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The NBA’s Jason Collins Comes Out

NBA Center Jason Collins comes out. We talk about what it means to be openly gay in sports and beyond.

In a Wednesday, April 17, 2013 file photo, Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, right, battles for a rebound against Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago. (AP)

In a Wednesday, April 17, 2013 file photo, Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, right, battles for a rebound against Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago. (AP)

NBA man-in-the-middle Jason Collins has just wrapped up a season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent.  Not a huge story, until you add one ingredient.  He is, as of yesterday, the first ever openly gay male athlete still active in a major American team sport.

It’s a big step for him and for the others who may follow his lead.  So far the response from the court of public opinion, from fellow players and the NBA brass has been overwhelmingly positive.  Is this a tipping point in major American sports?

This hour, On Point: The NBA’s Jason Collins takes center court.

Guests

Franz Lidz, co-authored with NBA free agent Jason Collins the cover story in the May 6th issue of Sports Illustrated: “Why NBA center Jason Collins is coming out now.”

Kevin Blackistone, teaches sports journalism at the University of Maryland. Panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn. (@profblackistone)

LZ Granderson, journalist and commentator for CNN and ESPN. 2008 and 2010 honoree of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for column writing. (@locs_n_laughs)

Martina Navratilova, tennis legend, winner of 59 Grand Slam crowns, and a record 9 Wimbledon singles championships. One of the first openly gay sports figures. (@martina)

Show Excerpts

On Point guest host Jane Clayson asked Navratilova about how being a gay athlete was different for men and women:

JANE CLAYSON: Is this at all different, Martina Navratilova for male athletes than for female athletes? Is there a culture within big game sports that makes being gay harder for a male than for a female athlete?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well I think a lot of straight girls don’t even go into sports because they don’t want to be bullied and be called a lesbian. It’s like if you’re an athlete woman out there, you have to prove your heterosexuality. For guys it’s the other way around. When you’re playing football it’s assumed you are straight because, of course, gay guys are sissies and they wouldn’t want to play football! And so it’s almost understood that of course you are straight because this is a macho sport.

But on the other hand to me, it would make it easier for me to come out because I am obviously so macho: I am playing football, so you have a problem with my sexuality? Really? Watch me tackle. Watch me run with the ball. So it’s funny that it’s taken this long.

But again for team sport athletes it’s much more difficult, because they could totally be blackballed out of the league.

We were also joined by openly gay journalist and commentator LZ Granderson, who used a personal story to reflect on the importance of athletes being able to be open about their sexual orientation:

LZ GRANDERSON: I’ll give you some full disclosure. I was approached by a closeted gay athlete – I’m gay. And this athlete was interested in dating me, and you know he was cool or whatever, but I said to him: was he willing to have me sit in the family and friends section of the arena? And was he willing to have me attend events with him as his date? Because if he wasn’t willing to do that, then I wasn’t willing be his boyfriend.

That’s not advertising one’s sexual orientation, that’s just being treated as a human being and as a loving couple and as an equal. So the fact that these individuals that are still closeted in the big four sports don’t feel comfortable bringing their loved ones to the family and friends section isn’t about advertising or shoving anything down anyone’s throat, it’s about being able to live like a whole human being like everyone else.

You don’t think you’re asking someone’s sexual orientation when you say things like, are you married? But you are. Because if they reveal the gender of the person that you are married to, you indirectly have asked that person’s sexual orientation. Just because you haven’t say the word “gay,” doesn’t mean you aren’t asking if they are.

From The Reading List

Sports Illustrated: Why NBA center Jason Collins is coming out now – “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Los Angeles Times: Brittney Griner acknowledges she’s gay, says ‘just be who you are’ — “Ex-Baylor star Brittney Griner likes to remind all the girls and young women who idolize her to just be themselves and not worry what others think. Griner was doing just that this week while discussing her sexual orientation, apparently for the first time with the media. The new member of the Phoenix Mercury, chosen No. 1 overall in Monday’s WNBA, did not make a big deal about the fact that she is a lesbian, making no big coming-out announcement.”

The Boston Herald: Jason Collins gets ball rolling for all players in closet — “True, you can make the case that the conversation has been ongoing for some time now. But what Washington Wizards (and former Boston Celtics) center Jason Collins has done, via his coming-out essay in Sports Illustrated, is crank up the volume to such a degree that his voice, his message, is going to be clanging off the walls of locker rooms across North America and beyond for a long, long time.”

