Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NBA Player Jason Collins Comes Out, and Chris Broussard Spouts Bible Verses: Bible-Based Anti-Gay Bullying Ramping Up

It's interesting, isn't it, that the immediate and instinctual response of men like Chris Broussard to NBA player Jason Collins's choice to come out of the closet is to issue a blaring pronouncement that Collins is a sinner in "open rebellion" against God? The response of some people to the increasing openness of gay people in many cultures around the world is, in short, to ramp up the bullying. Using the choicest bullying weapons available to them as they engage in this campaign--which is to say, God, Jesus, the bible, etc. . . .

As more and more gay people come out of the closet, now even in the world of professional sports and even men in that world, and as societies everywhere continue to recognize the human rights of those who are gay, the bullying increases instead of decreasing. The two--the growing self-acceptance of gay folks with their welcome by various social institutions and faith communities, and the mean-spirited, loud, bigoted "bible-based" pushback--are directly correlated.

And what the ramped-up bullying reacting to the increasing welcome of gay folks in various societies and faith communities tells us is that the intent has been to bully all along. The endless spate of carefully selected biblical clobber verses; the bizarre exclusive fixation on the perceived "sins" of gays while the real sins demanding attention in the world around us go totally unnoticed by these same savior figures; the pretend "love" and "compassion" for gay "sinners"; the effusive "welcome" of gay folks that is the opposite of welcome as it singles gays out for lessons in washing their dirt before they approach the table: it's all about bullying. The intent has been to repress, literally, to "push back": it has been to push as many gay and lesbian human beings as possible back into closets of deep dark shame, self-denial, and self-hatred.

The greatest fear of those who feel their bullying is losing its edge right now is that young gay and lesbian people will have positive role models like Jason Collins to look up to, and will not choose to live in shame, self-denial, and self-hatred. Young people seeking to form healthy self-concepts, young LGBT people and young people in general who more and more affirm their LGBT peers: these are the ultimate object of the blaring, ignorant, bible-based bullying that we now see proliferating in response to the growing welcome of gay persons in the world around us.

People like Katelyn Campbell in Charleston, West Virginia: they're the real prize in the anti-gay bullying wars. When Campbell stood up to (and see also here) the arrant "bible-based" slut-shaming and disinformation that abstinence promoter Pam Stenzel brought to her high school recently, Campbell's principal George Aulenbacher sought to retaliate by smearing her personally and blocking her entrance to Wellesley College, which had already accepted her as a student for the fall. 

Campbell stood her ground, and Wellesley responded with a tweet stating that the college welcomes Katelyn Campbell and is excited to have her as a student. Stenzel is, by the way, a graduate of Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, gained her current power-and-marketing base during the Bush administration, under the "faith-based" initiatives program that this administration implemented and which the Obama administration has continued. 

I find the courage and intelligence of young leaders like Katelyn Campbell inspiring. At the same time, I have real concern for how other young people who may lack the support system of a Katelyn Campbell will find the resources to deal with bible-based slut shaming and bible-based homophobic bullying. I wonder what many younger people will think as they hear an ESPN authority figure like Broussard inform them that simply being gay and acknowledging one's God-give nature are acts of sinful rebellion against God.

Will they wonder why a sportscaster concerns himself with spouting off about biblical principles and sinners in a secular news forum in which such spouting off is wildly inappropriate, and in which the real sinners who abound in the world all around us, including the world of sports, are totally off the radar screen of the Broussards of the world as these men turn their sin-spotting laser beam exclusively on gay "sinners"? 

I'm 63 years old, and the bible-blaring and bullying have made inroads into my own psyche of late, as the blaring and bullying ramp up in response to cultural developments like the extension of marriage equality to more states in the U.S. and more nations, and in response to cultural developments like Jason Collins's announcement that he's gay. If the bullying wears me down, when I have a well-developed sense of myself and a rather thick skin, what does it do, I ask myself, to many young people who have not yet developed those resources?

I ask myself, too, why Chris Broussard wants to talk about gay "sin," when, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't uttered a single pronouncement about the real sin of an endemic culture of rape of women by heterosexual men in sports, which the Steubenville story has brought to our attention all over again, and which a panel discussed very insightfully recently with Melissa Harris-Perry on her MSNBC program. If Broussard thinks it's his obligation to pronounce about sin and sinners as a sportscaster, he might be well-advised to look at the Steubenville case and how it has played out.

P.S. I'm sorry for the mistake in the original title of this posting. I had originally written "Chris Collins" and not "Jason Collins," and have just now spotted the mistake and corrected it.

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