Issac Bailey

Attitudes on gay stars show pattern

A former NBA center, John Amaechi, has announced that he is gay.

It wasn't the first time a retired professional player spoke publicly about his sexuality. None had the courage to come out during his playing days.

Or maybe they had the wisdom not to.

They all feared being ostracized, said they likely would not have been accepted by some teammates, some fans. They said it would have hurt their ability to participate in the profession they had chosen.

They watched as "straight" superstars called press conferences to assure people they weren't gay after gay rumors spread.

They sat in locker rooms where machismo ruled and gay jokes flew.

After Amaechi told people he's gay, sports talk show hosts and others said it's nobody's business, that he should have kept his orientation to himself.

They said it's a non-issue, that it's 2007, that people shouldn't flaunt their sexuality. Many others in the nonsports world have been saying the same for years.

"Why do they have to talk about it?" they asked. "Why do they have to hold hands in public? Why do they have to kiss in the park? Why do they have to act like that in front of my kids? Why put it in my face?"

Weeks before Amaechi's announcement, a retired four-star general said the country needs to rethink its "don't ask, don't tell policy," which lets gay people risk their lives to keep us safe but forbids them from being fully human. His critics said homosexuality doesn't belong in the military.

After Amaechi's revelation, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league requires only a sufficient level of talent and skill. He said talk of one's sexuality doesn't belong in the NBA.

About the same time, spiritual advisers for Rev. Ted Haggard, who was removed as head of the Evangelical Association because of a gay affair, said that after weeks of treatment he was "completely heterosexual."

Haggard and his mentors said acceptance of homosexuality doesn't belong in the church.

A few days later, former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, a good guy by all accounts, said on Sports Talk 790 The Ticket: "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people, and I don't like to be around gay people."

He said homosexuality shouldn't be in the world.

While their motives may be different - some have an allegiance to "God's laws," others to Hardaway's hate - I can't help but see a common effect.

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