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  • Steve__T

    I could care less who is and who isn’t gay.

    For those of you who want something to sink their teeth into that is relevant check out this vid about Why bankers don’t go to jail. This was shown on Bill Moyers in Feb.

        http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/videos/why-bankers-dont-go-to-jail-taibbi-visits-with-bill-moyers-20130204

  • responseTwo

    Sorry to be off point, I rarely do this.

    Congressional hearing on chronic unemployment held on Wednesday, only one senator (Amy Klobuchar) even bothered showing up. Photographs of the dark, empty chamber spoke a thousand words.
    http://www.harmonycentral.com/t5/The-Political-Party/Unemploy-Hearing-Attended-By-Single-Member-of-Congress-At/m-p/35332443

    Plant in Texas explodes. It kills and wounds countless people and no one is responsible. 

    President Obama signed legislation Monday that rolled back a provision of the STOCK Act that required high-ranking federal employees to disclose their financial information online. Monday the president signed S. 716, which repealed a requirement of the Stop Trading on Congressional knowledge (STOCK) Act requiring the disclosure, which had previously been delayed several times by Congress.

    And NPR is talking about war, terror, and sports.

    • J__o__h__n

      It is disgusting that the building owner in Bangladesh will probably be punished more severly than the owner of the exploding plant will be. 

    • northeaster17

      That plant in the middle of a town. How could they have forseen such a thing. Condi we miss you

    • AC

      you’re right, i rather would talk about this. there are reports that the building owners failed to do many things that could have prevented it…i’d like to know more

      • J__o__h__n

        There are two hours.  The “aren’t there more important topics” comment comes up when the show is on race, women, or gays. 

        • AC

          really? i wonder if they track that somewhere? it’s true, i’m totally underwhelmed by this topic. i did like the man who called in and said it was good for kids who are struggling with it finally having a role model. in that respect, i guess this is an important move. i forget what it’s like because i don’t know any teenagers anymore. also, i’m not very sporty so have no insight into that industry..
          otherwise – i’ve never not known gay people. they’re totally just people. who cares?

    • Gregg Smith

      The plant explosion is odd. I’ve worked with Ammonium Nitrate and dynamite. The two make a potent mix but by itself it’s just fertilizer. McVeigh soaked it in diesel to make it explode. It makes corn grow, you can buy it at the hardware store. 

    • Steve__T

       I posted on these very same items a week ago, still no response from ON POINT. As far as the plant, OSHA had not inspected it in more than 5 years. That alone would be a good point to discuss.

      • nj_v2

        I’m still begging for just one program on steady-state economics (as opposed to the prevalent and rarely questioned growth model) as we careen from one bubble to the next, with dwindling finite resources, peak oil, unsustainable industrial agriculture…

  • Ray in VT

    I figured that it was only a matter of time before an active pro came out.  I was heartened to see some of the positive comments out there yesterday from a number of high profile active players, but I was also not surprised by some of the negative comments as well.  Hopefully, at some point, this will be a non issue for both players and the public.

    • hennorama

      Indeed, as the number of “first” increases, such issues fade into the background.

      Next!

  • Gregg Smith

    I really couldn’t care less and am amazed anyone does care. 

    • 1Brett1

      Yet, you don’t believe same sex couples should get married, that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman.

      • Gregg Smith

        I’m all for civil unions. Are you saying opposing gay marriage is anti-gay? That’s weird. Marriage IS defined as being between one man and one woman it’s not a matter of should.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9M0xcs2Vw4&feature=player_embedded

        • 1Brett1

          The problem with civil unions is that in a lot of states a “civil union” still prevents partners from having certain rights and privileges that a married couple would have. Also, if one has a civil union in one state where a civil union is treated legally as a marriage, then moves to another (because of a job or whatever) that does not honor civil unions, then there might not be any recognition of, say, things like visiting a sick partner in an IC unit, or receiving that which is bequeathed in a will, or certain privileges with taxes, or being able to be put on a family insurance policy, and so on. 

          • 1Brett1

            Gregg,

            The definition of marriage will change for same-sex couples who would like to enjoy all of the benefits of marriage, but it won’t change for opposite-sex couples who wish to enjoy the benefits of marriage, unless all benefits of all married folks change and become uniform. Are you afraid opposite-sex couples may lose some of their legal benefits? And, in the remote chance that they do, are those legal benefits that they should exclusively have by virtue of their opposite-sex marriage?

