I'm no follower of sports. I'm a homosexual. That means I'm exempt from watching sports. I don't even like the "gay" ones, like ice skating. Power drinking, competitive sleeping, professional bubble bath taking...these are my ideas of sports (though, I don't expect crowds to cheer me as I play them).
So, it will come as no surprise that until yesterday I had never even heard of Tim Hardaway. But there on my email news was the story of how this athletic superstar, Tim Hardaway, proudly announced in an interviewed that he hates gay people! Hates. Of course, as unenlightened as his view is, he had even more to say. In the end, he didn't seem like a very nice person and many of his associates who do want to be nice people, or who at least want to be viewed as nice people, distanced themselves from him.
The days when public figures can openly declare their hatred of entire groups of people is coming to an end (thank gods). People may continue to judge and condemn others because of racial, ethnic, or religious differences or because of sexual orientation, but they can no longer be celebrated for their bigotry. That's not just who we want to be. We want being human to mean something a bit nobler than that. Hallelujah!
Now, who cares if some ball bouncing celebrity can't cope with the diversity of the human family and thinks he has the right to say so across the air ways? Well, we all should as it turns out. When people of influence inject hatred and intolerance into the lifestream of society, it infects others. When enough people are sick with the disease of hatred, they behave reprehensibly. For example, on Valentine's Day in Jamaica, a few young men in a pharmacy were thought to be gay and were harassed as a result. One thing led to another and an hour later the police are gasing a crowd of 2000 people in order to get the men out safely. One of the men was beaten and some members of the mob hurled degrading and dehumanizing insults (and at least one stone) at the young men. The crowd demanded that the men be released to them and at least one person in the crowd called for the men's deaths!
One woman went so far as to blame the victims of the mob violence! She said the dress and demeanor of the men amounted to "flaunting" their sexuality, and in her mind, that justified gang violence and attempted murder.
The Hardaway incident and the Jamaican incident were unrelated, but then again, not. When clergy, politicians, parents, and celebrities preach and promote hatred, they are creating an atmosphere where the "other" is viewed as subhuman, and once a person is no longer a person in the eyes of potential attackers, there is nothing to prevent rabid violence. When people like Hardaway (or the pope or a political candidate or radio "shock jock" or a hyper-religious blood thirsty Hollywood film-maker, etc.) dehumanize gay people, they encourage ignorance, hatred, and violence.
Never mind "Love your neighbor." I'll settle of the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I bet Hardaway doesn't want people to say that a cultural or subcultural group to which he belongs is detestable. I bet no one in the crowd on Valentine's Day would have wanted to trade places with the young men in the pharmacy. You don't have to understand others, agree with others, or like them. But why publically vilify, humiliate, or threaten them? When we deny the humanity of others, we diminish our own. So yes, Mr. Hardaway, I do hold you responsible for some of the homohatred in the world. But not just you...anyone and everyone who uses influence to degrade and damage the lives of others. Let's just fix all this foolishness right now...say it with me, "Gay is Good." And so it is.