I’m saying all that to say that if I can play basketball with a homosexual, just about anyone can.
I’ve played in several rec leagues with LZ Granderson, who is an openly gay writer at ESPN The Magazine.
I consider LZ a friend. I’ve gone out to lunch with him, talked music, sports, politics and lots of other things with him. I greet him with a handshake and a hug, just like I greet lots of other guys.
By the way, LZ can ball. In a league in New York City that features several former college players, we both made the All-Star team. He was kind of like our Shawn Marion minus the dunks (though he claims he can still slam!) and I was like our Gilbert Arenas (high game of 39, thank you).
Anyway, when we play in our rec league games, I give him high fives and hugs. Same with one of his friends who is on the team and also gay.
SEE! I touched them! The openly gays! I touched them with my hands! Hugged them! Our pecs touched. Our nipples engaged one another’s. I felt his well-developed shoulders and the warmth of his skin on mine. This tactile experience did not magically make me not a tool and a douchebag, which proves that in America opinions are not transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, and that proves that it’s okay that I think being gay is a sin. My friends dig it when I hug them, and am honest with them about how they’re going to hell! It’s all good.
I’m asking: Has there ever been a column by The Gay Friends saying “I have bigot friends, and we agree to disagree because that’s America, man?” Because I feel like until we start reading that all the time, even the most loving encounters get rendered into this thing where somebody is emotional scenery for My Journey To Enlightenment, Or Not, In This Specific Case. I mean, so long as The Gay Friends are good with their asshole pals, who am I to interfere, but we never hear from The Gays Some Bro Does Not Mind Touching, and I feel like that’s on purpose.
This whole thing is goddamn stupid. I can tell you all about Gay Fellows I Have Cuddled or Girls I Have Kissed While Watching Firefly Together or what have you, but if I get up in the morning and I talk about how I don’t think they deserve the same rights as anyone else under the law, if I say that in my considered opinion they are not as glorious to God as any other human being, how does my once having held a lesbian’s hand excuse those opinions? How does it affect them at all, come to think of it? I’m a bigot because I hold bigoted opinions, not because I have or lack proximity to homosexuals.
I think a lot of the problem is that we, straight people we, have come to define homophobia, bigotry, as the Worst Case Scenario. As the Westboro Baptist Church, and as long as you don’t rise to that level you’re okay. As long as you don’t stand outside your gay neighbor’s house with a FAG SIN poster, you’re not “homophobic,” so you can’t be doing or saying anything objectionable or wrong. As if this stuff isn’t all about degrees, and about recognizing when something’s not about you.
As if all this is, all anything is, is a chance to show off your private stable of beliefs and then declare on behalf of those affected by them that everything is cool, because as you walked off the basketball court you said, “Good game,” and you looked them right in their very gay eyeballs when you did it.