Hero of the Week Award: July 5, Tim Hardaway

5 Jul
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week it is a real pleasure to celebrate a man who has clearly demonstrated the ability to change. Former NBA star, Tim Hardaway was infamous for his homophobia. When recently retired player John Amaechi came out in 2007, Hardaway famously noted in an interview “I hate gay people.” When asked for clarification, he seemed to use the label “homophobic” proudly.  At that point, he certainly would have earned Bigot of the Week Award.  What an absolute delight to celebrate someone who demonstrates bell hooks’ transformative experience.

The NBA did the right thing and sanctioned Hardaway, imposing financial penalties and banning him from the NBA All-Star weekend. This gave him space to consider his words and actions. Not long after, he indicated that he wanted to change his ways, telling a reporter, “I’m going to do whatever I can to correct it.”

He has lived up to that promise. Earlier this year, when Jason Collins became the first active NBA player to come out, Hardaway was among his most vocal supporters. This week, Equal Marriage Florida opened its petition to create marriage equality in the Sunshine State. For the very public kickoff of the campaign, they found a willing celebrity to be the first signer of the petition — Tim Hardaway.

Many people have ugly beliefs, say hateful things, take hurtful actions. They should be called out for their behavior. Too seldom do we see even a real apology. Even rarer is someone who truly demonstrates that they have learned from their mistakes and want to be and do better and do the necessary repair work. Thank you, Tim Hardaway, for showing that our strongest allies can be forged from the lessons learned by our former opponents.  There is a lesson for us all here.  For those that commit trespass, we must try our best to create a space for people to make mistakes, be accountable, and allow for repair work.  If I, or our culture, simply dismisses a fellow human being as just a homophobe, or just a racist, we lose the opportunity for richer deeper conversations to be had and we also lose the opportunity for targeted, or marginalized people to gain allies.

It’s a delight to have two honorable mentions this week. First, a big thank you to the Department of Homeland Security. (I never thought I’d write that!) In one of the first executive branch actions since the overturn of DOMA Section 3, DHS began issuing green cards to legally married same-sex couples. This will end decades of discrimination and estrangement and banishes one of the most visibly cruel aspects of DOMA.

Honorable mention also goes to April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a couple in Michigan who have been working to overturn that state’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples. They recently expanded their case to take on the Wolverine State’s marriage ban. Judge Bernard Friedman put a stay on the case in March, awaiting the Supreme Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 decisions. Citing the DOMA verdict, Friedman lifted his stay, noting that the language of the decision “has provided the requisite precedential fodder for both parties to this litigation.” It’s wonderful to see so many positive results emerge from that one decision so quickly. Thank you, April and Jayne, for your courage, and best of luck on your journey to end discrimination.


13 Responses to “Hero of the Week Award: July 5, Tim Hardaway”

  1. penguinlad July 5, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    Thank you for this happy story. Here are some nice words from the ever-vigilant George Takei on Hardaway’s amazing change of heart: “this gladdens my heart tremendously. I once “called out” NBA star Tim Hardaway for his homo-hating ways. And now he has become an ally. People indeed do change if you give them a chance and keep open dialogue.”

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 5, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      I’m glad to see Takei and I are on the same page. I do believe we have to create space for folk to make mistakes and to do the necessary repair work in an authentic way. Targeted and marginalized people need all the allies we can get.

  2. dykewriter July 5, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    I think a lot of times,. people only consider their own and their own demographic’s oppression.

    One of the most amazing conversations I had in 2003 was with a Jewish lawyer about gay marriage

    after 3 hours and connecting the discrimination he faces as a Jew to the discrimination that queers have faced – he not only became a supporter

    but as the lawyer for several Vancouver temples – he made a huge difference

    it was thrilling to read his article in the Jewish community press where he made all my points as his own

    it just goes to show how one conversation can make a difference

    • dykewriter July 5, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      that he had faced. he passed away shortly after marriage equality passed – and I really miss him

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 5, 2013 at 9:05 am #

        Nina, I’m so sorry for your loss and sorry for the loss of an ally!

      • dykewriter July 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        He had worked at a firm that my Ex worked at.

        He was a very elegant gentleman in his 80s

        so turning him into not only an ally but a champion of equality

        was really an amazing moment for me

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm #


        How lovely that you were a part of his life and he remains a part of your life. 🙂

      • dykewriter July 5, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

        I am reviewing my past and trying to find things to be proud of that I did

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

        I should imagine there is a great deal for you to be proud of, Nina.

      • dykewriter July 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

        yes. but most of it is in my volunteer rather than my paid work.

        in fact, that’s rather why my resume is evenly divided

        I could never find something that was totally satisfying

        the last thing I am proud of was taking a 20 something into going out of the public and into the private sector

        I in fact, now refuse to help people get government jobs

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 5, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Nina, what a lovely example of the power of creating space for conversations and the power of solidarity! Thank you so much for such a brilliant comment.

  3. Central Oregon Coast NOW July 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

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