On Monday, NBA center Jason Collins publicly announced that he is gay. He is the first athlete in one of the four “big sports” — NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB — in the United States to come out of the closet.
After his announcement, he was praised by the media for his courage in stepping forward. However, the news also showed that there still is much intolerance and prejudice in our nation. Not prejudice and discrimination toward homosexuals, but toward people who personally believe that being gay is wrong.
Shortly after the news broke, many sports-network panelists said they viewed Collins’ announcement as progress. But a few commentators — like ESPN’s Chris Broussard — offered an opposing viewpoint. Broussard said that he and many other Christians feel that homosexuality is a sin. Broussard also condemned adultery.
Afterward, the commentator was attacked by other members of the media who called him a bigot and said he was full of hatred. After the telecast, ESPN released a statement apologizing for Broussard’s comments.
The following day on the NFL Network’s NFL AM morning show, the topic of Collins resurfaced. During the discussion, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace’s Twitter remarks were rehashed. Wallace had tweeted that he didn’t understand homosexuality. Wallace also was bombarded with hateful comments, so he quickly removed his Twitter post and later apologized for it. The same day, the Miami Dolphins released an apology and said that they would address the matter with Wallace. The NFL also released a statement saying they, too, would review the matter.
Who is intolerant now? I may not know much, but I do know that every person who believes that homosexuality is wrong — including myself — is not necessarily ignorant or a bigot.
But wait — what did I just say? I gave my opinion on the matter. That means my view. In having this view, have I taken any action against anyone? Did Broussard — or even Wallace — take any action against anyone? No. These people — just like me — are expressing the opinion that, based on our values and morals, homosexuality is wrong.
I know that it is now the societal norm to accept homosexuality and gay marriage, but there still is a large percentage of the population — especially those who profess to be Christians — who believe that such behavior is a choice and a sin. That belief is based upon a long-standing interpretation of Biblical Scripture.
However, I’m not concerned with people’s interpretation of the Bible. I’m worried about the intolerance, discrimination and prejudice shown to people who don’t agree with homosexuality.
As a Christian, I don’t hate anyone. The Bible tells me that I am to love everyone. I have a friend who is gay, and I would do anything in the world for this person. I have never let my personal view on this matter affect our friendship. I believe that we are judged by our actions, and there is no room in workplaces, schools or the government for discrimination. But we do still have the right to believe what we choose. And we do have the right to speak out on that belief, especially if the opposing side is allowed to speak out on its views.
When we start telling people what they can believe and how they should feel, George Orwell’s view of society isn’t too far behind. Tolerance has to go both ways, not just to the party that a large chunk of society happens to agree with.
A friend of mine, Jimmy Darsey, and I at one time differed on just about every political issue out there, but we always respected each other’s opinions, and we were willing to listen to each other’s views. This country could stand to learn something from the example we set.