          • Gregg Smith

            I honestly have no idea what you are referring to. I have never heard or imagined that couples would lose any legal benefits (whatever that means) if gay marriage becomes the law of the land.

          • 1Brett1

            You are being purposely obtuse if you say you have no idea about the legal benefits of marriage.

          • Gregg Smith

            Heterosexual marriage, under the law, would not change a millisquidgeon if  gay marriage were legal. I’ve never heard anyone claim it would. I don’t get it. I’m obtuse but not on purpose, it’s my nature.

            I have heard the claim that those opposed think it would affect it but only from others telling people what they think. I have never heard the actual complaint from those opposed.

          • Ray in VT

            “It not only is a complete undermining of the principles of family and
            marriage and the hope of future generations, but it completely begins to
            see our society break down to the extent that that foundational unit of
            the family that is the hope of survival of this country is diminished
            to the extent that it literally is a threat to the nation’s survival in
            the long run.”Trent Franks (R-AZ).”Would we be discouraging
            heterosexual marriage by allowing gay marriage?” host Bill O’Reilly
            asked.
            “Yeah, I believe we would,”  Santorum answered.”And that’s why it [same-sex marriage] will destroy marriage. It will
            undermine the traditional relationship between men and women.”  James Dobson.

          • Gregg Smith

            Heterosexual marriage, under the law, would not change a millisquidgeon if  gay marriage were legal. I’ve never heard anyone claim it would.-Myself

            Your quotes don’t dispute that.Think.

          • Ray in VT

            Correct, under the law gay marriage would not alter your marriage or mine.  Gay marriage in no ways alters the legal contract that exists between any married straight people.

            I presented quotes that did not address your exact point, although they are very much in line with the general conservative argument that gay marriage undermines the institution, its value and its meaning.  Legally, though, nothing changed when it passed here.  The sky didn’t fall, and no one is marrying animals.

          • Gregg Smith

            It’s my opinion that it does undemine the institution.

          • Ray in VT

            How?

          • Ray in VT

            Also, if we have now established that gay marriage, as a legal institution, in no way legally affects the civil contract that is a marriage license, then why oppose it?

          • Gregg Smith

            i understand all of that. I live in such a state. NC doesn’t recognize common law marriage either. We had a referendum a while back to change our State Constitution, I voted against it but my side lost. I’m not moving.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/amendment-one-north-carolina_n_1501308.html

          • 1Brett1

            No, I’m not talking about your situation. Here’s the deal, you live in a state that bans both civil unions and same sex marriage. If you lived in, say, a state that found civil unions legal (your situation) then moved to a state where they weren’t and were thrown off of a life insurance policy, health insurance policy, prevented from seeing your partner in an IC unit, etc., and you had previously had such rights and privileges, is more of what I’m talking about.The argument of “I don’t care and I’m in a civil union” does not make a strong point.

          • Gregg Smith

            Gay marriage has all the same implications regarding state to state discrepancies as civil unions. And my situation is not a civil union, I’m in NC they are not legal. I have been kept out of the ER. Been there done that. I still have the same opinion.

          • 1Brett1

            That’s why civil unions and gay marriages should either be uniform with opposite sex marriages or no union should have special rights and privileges. 

        • 1Brett1

          Who said you are anti-gay? Why do you oppose gay marriage?

          • Gregg Smith

            No one, I inferred it so I asked the question. 

            I just think marriage is a charming and age old tradition centered around family and progeny. It has always been that way. I have other lessor reasons but I’ll keep them to myself for the sake of focus. This show wasn’t about gay marriage and I am reluctant to flesh out the slippery slope arguments on this blog.

            I’ll tell you this, it’s not an issue I am passionate about one way or the other. I oppose it but not with every fiber of my being.

          • 1Brett1

            So if a heterosexual couple has no children, doesn’t intend to have children, and has no family of any kind other than the two of them, they have an invalid marriage that shouldn’t be recognized in society/under the law?

            And, then, of course, there are those other reasons besides (in your view) preventing gay marriage because they shouldn’t have any children, they are not honoring tradition and they destroy the charm of marriage. I guess considering all of this, we don’t really want to hear the reasons you DON’T want to express on this forum.

          • Gregg Smith

            Please don’t tell me what I think.

