Coming Out

Folks, I have an announcement to make. I have thought this through long and hard. I’ve never talked about this to anybody over the years, all throughout my life. I think the time has come to reveal my secret to the world.

 

I am heterosexual.

Now, I fully expect the media to come around and hold extensive interviews with me. This is big news, after all. This defines me as a human being. This is what matters when it comes to who I am and what contributions I can have to society. So I will sit here patiently and await the presumably short time it takes for the press to read this and come calling.

Anybody?

*crickets*

Okay, well, maybe not. I guess nobody cares about my sexual preference. Despite my previous act, I’m not surprised that this gets no attention for a two very good reasons. a) It really is nobody’s business besides my own and b) I’m a nobody, an unknown schmuck who has very little exposure or celebrity at this point.

Now, in case you haven’t heard, Jason Collins is gay. Who is Jason Collins, you ask? Don’t worry, I didn’t know either until recently. He is, apparently, a fairly mediocre basketball player. Probably would have barely registered in most search engines and on sports news broadcasts. But now everything is Jason Collins. All because he told us he’s attracted to men.

I greeted the news of Jason Collins’ coming out party with a particularly hearty yawn. Didn’t care, still don’t. The news folks are gushing all over it. Historic, it seems. The first openly-gay active player in major professional sports and all that. What an accomplishment! So brave in this day and age to tell the world who you like to have sex with. Thank God we’ve progressed so far as to be fascinated by people’s sex lives! Why, the President even called him to congratulate him. The first black president called the first openly-gay basketball player. Whoopee!

Maybe I’m missing something, but how exactly does this relate to his basketball career? What difference does his sexual life have to do with anything that is any of our business? Do people think that his sub-par performances in games should be ignored in favor of elevating him for his sexuality? I hope not, but it sounds like that’s the case.

I suppose I’m just baffled by this because I’ve never understood the bigoted mentality. I’ve never understood the thought process that places different worth on human beings based on sexuality, skin color, religion, gender, etc. I’ve always been taught to love my neighbor, not to favor one group of people over another, and that all people are created equal. As such, I wish Jason Collins and anybody else would keep their sexual lives to themselves. It’s none of my business, and they have no business shoving it in my face, either. I wouldn’t call to congratulate him any more than I would call to chastize him. It’s neither good nor bad – it just is. So freaking what?

I see so much of it. Someone “comes out” on a late-night talk show. Gossip magazines have articles about whether certain celebrities are gay or not. Co-workers come up to me saying, “Do you know so-and-so is gay?” To all of which I say, “Who cares?” I don’t care. Newspeople, stop encouraging this. The more we place emphasis on something irrelevant, such as a basketball player’s sexuality, the more we feed the flames of bigotry. Placing emphasis on sexual preference is the opposite of what an unbigoted society should be doing. Jason Collins as a basketball player should be judged solely on his on-court actions and abilities. Jason Collins as a human being should be judged equal to any other human being on the planet. Jason Collins as a lover should be judged by his partner, and none of us. I wouldn’t be surprised if this announcement gets Collins some endorsement deals and perhaps even more play time than his basketball performance merits. All because he’s attracted to men.

This transcends even homosexuality. No human being should be defined by sexual preference, race, gender, etc. Genetic differences do not equal differences in worth. Until we stop treating these unimportant things as important, we will never attain a truly unbigoted society. The media should be concerned with two things only regarding Jason Collins: his basketball performance, and the fact that he is a human being. Anything else is and should remain irrelevant.

Our Thoughts and Prayers

There’s a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot of lately. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.” I hear that same phrase during any major disaster or massacre. Sometimes it seems almost obscene how readily people thrust themselves in front of the camera to utter those words. It has sadly become almost clichéd.

I don’t say this to be critical or unfeeling. I know that even the clumsiest of these attempts is heartfelt and well-meaning. During a time of trauma people have a general tendency to sympathize with victims and anyone else affected by a tragedy. There’s really little else most of us can do. I am across the country from Boston and I have no way of providing any substantive assistance to anybody there. As a matter of fact, they probably have so many people in the area anxious to help that I would be nothing but a fifth wheel.

That phrase carries with it a few things. This first is the aforementioned sympathy. Who can look upon such destruction and not feel something? I can only imagine competing in a grueling marathon only to have my supportive loved ones harmed in a senseless act of destruction. The pain and suffering and sorrow would probably be a near-impossible burden to bear. It is an event that refocuses our eyes with sobriety on the terrible toll of human suffering enacted every day by the malicious or negligent among us.

The second thing that phrase evokes is a sense of frustration. Thoughts, no matter how fervent, will do nothing to help anybody affected by this tragedy in any substantive way, except for those who might possess the power of telekinesis. Prayers could be said to be helpful, but their benefit is nebulous at best. They certainly don’t hurt, but the real power to help these people lies with those who are physically near the victims and their families and who have the training or ability to provide benefit. I have to face it – as much as I’d like to be Johnny-on-the-spot during these tragedies, I am forever relegated to the role of spectator.

In fact, acts of terror like the Boston incident tend to remind us all too well how helpless we truly are. One of the striking realizations is how many security personnel were in the immediate area. They were so close that they were already congregating on the victims in the matter of seconds between the two bomb blasts. I have heard of no egregious lapses in security. What could they have done, after all? Without giving up a frightening amount of freedoms, attacks like that probably can’t be completely avoided. It’s scary to think about. Terrorists aim to strike fear into the hearts of their victims and to demoralize them. Sometimes it seems like their tactics are effective and the evil worshippers of death and destruction are winning.

But then I look at the people involved in these incidents. I see terrified people, sure, but I also see people running to the place where a bomb just exploded without thought of their own safety. I see people who are undoubtedly dehydrated and exhausted from running a marathon digging deep and thinking nothing of themselves and wholly of those who stand in need of help. And I realize after seeing those images that they, like the phrase I mentioned, are also something I have seen over and over again. Only this isn’t clichéd. This is humanity at its strongest.

How many heroes have emerged from tragedies? How many people’s first instinct is to run toward the bomb blast and pull debris off of victims, or to dash up the steps of a burning skyscraper that’s in danger of falling apart? How many people who might otherwise flip someone the bird for cutting them off would claw and scratch until those same fingers were bloody and bruised in order to save a total stranger who is buried in rubble? How many mild-mannered businessmen would tackle an armed hijacker on a plane, or throw themselves in front of a child to take a bullet? There has never been a tragedy that I have witnessed that hasn’t produced far more heroes than victims. When I see people extending their thoughts and prayers, I see people who desperately wish that they could be there, doing something, getting their hands dirty, just to be of assistance to people they don’t know from Adam.

What I see is the opposite of demoralization. If these wastes of skin wish to break the will of the people they attack, they are doing a piss-poor job of it.