NFL Stars Tackle Homophobia

8 Sep

Ayanbadejo and Kluwe

What a delightful surprise! Not one but two NFL players have recently shown strong support for LGBT equality. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been a vocal supporter for some time, participating in HRC campaigns like NoH8. Because marriage equality is on the ballot in Maryland this year, he has supported Marylanders for Marriage Equality. Enter Maryland House of Delegates member Emmett C. Burns.

In a shocking display of homophobia and free speech trampling, Burns sent a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti demanding that Ayanbadejo “concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.” Ignoring the fact that civil rights matter for everyone, Burns illogically says that being a celebrity removes the right to have opinions (that disagree with his). That Burns is African American and ignores the intersections of oppression is even harder to believe.

The response to Burns has been wonderful, however. Ayanbadejo said he would like to “thank him more than anything for bringing national attention to the issue” and questioned Burns’ merit as an elected official. Then enter Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Minnesota is facing a one-man-one-woman hate amendment this November and Kluwe has recorded three ads opposing the equality ban. He wrote an impassioned letter to Burns defending his NFL colleague and marriage equality. It’s a wonderful letter in full; here’s a good sample.

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

Well said, Mr. Kluwe, and thank you! Given the homophobia in most professional sports and the small number of athletes who are willing to be out and proud, players like Kluwe and Ayanbadejo are important heroes. Let’s hope their voices make life easier for the next generation of athletes and help establish better equality for all.

9 Responses to “NFL Stars Tackle Homophobia”

  1. Daphiny September 8, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    FANTASTIC story and bravo to these real sexually secure men telling and showing these insecure males how ridiculous they look

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 8, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Beautifully said, Daphiny. If one is secure in their own sexuality, what does it matter what someone else’s sexuality is?

  2. Ian D. Samson September 8, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I am tackling the HOMOPHOBIA in the South African Baptist Church. The only amendment to their constitution between 1924 and today was the insertion of their blatant disregard for any gay union that flies in the face of the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution. At some date in the future, I will take the Baptist Union of South Africa to the Equality Court and let a judge decide whether their treatment of me that included blackmail, intimidation, threats, violation of my Right to Privacy, violation of my Right of Freedom of Association, violation of my Right to Freedom of Speech, violation of my Right to freedom of expression especially in Music in Church.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 8, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      What an awful battle to have to fight, Ian. I hope you are getting the support you need! Keep us updated.

      • Ian D. Samson September 8, 2012 at 9:50 am #

        Hi Michael, “support”? What’s that?

  3. Christine Noble September 8, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I almost cried for joy when I read about this yesterday.

  4. James Queale September 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    It is wonderful to see this! You are starting to see many occupations that were predominately homophobic, lift the veil of bigotry and start with a fresh and tolerant perspective.

    Just recently with the R&B and Hip-Hop world we saw this with Frank Ocean coming out as bi-sexual. I often avoided this genre, but I can say that I enjoy him and the songs that are about his love of a man are heartbreaking at times.

    Sadly, Nicki Minaj who had stated to be bi-sexual in the past (at the time saying she wanted to lift homophobia out of Rap) has now said that she did it for money and fame. This only adds to the misinformation that sexuality is a hoax and just for fun.

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