          • 1Brett1

            Please don’t ever tell us what you think.

          • Gregg Smith

            I’m all about telling you what I think, that’s what I do.

      • disqus_fw2Bu1dEsd

        Well, i can’t say you get points for originality, but you can spell. Neatness counts!

        • 1Brett1

          ? Or, you could just state your point for your trolling, couldn’t you?

          • Gregg Smith

            Maybe he/she was being satirically facetious.

    • nj_v2

      [[ I really couldn't care less and am amazed anyone does care. ]]

      Tells one all one needs to know about the right-wing mindset.
      Doesn’t affect me, so i don’t care.

      Discrimination, abuse, harassment, and assaults continue on people because of their sexual preference.

      That a prominent athlete makes such a public declaration, and that this could help, at least in some small way, to shift perceptions, to dissipate some of the bigotry, to help empower others who feel they have to hide who they are…we’ll none of that matters to people like Greggg.

      • notafeminista

        So…the implication being that if someone is assaulted or abused for something OTHER than sexual preference, that’s somehow more acceptable?  Or less offensive?

      • Gregg Smith

        That’s silly. Discrimination, abuse, harassment, and assaults are illegal. 

        • Ray in VT

          Gays and lesbians are not a class of people that are generally protected, at least at the Federal level and probably in many states, under anti discrimination laws, so various types of discrimination, in terms of hiring, firing, renting, etc., are perfectly legal in some places, just so long as it is done against the right people.

          • Gregg Smith

            I will admit I don’t know all the laws in all the States but discrimination doesn’t bother me much especially in the private sector. I have nothing against butt ugly people but I would not hire one as a receptionist. I have nothing against short people but I would not hire one to model big and tall wardrobe for a catalog. These people were born that way and it’s not their fault but still…

          • nj_v2

            Why stop there with what you don’t know?

          • Gregg Smith

            Because there isn’t enough space.

          • Ray in VT

            Discrimination bothers me, no matter what sector in which it occurs.  I think that it is very different to fire or not hire someone because they literally cannot do the heavy lifting that a job might require versus firing someone who is doing the job fine because he or she is gay, or left-handed, or Muslim or in an inter-racial relationship or whatever.  We’ve gotten rid of the “Irish need not apply” type of discrimination and the whites only lunch counters, and I do not have the qualms regarding the Civil Rights Act that Senator Rand Paul has cited.

          • Gregg Smith

            Discrimination is necessary and good. I’m not talking about breaking the law, i’m talking about the freedom to decide who to hire. I doubt you would hire Ed75 but maybe you would. Or me for that matter but I’m available as editor for your AGW newsletter and I’m qualified. It’s always okay to discriminate against religious or conservative white males. It happens every day.

            We have a gay guy working for us feeding horses. We hired him about 6 months ago. He’s great, the moms love him. I won’t say he’s a flamer but he is very festive. If he were to express his sexuality in an overt manner we would fire him just like we did the girl who refused to wear a bra or keep her suggestive tattoo covered. 

          • Ray in VT

            Well, if the law says that it is okay to discriminate in hiring when it comes to sexual orientation, then one cannot break the law by refusing to hire a gay man or a lesbian.

            I do not see discrimination as being either necessary or good, and I don’t see discrimination in hiring, firing or serving people as having anything to do with “freedom”, at least in any way that the general American public has envisioned since the fall of Jim Crow. I would hire Ed if he were qualified to do the job.  I would not hire you to do with anything regarding climate change, unless I was looking for someone who could give me the latest news from the energy companies or the creationists on the subject. I’d much rather hire my friend who has a Geology Ph.D. from Oxford for such a task.  He’s pretty up on the science.

            So you would fire your gay employee if he were to overtly express his sexuality.  Please define that.  What if he talked about his boyfriend?  Is that enough?

            Oh, the poor, poor white religious men.  They are truly the most put upon minority in America.  It must be tough to be one.  The terrible injustices that they have suffered is probably what led some to form the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

          • Gregg Smith

            Affirmative action discriminates against whites. No one denies it they just say there is good reason. Do you think discrimination is good regarding affirmative action?

          • Ray in VT

            I havevoicedmy doubts about thatpreviously. Doyou thinkthatallowingbusinesses tohangupa whitesonly sign is freedom and acceptable in a modern society?

