My deep thought of the day:
So Jason Collins (current center for the Washington Wizards) came out as a homosexual. I support individuals being honest about important parts of their identity, and I especially support *famous* people doing this because it gives gay kids a role model. When you treat heterosexuality as the norm –not just in the sense that most people are heterosexuals, but in the sense that if you’re not, there’s something not quite right about you– role models like this can go a deep way.
What bothers me is this: I’m not a huge basketball fan so maybe I’m wrong here, but… Jason Collins isn’t exactly a big-name star, is he? I never heard about him before this. His sexuality is all I know about him. And that makes me a little concerned he might be turned into another Tim Tebow: an athlete who’s less known for his athletic skills than than because he represents some group of people. I mean, he seems pretty good and he definitely works hard, but he’s also no Troy Aikman. The fact that this is the best example I can come up with might tell you how little I follow American football – yet even I know Tebow’s name, because of the way he’s presented as one of evangelical Christianity’s “tribe.” He’s the Christian football player, and I suspect it’s the Christianity more than the football that makes him so well-known.
I don’t know Tebow’s heart. Or Collins’s, for that matter. I’m really not saying either of them are trying to milk a certain identity as a way to get themselves noticed. But with Tebow, it always seemed a bit off, that he presented himself the way he did. People have a right to their faith even if they’re famous, but it seems to debase religion when you say that sharing the same religious community as me means I should pay more attention to an athlete than I would otherwise. It risks turning religion into a means rather than an end. I guess that’s what worries me with the reaction I’ve seen to Mr. Colins. On the one hand you want to congratulate him for this act of bravery (as a pro athlete and even as an Afro-American, it really is brave to come out). And you want to give him media attention so his coming out can actually do some good. But on the other hand, I wonder if this kind of reaction commodifies his sexuality.
I’m not sure how to react to situations like this, but it’s definitely given me pause.