Years later, my brother came out. I never suspected he was gay, though I guess I should have. There were hints of it, but my gaydar isn't really that good. Since 2002 when he came out, I have worked hard to become a better brother, friend...and have changed my attitude towards the LGBT community. To that point, I want to apologize to my former classmate Todd for being so narrow-minded. I should've accepted his differences, ALL of our differences - fortunately, I've grown.
The media is making a huge deal out of this - to an extent, it is. But I hear some comparing this to Jackie Robinson's integration of baseball, and I think this is going too far. Why?
- The United States was segregated at this time. Horribly segregated. Robinson began playing baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1947...seventeen years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended most of the segregation of this country. There were hotels he couldn't stay at with his teammates, restaurants that wouldn't serve him. Today, the LGBT community lives largely unaffected within every American community.
- There have been some gay men who played in the major leagues before: John Amaechi, Billy Bean, Wade Davis to name a few. Before Robinson, the last African-American to play baseball was Moses Fleetwood Walker, who was chased from the game by Cap Anson among others in 1889. African-Americans couldn't hide among their peers on the field/court/ice. They couldn't hide in plain sight, like the gay athlete could.
- There has been an growing movement among professional athletes encouraging someone to come out. Chris Kluwe has been outspoken on this issue, as has Brendon Ayanbadejo. Today, Jason Collins' Twitter followers jumped from 4,000 to over 35,000, and positive Twitter responses have outnumbered negative ones by 4-1. On the other hand, Jackie Robinson was not welcomed as warmly - while some teammates accepted him immediately, the abuse he suffered from fans, opposing teams and some teammates early in his career may have contributed to his stress-related illnesses later in life, to which he finally succumbed at age 53.
When a woman attempts to make a realistic attempt to play in one of those four leagues. And you know what? It's coming.