          • Ray in VT

            It also depends uponhow one definesaffirmativeaction. Quotashavebeenruledout, but quitea few nondiscrimination measures havebeenundertakensincethe 1960s toattempttoensure thatracial minoritiesand womenget a fair shake.

  • Ed75

    If one is saying that this person is acknowledging part of themselves and what they live with – same sex attraction – and it is best faced and not held in fear, and not discriminated against, that is one thing.

    If one is combining it with our society’s incorrect idea that ‘every person has a right to sexual expression’ and so is approving of homosexual sexual activity, that’s another, and can’t be approved, as many heterosexual acts are immoral, and can’t be approved.

    On the other hand, one is interested in how he plays basketball!

    • 1Brett1

      “…and not held in fear, and not discriminated against, that is one thing.”

      “If one is combining it with our society’s incorrect idea that ‘every person has a right to sexual expression’ and so is approving of homosexual sexual activity, that’s another, and can’t be approved.”

      These two ideas are opposed to each other, unless one believes a homosexual should either change his/her sexual orientation or stay celibate and never discuss the sexual part of homosexuality.

      • J__o__h__n

        Pope somebody probably advocated your last paragraph. 

    • AC

      i was trying to think of something to help you stop being so scared of what amounts to nothing, but i’m assuming you’re 75?, so i think you’re set in your ways no matter how anyone tries to reassure you….

      • J__o__h__n

        I thought he was born in ’75 and was just behind the times.  Perhaps it is his IQ. 

    • J__o__h__n

      Homosexuality is no more immoral than being lefthanded.  How many centuries did the the Church consider that to be sinister?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Sinister? Adroitly put.

        • hennorama

          Adroitly put?  Touché.  Très drôle, monsieur.

  • northeaster17

    The professional sport machismo is finally looking in he mirror. They are no different than the rest of us. Sometimes worse but they are us. They just play ball. The fact that it took a pro this long to come out shows it’s more of their problem than one for the rest of us who don’t play so well. Move on or enjoy watching ESPN spin into a pretzel. I like pretzels.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    I heard someone yesterday compare Mr. Collins courage to that  of Jackie Robinson.   Really?

    Does anyone really care about Mr. Collins sexual preferences?

    Well, Michelle Obama did tweet her support so I guess this does warrant an entire show.  There really isn’t much else going on these days.

  • donniethebrasco

    The only problem is that his number is going to be 18:22

  • DrewInGeorgia

    It has long been a non-issue with me, it’s none of my business. Judge not and all that… I do find it somewhat unsettling though that “coming out” in a welcoming climate is being applauded as bravery. Is it courageous to do that which is now in vogue? Certainly I deserve some flak for the observation, but is it wrong?

    I’m sick of hearing celebrities who are currently “coming out” in today’s open atmosphere compared to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. or the Freedom Riders. If the contrasts aren’t obvious to those making the comparisons, they are blind.

    What once enraged is now endorsed.
    There is nothing heroic about self-promotion.

    • J__o__h__n

      I think there could be an element of self promotion here as he is a player of average ability nearing the end of his career so why not go out as an historic figure (I hope this isn’t the case). 

      You are minimizing the lack of equal rights that many gays still face (unlike other groups there are no protections in several states) .  The fact that there are gay celebrities doesn’t mean that the problem is solved any more than electing a black president ended racism or that Oprah is so rich and popular ended problems for blacks and women.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        I am not minimizing anything.
        I applaud those who seek equality on any front.
        Yes the persecutors are still out there,
        but so are the profiteers.

        Cynical I know, which is why I added the throw-me-flak disclaimer.

  • donniethebrasco

    Without criminals, there would be no Kennedys.

    Without gays, there would be no church.

    • disqus_fw2Bu1dEsd

      Thank you Anita…

  • toc1234

    Good for J Collins but this is a yawn for society.  which is good.  (another example was a long time Boston sports writer came out a couple yrs ago…  again good for him but no one really cared.  people were like lets get back to talking about the Pats)  altho I’m sure the LGBT activists (and professional liberals) will find every moron who says something stupid.  sometimes it seems they are more about “hey, pay attention to me!” than actually trying to do good. again, good for JC, and hopefully it does help others but I really don’t care about his personal life…

  • David Bean

    He needed to get out there with this while he still had a chance to make a name for himself as “The First.” Ho hum. 

