our work, not our personal choices. Escobar should have kept his personal issues off the field.

      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

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