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February 14, 2014

First NFL Player-to-Be (Maybe) Comes Out of the Closet

This guy isn't quite in the NFL yet, but he's a prospect. Assuming he does get drafted, he'd be, as far as I know, the first acknowledged active gay NFL player.

Good, actually.

I know some people will say "Why tell anyone? Why put it in our faces?"

I think the answer to that is severalfold:

First, unless you acknowledge you're gay, you have to lie an awful lot to every day sort of questions -- "Would you be interested in meeting my friend's sister?" People get tired of lying, even if those lies are considered socially-acceptable (to the extent that some would rather be told a lie than be told that someone is gay).

Second, it's not as if there is no chatter about a gay person's sexual preferences unless he publicly announces it. It's not as if it's only his public declaration that makes the matter one of social interest.

"Is he gay?" is a very common question to ask about someone who seems gay. I know liberals; they ask this a bunch. They don't mean it an a bad way or anything, but yeah, people pick up on subtle signals and then speculate, among friends, if someone is gay or not. Conservatives of course ask it too.

Another argument that I think is misplaced is the claim that by saying he's gay, he's offering up lascivious details of his sex life and putting it "in people's faces." Well, saying he's gay implies gay sex, but as far as I know he's not talking about gay sex. If I say I'm straight, that implies straight sex or, alternately, alas, an appetite for straight pornography. But no one would take a statement of "I'm straight" as getting into the precise details of one's sexual practices and appetites.

I'm not "celebrating" the fact that this guy is gay, no more than I would celebrate my own unfortunately-disclosed enjoyment of Busty Lesbian Porn. I don't think any sexual appetite is really worthy of celebrating. These are animal impulses. I don't think they should be criticized, either. But I also don't consider being gay some kind of Ethical Choice to be praised. Gay say they're born that way, and I agree with that. So I don't praise someone for being gay, anymore than I praise someone for being tall.

But when I say "Good," I do mean this: I think lies are bad. I think someone feeling as if he has to lie, or should lie, is bad. There are some socially-acceptable "necessary lies" in the world -- the media gives itself a pass, for example, on what it considers a necessary lie, claiming to be "objective" and "nonpartisan" -- and while I would not rule out the necessity or acceptability of any lie, I certainly think that any lie begins on very infirm ground, as far as claiming the "necessity" of it.

Some lies may be so important as to be justified, but any lie must bear a heavy burden of proof to establish it as truly "necessary" and thus acceptable or advisable.

I don't think the pretense of gay people either claiming to be straight or resorting to clumsy evasions about their sexual interest is sufficiently vital to fall into the "necessary lie" category.

We should all have -- and I'm sure we all do have -- a heavy bias towards truth as the best policy, with lies limited to only those most absolutely necessary to spare someone's feelings or avoid serious conflict and the like.


A gay guy, who probably has been identified by 90% of his teammates as probably gay, saying "Yes I'm gay," does not seem to me to be a breach of a social norm. Sure, he could lie; what would be the point, though? His teammates would still chatter; there would be the occasional article in the gay press suggesting he might be gay.

And at some point there might be an outing, some guy he picked up one time announcing to the press that this guy is gay and he can prove it, despite his public denials. And then he gets attacked for lying, when he never really wanted to lie in the first place. He would have been lying to spare other people the discomfort of his mentioning his homosexuality, but now (in my hypothetical) he gets nailed as a Huge Gay Hypocrite Liar.

From his point of view, I can certainly see the value of just saying "Yeah, if you're wondering if I'm gay, I am."

The strongest argument against his statement regards the unfortunate environment we find ourselves in: That as gay rights increase, the left, and the government, has decided that other people's rights must diminish.

If a photographer does not wish to take pictures at a gay wedding for religious, ethical, and moral reasons, the state is now routinely forcing that photographer to either abandon his livelihood or else violate his religious tenets.

I think that is outrageous. But I do not think that fight gets won by criticizing this guy's right to speak the truth about himself.

One can consistently argue in favor of maximum freedom for both parties-- the religious photographer, and the gay athlete who says he's gay -- with no contradiction. In fact, the two things tend to reinforce each other. The gay guy has the right to be gay, and express himself as being gay; the photographer has the right to find homosexuality to be against his principles, and has the right to decline to participate in gay weddings.

And in fact I think this path will more likely lead to the photographer being free to exercise his own conscience -- that is, by adopting a live and let live attitude, the conservative movement can contrast itself with the controlling, You Must Abide By Our Cultural Preferences In Every Last Detail attitude of the left.

As I've said before, I think the conservative side is losing on these issues not because the issues (such as state compulsion to force a religious baker to make a gay wedding cake) aren't, on their own, persuasive, and therefore, on their own, political winners.

I think the trouble is that these issues often come wrapped with a political loser -- a general sort of negative feeling about gays -- which the public, largely, does not share.

People do not think about issues carefully; reason is merely the justifier of decisions made already in the gut. And when two issues come along, one which requires reason (that religious people have the right to opt out of such things) and one which requires no reason, as it it originates in the gut (the public's increasing tolerance for homosexuality, and increasing intolerance for what it considers "anti-gay" sentiment), then the latter, being the easier snap decision to make, will win out, and pull the public towards the leftist, statist position on the other, much more winnable, issue as well.

This is why I frequently urge a cleaving between the one issue (a political winner) and the other issue (a political loser). Even if you don't agree with my analysis, for political reasons, it makes sense to separate a winning issue from a more powerful losing one. If the winning issue is weighed down by a more powerful losing one, it will be dragged down to the bottom of the lake with it.

Even if you disagree sharply with me on the social corrosiveness of homosexuality (and openly admitted homosexuality), you probably have noticed that this position, in terms of pure political strength, has weakened substantially in the past ten years, moving from something that was a 50/50 proposition to something more like a 30/70 losing issue.

Anyway, that's my take. I want this gay football player to feel free to say he's gay, just as I want the religious photographer to feel free -- and not suffer government penalty -- to speak his belief that homosexuality is a sin.

I would like, to the extent possible, to have an arrangement in which the most people possible are as free as possible to do what they think is right without coming to social -- or legal -- grief over it.


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posted by Ace at 03:41 PM

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