  • Jim

    i still remember Karl Malone having an issue when Magic decided to play when is openly HIV positive. now, i want to see if people in the NBA have an issue over the gay issue. it will be interesting. we shall see next year.

  • creaker

    Oh dear – now people won’t be able to continue pretending there were never any gay sports players out there. I hope they can deal with it.

  • donniethebrasco

    I’ll come out for $5MM/year.

    • nj_v2

      How much would it take to keep you from posting horse excrement on the forum?

      • notafeminista

        What do you get paid?

        • StilllHere

          He gets paid in horse excrement.

          • nj_v2

            I hear pathetic little squeaky noises. Must be StillAtroll and his troll posse.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    For the sportswriters re locker room dynamics: If a gay player on a team long eliminated from playoff contention came out with, say, eight games left in a season going nowhere, how much of a disruption would that be, and wouldn’t that bode poorly for his future?

  • disqus_fw2Bu1dEsd

    The last bastion to crumble will be the hollywood leading male hegemony….such a pleasant sound.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Elizabeth, caller at :33minutes. “Nobody asked me applying for a job as an elementary school counselor, if I was gay or straight, just whether I can do the job.”

    I don’t want to be flippant, but that may well depend on where you live.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000570151428 Jo Bleaux

    I appreciate the last caller’s acceptance. But, I was struck by her comment that when she applies for a job, she’s not asked if she’s gay or straight. I imagine she doesn’t know that in much of the country, it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone simply for being gay. Really.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      In much of the country it is perfectly legal to fire someone for looking at you wrong. Or following a religion you disagree with. Or not smiling enough. You can fire someone for anything you want when you don’t have to provide legitimate reasons for the separation. It’s called Right to Work, what it really translates to is Right to Fire.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000570151428 Jo Bleaux

        Not exactly. My state has been right to work for several decades. Federal protections for age, race, religion, ability, etc., do still apply. 

        • DrewInGeorgia

          They should still apply.
          Like the Fair Credit Reporting Act the “protections” are only valid if they are observed and enforced. Employers don’t like being told what to do with their “property”. In my experience most employers who are proponents of Right to Work legislation view employes as corporate property. Otherwise, how could they dictate what is and is not acceptable when you are not in the workplace?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000570151428 Jo Bleaux

            Listen, I’m firmly against right to work.  I live in Louisiana, where  right to work has been in effect for decades. Filing complaints to the EEOC is alive and well here. But, sexual orientation isn’t protected by the EEOC. That’s the point I was making.

        • Gregg Smith

          Thank goodness for the right to fire. Can you imagine how utterly insane things would be otherwise?

      • Gregg Smith

        Thank goodness for the right to fire. Can you imagine how utterly insane things would be otherwise?

        • StilllHere

          It would all look like the public sector.

      • 1Brett1

        Yeah, in “right to work” states employers can fire more easily without repercussions; employees have less recourse. Whatever any rights employees do still have are reduced even farther in “right to work” states.

    • Jaboney1

      This concept of choice is fascinatingly bogus and I never hear the obvious argument from the LGBT community or journalists and that is to ask the homophobic person “tell me about that time in your life when you chose to be straight, gay, bi-sexual or a lesbian”? The fact is, it is not a choice, but a physiologic fact that people are the way they are. If I was given a choice to eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream or a bowl of ground glass, one can see there is, in actuality, no choice at all!

    • Jaboney1

      This concept of choice is fascinatingly bogus and I never hear the obvious argument from the LGBT community or journalists and that is to ask the homophobic person “tell me about that time in your life when you chose to be straight, gay, bi-sexual or a lesbian”? The fact is, it is not a choice, but a physiologic fact that people are the way they are. If I was given a choice to eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream or a bowl of ground glass, one can see there is, in actuality, no choice at all!

  • shawnh2112

    I would like to know–from NPR’s ombudsman or program director or a similarly authoritative source–whether the host of this discussion, Jane Clayson, determines which calls are taken. 

    I ask because I’ve been an avid NPR listener for many years, and the first few calls in this segment were by far the most conservative and closed-minded–and, frankly, offensive–I’ve ever heard on an NPR program. For a second, I had to remind myself that it was even NPR I was listening to–the comments were that anti-gay.   

