Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Gay Players in The NBA: The Dark Side
When the NBA's Jason Collins came out of the closet last week, the first active player in a major American pro sport to admit being gay, he was congratulated by every one, from the President to NBA players like Kobe Bryant. No one, it seemed, had any objections.
While most NBA players have no problem with having gay teammates, some aren't crazy about the idea. These days, however, voicing such homophobic opinions publicly isn't politically correct. Three sources explained how this negative faction thinks. Tuned into the underbelly of the league, these sources are young male college grads who are members of the national NBA underground, handling some of the backdoor business for the players. These "associates" talked about the dark side of the NBA's attitude toward gays..
"You should hear how some of these guys talk privately about gays, both inside and outside of the locker room," says an Ivy Leaguer known as Dr. K. "You hear faggot, sissy, queer, etc.They make jokes about gays, real nasty jokes. They tell stories about beating up gays when they were young. They don't respect gays and think they're inferior. These guys don't want gay teammates."
Is this just a handful of players who have these attitudes?
Replied a source named Sugar, who went to the University of Arizona: "It's not just a few guys. This comes from dozens of players I've dealt with over the years. I'm around them when they're high and boozed up. That's when they really start talking trash about gays."
Added Dr. K: "You hear this kind of negative stuff from a lot of NBA guys all over the country, particularly back east. They make fun of gays and the gay life-style. It's part of being a macho jock. If you're a stud, with women hanging all over you, you're cool. The opposite of being a stud is being gay."
What do these anti-gay players object to most about gay players?
Replies Dr. K: "What I get is that the straight players just don't feel comfortable around gays, like they're aliens. It's like they're scared of gays. They don't trust them. For one thing if there were a lot of gay players out of the closet, these gay-haters think the locker room wouldn't be the same. The gay jokes would have to go. Everybody would have to watch what they say. A big thing would be that the players would not feel comfortable in the shower or walking around with no clothes on if there were gay guys around. That's a big deal. They think gay players would be making eyes at them and hitting on them."
Apparently much of the anti-gay sentiment comes from black players. A source known as Davy J, a Georgetown grad who operates mainly on the east coast, speculates that the roots of these attitudes are culturally based.
"I know for a fact that some black players don't like gays. A lot of these players grew up in the hood and still hang out with friends they grew up with. In a lot of hoods, gays are looked down upon, regarded as freaks and outsiders..From what my parents tell me, it's not as bad as it used to be twenty, thirty years ago, but that negative attitude, that fear of gays, is still there. Look, a lot of these players ain't too bright. They went to college but they have some backward views. They think like they're still in the hood. You'd be surprised how many of them don't like whites or Jews and, deep down, are cold-blooded racists. They grew up thinking this way. Some of them won't change."
Continues Davy J: "In the hood gays are the bottom of the barrel. They're looked at as weak and not manly. I have a buddy from Compton who's gay. He's in the closet and says he's never coming out. He thinks people in the hood, his friends and family, would look down on him if they found out, thinking he's less than a man. He says he couldn't deal with the backlash. He's scared of being found out. I feel sorry for the dude."
What the NBA's homophobes don't realize is that there have been closeted gay players in the league for years. Says Davy J: "There's been some gay players right under the noses of straight players who didn't have any idea what was going on. I know about some of them because I've helped them hook up with guys. I've seen some of the gay haters walking around in the locker room with no clothes on or with hardly any clothes on, in front of gay guys they didn't know were gay."
What happens in the NBA sometimes, according to Sugar, is that players with either wives or girlfriends are quietly having gay sex on the side. They're either bi-sexual or straights who dabble in gay sex on the down-low (street lingo for that life style)..
Says Dr.K: "I know for sure of one well-known player who's on the down-low. There are a few others I've heard about. If word got out on this one guy people would really be surprised. By the way, Jason Collins' coming out didn't really surprise me. I'd heard in the rumor mill that he might be on the down-low."
The gay players these sources know about--are they stars or, like Collins, fringe players?
Reports Sugar: "I know of at least three stars who're gay, two out of the league and one currently playing. But the gay players I know about have been mostly backup and end-of-the-bench players, guys who know they can be easily replaced. They think if people found out they were gay, they might not get jobs. So they're deep in the closet."
Davy J points out an interesting and little-known phenomenon about gays in the NBA: "Not all gay players are in the closet. Some are slightly out of the closet., on a very limited basis. Some friends and teammates and coaches know their secret, but that's all. Apparently it's been like that for many years."
Why do Davy J and backdoor operatives like him not expose these gay players to the media?
Replies Davy J: "I grew up in the hood, on the east coast. I learned you don't rat on people. We get well paid for our services, which includes keeping secrets, not mentioning names. This gay thing is low on the totem pole. There are secrets in my world much bigger than NBA players in the closet. Like there's an NBA player having an affair with the wife of a big-time politician. If that got out all hell would break loose. Naming names isn't right. It goes against the code."
What's going to happen in the wake of Collins' announcement?
Speculates Davy J: "It depends on the long-term reaction. If he gets signed by some team and he gets endorsements and becomes famous and the fans don't give him a hard time, I think other gay players will come out in the next year. But then there's the gay haters. They will be a problem. They're going to cause some tension in the locker room. Most of the players and most of the fans might be cool with gay players coming out of the closet, but those gay haters...I don't know. They could make life uncomfortable for gay players."
In the next year or two, look for gay players to come out of the closet, with some fanfare and media attention. But in ten years, after a few years of adjustment that may involve some unpleasantness and even some nastiness, gay players will be commonplace. The media attention will fade. But the anti-gay hostility in the locker room? I agree with Davy J. This negativity is fear-based and grounded in ignorance. It's going to take a lot longer than ten years for that to go away..
Posted by Dennis Hunt at 1:53 PM