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Is it OK to Not Care About Sexual Orientation?

by on April 30, 2013 10:34 AM

My reaction to the “news” of the day -- the lead story on the network news stations was to literally yawn. I’m actually more concerned with the massive killings in Syria, with the ongoing infringement by our federal government on the rights of American citizens and the possible changes to the structure of the Penn State Board of Trustees and with hundreds of other stories that I think are truly newsworthy than I am with what a professional athlete does behind closed doors. I honestly just don’t care.

It’s not as though anyone, anywhere believes Jason Collins is the first professional athlete in a team sport who is gay. I understand that by admitting it while he’s playing, he’s broken new ground and that will open the door for others to admit the same. And that’s fine. But just don’t expect me to care.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the Christians who weighed in on the issue, suggesting that Jason Collins couldn’t be a Christian now. So, that bastion of the Christian lifestyle -- the NBA and professional sports in general -- is going to be ruined now because gay athletes (which have always been a part of the industry whether we knew it or not) may admit to their lifestyle.

How about the infidelity, the narcissism, the violence and crime? I guess I’d be a lot more impressed if there was a steady course from these so-called Christians against ALL of the sins by all of the athletes. How about this, if you believe something is a sin, don’t do it. But leave others to chart their own course and live on their terms. Isn’t a man’s fate with God ultimately up to God? Why don’t we leave it that way?

A majority of Americans believe in same sex marriage. So how courageous is this decision to come out when those who come out in all professions are celebrated by pop culture?

Forgive me, for I am a heterosexual male who grew up in the sports culture -- worse yet in the eyes of the nation, in the Penn State sports culture. I grew up believing that sports brought people together. It didn’t matter where you came from, who your parents were, what color you were, what religion you were -- we were a team bound by the experiences and goals we shared.

But in the locker rooms there was always a lot of talk about girls. And I have no doubt we threw language around that would have, at the very least, made a homosexual male uncomfortable and possibly even hurt. So I am not suggesting there isn’t a place for improved discourse and understanding. But what does “understanding” mean?

It is true that I don’t understand. I, like Mike Wallace (the former Steelers wide receiver, not the newsman), don’t understand how “with all these beautiful women in the world, guys wanna mess with other guys.”

I don’t understand. I look at a beautiful woman and I can’t understand how any man wouldn’t also be attracted to her.

But there is a long list of things I don’t understand. How can anyone can throw a baseball effectively left-handed? How can people can eat a diet sans meat (seriously, have you not tried bacon?)? How can anyone can listen to heavy metal and not consider it punishment?, Why would anyone would want a piercing in their eyebrow? How can anyone can root for the Dallas Cowboys? (I really don’t understand that last one) How can anyone possibly find coconut tasty? The list goes on and on. But I do understand that all of these people exist, and truthfully, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I don’t understand any of it, but I tolerate it and it doesn’t affect my life in the least (Well, except for the obnoxious Cowboys fans).

I have friends who are left-handed, who are vegetarian, who claim they like coconut (although I think they’re just pulling my leg because seriously, no one could actually enjoy that flavor). I even have friends who are Cowboys fans which is ultimately just sad and pathetic.

I don’t have any hatred whatsoever for Jason Collins. But I also don’t respect him any more or less than I did last week. I find it odd that anyone would define themselves or others by their sexual orientation. I take pride in my work, in my heritage, in my accomplishments but I’ve never been proud (nor ashamed) of my sexual orientation. I genuinely don’t care about it.

I do understand that harassment of anyone is awful and I don’t understand why anyone would single out one’s sexual orientation or even perceived sexual orientation as a reason for harassment or worse. What impact could it possibly have on your life?

I do have questions. If gays are just like us (in this case, the “us” is straight people), then why wouldn’t there be problems in the locker room? You put me in a room full of attractive, naked women showering and I may be able to act professionally, but I’m pretty sure I’m also going to get my thrills.

If looking isn’t any big deal then why did so many get worked up when it was learned there was a hole in the shower of the Eagles cheerleaders that opposing players used to look through? So I do think there are issues that need examined and talked through.

I don’t hate or love anyone because of the gender of the people they are attracted to. But what does it mean for me to “understand” their lifestyle? I acknowledge it exists just as I acknowledge that it may be possible for someone to like coconut (I suppose). But why do I have to “understand” it and what does that mean?

But I don’t understand why sexual orientation matters to anyone. I just don’t consider it newsworthy.

In locker rooms everywhere, players may soon be singing, “now we don our gay apparel” to which I’ll add “fa la la la la, la la la la.”

Jeff Byers has been the wrestling team’s traveling announcer since 1990.
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