Tag Archives: Kobe Bryant

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 3, John Amaechi

3 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to John Amaechi.  Many of you may remember that TSM published Amaechi’s response to Kobe Bryant’s using the word “faggot.”  Amaechi was the first NBA player to come out publicly and documents his journey and struggle of being gay in a notoriously homophobic industry, a la Joakim Noah, in his memoir Man in the Middle.  Since retiring from basketball, Amaechi has been an activist for equality and lends his voice to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  How nice to see a great sports role model for all kids–“we are everywhere.”

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Bryant, Noah, McDowell: Quite the Ménage à Trois

28 May

L'Amour, L'Amour, L'Amour

Thanks to my friend Jen Lockett for inspiring this story.  That past few months have done nothing to encourage LGBT youth to engage in sports.  In April we witnessed Klassy Kobe with his Queer Bashing.  Then in May, Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell made national headlines for making anti-gay slurs at a group of fans in San Francisco. “He also made crude gestures at the fans, in full view of children who were in the crowd,” McDowell’s over the top homophobia may be an indication that he is spending time in bathroom stalls tapping his foot waiting for Larry Craig.  And to round out this trio of twisted troglodytes, we had Joakim Noah also using the word “faggot,” perhaps he was addressing a love interest.

While all three bigots made the 3 minute obligatory apologies, none of them rang true.  When will it become completely unacceptable to use homophobic epithets?  John Amaechi, the now retired and openly gay NBA star recalls how painful it was for him upon coming out:

First of all, I wouldn’t want him on my team,” Hardaway told a radio host in 2007. “You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.

My personal experience is that men who truly are heterosexual and comfortable being heterosexual have absolutely no problem with gays.  However, those that are not secure in their sexuality seem to prove to be squeaky wheels, or at least they were being squeaked. Again, I ask when is enough enough?  When do we stop rewarding bigoted behavior?  When will companies like Nike say: “sorry, but we don’t want homophobic bigots representing our company?  Click here to see the full article.

Nike Stands Behind Bigot Bryant: Follow Up Interview

19 Apr

Boycott Bigots of Nike

As TSM reported, Kobe Bryant has appealed the fine assessed for calling a referee a “faggot” during a Lakers game last week. Nor have we learned of any action to substantiate his words of apology.  What is worse is that Nike has made it clear that they will support the bigoted Bryant regardless; after all he is an “athlete.”  When I asked Nike for a response regarding Bryant’s appeal to the fine, I got:

There has been no change in Nike’s position or statement beyond our conversation on Friday. I would decline to comment further at this time.

I then asked if Nike would could please explain what are the criteria for hiring an “athlete” as a spokesperson.  Nike’s official response:

Michael, again, I am going to decline to comment further at this time.

The diversity statement that Nike publishes on their website apparently is just as hollow as Bryant’s apology.  Nike must use the Senator Kyl philosophy where their words are not intended to represent truth. While Bryant may not have intended to specifically refer to that individual referee as a “faggot,” it is clear that it was the first word that came to mind. Nike has now made a clear decision, sadly true, that it is perfectly acceptable to use a pejorative against the LGBT community. I can only wonder what all of the LGBT employees at Nike must be thinking.  Like Target, I am now calling for a world-wide boycott of Nike. I encourage all LGBT folks and LGBT allies to contact the HRC to change the status of Nike.

When will it finally be unacceptable to use slurs against the LGBT community? This seems like a perfectly appropriate opportunity to call your attention to how attitudes shape the risk of suicide attempts amongst LGBT youth.

“If you have questions, concerns or would like more information about Nike’s manufacturing practices, environmental issues, diversity or philanthropic policies and activities around the world, please call us at 1-800-344-6453 – (7 a.m. – 4 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday).”

Nike’s Corporate Response to Kobe Bryant: My Interview with Nike

15 Apr

We will be watching you

First, I would like to say that one of the things I love about  living in Portland, Oregon is that, for the most part, there is a general acceptance of and even desire for diversity.  Nike is headquartered here in Portland, and I had an impressive experience at Nike as I attended a diversity workshop there You can imagine my great disappointment when Nike spokesathlete Kobe Bryant made the homophobic slur at a recent Lakers game.  My heart sank and I just hoped that Nike would stand by its diversity statement and dismiss Bryant as a spokesperson making millions of dollars.  Here is a part of the diversity statement from Nike:

Diversity and Inclusion is fundamental to Nike’s performance. It’s what makes us better. It’s what makes us smarter. It helps our business grow and helps us connect with consumers.
—Gina A. Warren, VP Global Diversity & Inclusion

Bryant, being in the employ of Nike, seems to have violated the core principles of diversity when he used the word “faggot.”

I immediately called and left a message for Gina A. Warren.  We played a bit of phone tag, but to Nike’s credit, they did call me back and made sure they talked to me. I spoke with Kellie Leonard, Corporate Spokeswoman for Nike.  Kellie was quite gracious as I interviewed her and consistently expressed her disappointment in Bryant’s slur:

He continues to be a sponsored athlete. His comments are not acceptable and nor are they in the spirit of basketball. He has apologized for his language. It is important that it is a sincere apology. Nike is opposed to any discrimination of any kind.

When I pressed Ms. Leonard further and asked if Nike would have the moral fiber  and convictions behind their commitment to diversity to dismiss Bryant, she replied:

Kobe does remain an athlete. We have no plans to change our relationship with Kobe.

I asked what his being an athlete has to do with his behavior and Ms. Leonard declined to comment. I realize I put Ms. Leonard in a difficult position, but as a member of the LGBT community, I want more from Nike. Here is my conundrum: I really do believe Nike and Ms. Leonard are exceedingly dedicated to diversity and do try to combat homophobia, but I wish they would show some courage of conviction and take action and not continue to pay millions of dollars to Bryant.  So there is a part of me that wants to call for a world-wide boycott of all Nike products, but I don’t want to act in haste.  So here is a compromise and a call to action on behalf of both the LGBT community and of Nike: WE WILL BE WATCHING KOBE LIKE A HAWK!  I fully expect Kobe to substantiate his apology with actions and not just words; should we see another outburst of homophobic behavior, Nike’s subsequent actions will determine whether or not a boycott is merited.

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