    I assume that, like most radio programs today, callers are prescreened in an effort to determine what sort of comment or question they will be fielding. I ask because guest host Jane Clayson is a devout member of the very conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (i.e., a Mormon). The LDS church’s official position on homosexuality is notoriously behind the times: Though it teaches that members should basically hate the “sin” of homosexuality but love the “sinner,” it leaves much to be desired in terms of acceptance and treatment of homosexuals. Though there are certainly Mormons who choose to be unconditionally loving and accepting, the majority find it hard to do so when their belief system says that God hates homosexuality and that gays cannot enter heaven unless they abstain from living their natural sexual orientation. For this reason, I couldn’t help wondering if Jane purposely chose the first several conservative, anti-gay callers because of a personal belief system that views homosexuality as a choice that goes against God’s will.

    Full disclosure–I am both a former Mormon (I left the church six years ago) and Jane’s first cousin (though our family relationships are admittedly not close-knit). As both a professional journalist myself and as someone who was liberal/progressive even when I was still a Mormon, I initially gave Jane the benefit of the doubt in this call. However, when guest Martina Navratilova tried to clarify to Jane that being homosexual is not a choice any more than Jane chose to be heterosexual, Jane completely failed to acknowledge the point and instead barged forward with a line of questioning that seemed rather cold and unfeeling toward Navratilova’s point. And then came the three or four anti-gay, uber-conservative calls in a row, including one that outright called for good Christian and Muslim Americans to shun homosexuals. Faced with the blatant ill-will expressed by this caller, Jane said nothing but “Thank you very much.”  

    So, again, I’d like to know, did Jane personally select these callers because of their conservative standpoint? And, if so, what is NPR’s response to the appearance this gives of the show’s host apparently advancing a line of discussion that seems highly influenced by her religious affiliation–a position that, to this longtime NPR listener, seemed to veer inexplicably toward a viewpoint far more right-of-center than most NPR listeners seem to be.

    Thank you.

    Shawn Hammond
    Cedar Rapids, IA 

    • J__o__h__n

      I’m not a fan of Jane Clayson (please rotate guest hosts), but I would like to think she didn’t stack the callers.  I did notice she ignored Navratilova’s correction. 

    • aey_Texas_14

      I have been listening to NPR for about two years, and I too was surprised by the callers. I was upset by the first caller’s call for people to Christian and Muslim backgrounds to shun homosexuals. The repeated insistence that homosexuality is a choice also disturbed me greatly. I am not very familiar with this host, but I did immediately noticed the three vigorously anti-gay callers in a row. 

    • Dana85

      Congratulations for handing in your holy underwear™ in exchange for reason, common sense and intellectual honesty!

      Mormon homophobic bigotry is even more sinister than you portray. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was actively involved in bankrolling to the tune of around $22 million the effort opposing gay marriage in California.

      Your suspicions concerning Jane Clayson’s journalistic probity are well-founded. I expressed mine here: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/06/the-death-of-hugo-chavez-and-venezuelas-future#disqus where Clayson can be found palpably sneering at the legacy of Hugo Chavez during that entire show. Much as I hate to admit it and upon meticulously scrutinizing her every inflection, intonation, word choice and behaviour etc., I’m afraid we are obliged to give her the benefit of the doubt here. If she does in fact harbor the stock issue Mormon gay bashing bigotry I think we have to conclude that she’s doing a good job of suppressing it here. What you describe as “barging forward”, and thanking callers, it seems that she’s doing that with everyone regardless of their standpoint.

      Of course the failure to acknowledge the correction of sexual
      orientation not being a choice not once but twice – the first time when Navratilova corrected her and the second time when LZ repeated the correction – is egregious. However, proving that it is driven by a refusal on her part to recognize sexual orientation as biologically inherent  is difficult. Nonetheless, I would wholeheartedly support any civil/gay rights entity writing a letter to NPR demanding her to formally read a statement on the air apologizing for and correcting the error.

      • J__o__h__n

        She might not have understood the difference.  She frequently doesn’t understand what guests say and sticks to her script.  Any show on current events can provide an example or two. 

        • Dana85

          Hadn’t even considered that. Would make her a perfect fit to fill in for college drop out Sean Hannity or even have her own show on Fox “News”.

    • nj_v2

      Doesn’t surprise me. Jane “would-you-like-to-respond-to-that” Clayson, seemingly the most frequent guest host, is, i think, the worst. I turned the show off after a few minutes. 

    • brettearle

      You bring up an intriguing point.

      But I am somewhat skeptical of your theory.

