Jason Collins came out as a gay NBA player yesterday. Most of the country yawned. Coming out as gay in today’s world is about as interesting as buttering one’s toast. Last month, Magic Johnson said his son was gay. Few cared. Sure, the media cried a tear or two. “Such courage” was the common theme.
So the “courage” angle was trotted out once again yesterday morning. Another Rosa Parks, some said. “We got your back,” tweeted the First Lady. Bill Clinton gave his support. Collins even got a congratulatory phone call from President Obama.
But where was this outpouring of affection when Britney Griner declared herself gay last month? Why wasn’t she a “hero”, as so many high-minded, morally superior citizens of the world declared of Collins?
Griner didn’t receive a phone call from the President. She wasn’t declared a trailblazer for civil rights. No, she knew it wasn’t really a big deal.
“I’ve always been really open about my sexuality and who I am. I never thought a big coming out was necessary.”
Billie Jean King came out as gay in 1981. Martina Navratilova came out a year later. Sheryl Swoopes, one of the greatest WNBA players in history, said she was gay back in her prime. So did Chamique Holdsclaw. Scores of women athletes are gay and have no fear of telling the world. These women aren’t defined as heroes.
But a journeyman center, on his last legs of an NBA career, puts his finger in the air and sees which way the wind is blowing. He becomes the hero, not the women who led the way. The proud opinion-makers of this country, strutting their open-mindedness like a peacock displaying its plumage, are blind to their own sexism. It’s a man’s world, after all.