Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 8:55 am | Partly Cloudy 53º


Harris Sherline: OK, So You’re Gay ... Who Cares?

In case you missed it, Jason Collins, who is a black professional basketball player, declared to the world that he is gay. The reaction was pretty much “over-the-top” supportive of his declaration, including President Barack Obama, who called to “congratulate” him, and former President Bill Clinton, who “praised Collins for his courage.”

The following are my initial reactions: Who cares? Does the public have a right to know? Why does it matter? Why would the president of the United States bother to call him?

In a commentary, Steve Pauwels noted:

“... five more American troops killed in Afghanistan the past day or two. Will they be hailed as ‘courageous’ everywhere you look ... ?”

“... will an avalanche of commentators talk about how ‘proud’ they are of them ...”

“... will high government officials telephone their families to express admiration?”

“Just wondering — because a professional athlete who ‘came out’ with a fashionable, politically correct admission this past week got that treatment: I think maybe these others, most of whom gave their lives keeping barbarians at bay, deserve at least the same.”

I have never understood why people who are gay often seem to be anxious to openly declare their sexuality to anyone and everyone. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no one’s business except, of course, that of their “significant other” and their friends and family.

What would be the reaction if heterosexual people were to suddenly start declaring that they are attracted to others of the opposite sex? I can tell you, because it happens all the time: Nothing.

We see open displays of explicit sex on the television 24/7, with wall-to-wall programming that is clearly intended to titillate viewers.

And, well-known TV personalities now seem to want to tell the world that they are gay. During ABC’s Good Morning America program, Sam Champion celebrated his “marriage” to Rubem Robierb.

Entertainment reporter Lara Spencer said: “We have so many stories to tell you this morning, including the surprising story of this woman. She is accused of being, we're not making this up, too sexy for her job. Her boss said she was too distracting and was actually threatening his marriage. But that's where the outrage begins — because she's the one who lost her job, not him."

Then she turned to Champion: "Yeah, it's controversial, indeed, but this isn't. We have such great news to share with everybody, the best news of all. Sam Champion, everybody, getting married over the weekend. ... New York Judge George Silver performed the ceremony, which lasted about 10 minutes.” Spencer attended, and added: “I will tell you, one of my favorite gifts of the year, being there when Sam and Rubem got married on Friday night. ... Just a beautiful moment. Beautiful. There's a shot. It was very intimate, very special, very heartfelt."

We have come a long way since the days when gay athletes such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova “lost fans and endorsements” because they openly declared that they were gay.

Radio and television personality Larry Elder compared Collins' situation with that of Jackie Robinson, who lived in “fear of getting thrown out of the arena or getting beaten up by outraged fans.” Elder further commented, “Will Collins' teammates, as in Robinson’s case, pass around a petition signed by a number of teammates, stating they refuse to play with him? Will arenas require gay fans to sit apart from nongay fans the way many stadiums segregated black fans from white fans during Robinson’s era?

“Will they tell gay reporters, as they did black reporters during Robinson’s day, to sit in the stands, typewriter on the lap, rather than in the press booth with the other reporters? Tolerance cuts both ways.”

Elder also asked, “What happens to a player who says, 'I think homosexuality is a sin' or 'Got no problem playing with or against him, but I don’t approve of his lifestyle'? Or a player who asks, ‘What’s all this business about ‘bravery’? What Collins does behind closed doors is his business. Why do I need to know about it?”

Finally, Elder said, “Want political controversy? How about an athlete or Hollywood star ‘coming out’ as an Iraq War-supporting, tax-cutting, Obamacare-opposing ... conservative! With Collins coming out, the NBA has exactly one more openly gay player than it has who is openly Republican.”

As the title of this commentary notes, who cares?

— Harris Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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