      It is possible that staff members, at certain times, might try to consciously, semi-consciously, or unconsciously gear the discussion to fit the Host’s world view.

      And even a supposedly objective network like NPR might falter, sometimes.

      The program director would likely be listening to the program, sometimes, as well.

      If staffers were manipulating things, they’re sharp enough to know that influential ears are listening and the the public is `Ready’ to complain.

      There was sufficient support for Collins, as well, on the program, was there not?

  • Gregg Smith

    I’m just waiting for the first male figure skater to proclaim he’s straight.

    • disqus_fw2Bu1dEsd

      Or the first male harpsichordist. Wait a minute, William F. Buckley Jr.! Discuss……

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001708537001 Joshua Evans

    In the defense of separate locker rooms, it’s really the same as gender-segregated locker rooms.

    • Michael_Woerner1963

      Why do you think that gay men and women will be looking at you? 

    • berkeleygirl

      We have no reports of anyone having a problem sharing a shower with Collins – why start now?  If anyone is uncomfortable, let them figure out where they’ll clean.  They’re the problem, not Collins.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Oh boy, his ex-fiance and girlfriend of 8 years had no idea he was gay until he told her last week.  He jilted her in 2009 shortly before they were to be wed.

    So much for profiles in courage.

    http://www.tmz.com/2013/04/30/jason-collins-carolyn-moos-fiancee-gay/

    • Ray in VT

      So what should he have done?  Lived the lie and married her?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         No, that would have been worse.  He could stopped lying much earlier and not strung her along for 8 years.  He also could have also told her the truth when he broke up with her.

        • disqus_fw2Bu1dEsd

          Different people come out in different ways .  Sometimes it’s like a complete rebirth, sometimes it’s more like peeling away layers of an onion. Being, and becoming CAN be different in times of change.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Fair enough and perhaps 8 years of Ms. Moos life was just unintentional collateral damage.

          • J__o__h__n

            Blame the people who create the hostile atmosphere for gays to be who they are and spread lies that people can change for his attempt at a heterosexual lifestyle. 

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             8 years!!!!!!!

          • alexgavin

            I can’t help but wonder why you focus on Ms. Moos. It’s as if one victim of hate and prejudice deserves more sympathy than another. We as a culture ALL suffer as a result of hate and discrimination.

        • Ray in VT

          That’s true, but having known people who have lived that lie in order to get by, I’m reluctant to criticize Mr. Collins.  He was trying to “pass” and be “normal”, and it seems like he gave being straight a shot.  I don’t think that people should have to do that, but some still feel the need to do unfortunately.  However, at least he didn’t go through with it and lose more of both of their lives, and Ms. Moos and Mr. Collins still seem to be friends, and she did have this to say:

          “I care about [Jason] tremendously and only want the best for him. I want Jason to be happy for a lifetime and stay true to who he really is, inside and out.” and “I was shocked. There’s no words to really describe my reaction. … But
          this does alleviate some of the pain. … I’m so happy for him. He
          deserves to live the life he wants.”

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             You might be right to withhold criticism of Mr. Collins since we really don’t have the inside scoop.  He might have just been ‘confused’ while engaged.

            However, I was struck by unfairness of what happened to her life.  Her comments about Mr. Collins were truly gracious.

          • TELew

             If you are struck by the unfairness of the situation, then you should support LGBT people being who they really are.

            Young LGBT people are raised with the same assumptions as straight people are.  Many of them date and marry members of the opposite sex because they are taught that to do otherwise is wrong, or even evil.

            It is only when LGBT are taught at an early age that their sexual and/or gender orientations are not something to be ashamed of will things like Mr. Collins’s relationship with this woman become a thing of the past.

  • Michael_Woerner1963

    I have a lot of respect for Mr. Collins because he came out BEFORE he reired.  Also for those who have a him talking about his orientation publicly because it’s not done by straights, I say that’s bull!  Straights talk about their sex lives everytime they say “my wife”, “my husband”, “my children”, etc. 

  • http://twitter.com/Halojumper007 Halojumper

    Hey there’s nothing wrong in being gay except for the whole same sex attractiveness thing.  Oh and LZ, you’re right, why wouldn’t I as a straight male have an issue with a gay male showering next to me, possibly fantasizing erotically about me; why if I were showering next to a naked in-shape woman the last thing on my mind would be sexual thoughts.  But hey, maybe gay men are just wired differently.  WAKE UP!

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