The Celtics, Homophobia in Sports, and Me.

As a born-and-raised sports fan, living in a sports mecca like
Boston is pretty great.  With the Celtics winning the NBA
championship on Tuesday and the celebratory parade cruising past
Family Equality Council’s office on Thursday, I am reminded of one
of the uglier sides of professional sports: rampant homophobia. 

From collegiate coaches threatening to out their players or cut
them from the team
to well known
athletes proclaiming their homophobia
; there is an undercurrent
of anti-gay sentiment through many professional sports.  The
sentiment is not limited to players and coaches, as Kevin Jennings,
executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network
and avid New York Rangers fan, stopped attending games due to the homophobic
. Sure, there are openly gay athletes like Martina
Navratilova and John Amaechi, but most athletes come out after
they’ve retired.  Some stadiums and arenas have development or
implemented anti-discrimination policies and stricter policies
about offensive behavior, but there is still a long road ahead
before these become universally adopted.

Then as an LGBTQ or ally family, you’re faced with a tough dilemma:
either enjoy the excitement and experience of collegiate and
professional sports while enduring what can be an anti-gay climate,
or boycott the events despite perhaps having a sports fan in the
family or being one yourself.  I can only imagine how difficult it
would be to explain to a sports-loving child that they can’t attend
the game anymore because the people in the stands are very mean to
people.  There are no easy answers in this battle, and I
personally struggle with this predicament.  Hopefully there will
one day be a more gay-friendly atmosphere in American sports
culture.  Until then, we will have to walk the balance between
recreation and ideology.