Jeff Pearlman

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Gays, straights and mindless ESPN banter

So Jemele Hill, my pal and former Quaz subject, is doing a mailbag for ESPN.com. Her first one came out today.

Jemele discussed the recent comments from former Giant receiver David Tyree, who spoke forcefully against gay marriage. A few days earlier Hill had sort of supported Hill’s rights to be a bigot, eh … express his opinions, and the reaction was pretty strong.

In today’s column, Jemele wrote this:

The passionate responses to the Tyree column reminded me of an honest and thoughtful blog written by NBA analyst Chris Broussard, a devout Christian, after former NBA player John Amaechi disclosed in 2007 he is gay. Broussard wrote he believes the NBA is ready for a gay player, but he also powerfully laid out that while he’s against homosexuality that doesn’t preclude him from being friends with ESPN.com columnist LZ Granderson, who is openly gay (and a dear friend of mine, too).

Broussard wrote: “LZ and I know where each other stand and we respect each other’s right to believe as he does. I know he’s gay, and he knows I believe that’s a sin. I know he thinks I get my moral standards from an outdated, mistranslated book, and he knows I believe he needs to change his lifestyle. Still, we can laugh together, and play ball together.

That’s real diversity. Disagreeing but not being disagreeable.”

Well put.

I don’t know Broussard or Granderson—but I do know this is (with all apologies to Jemele) bullshit. Chris Broussard is, I’m guessing, an educated, intelligent, exposed human being. He’s met people of all different creeds and religions and, well, he should be ashamed. Absolutely, positively, 100 percent ashamed. “He should change his lifestyle“?! What? Chris, Granderson is gay, not a member of the Rotary. That’s not something you change; not something you end with the cancelation of a membership. I get the point of the column … that people from different sides can still be close and blah, blah, blah. But—no. Not here. For Broussard to believe Granderson needs to change is for Broussard to be extremely, extremely, extremely naive and, yes, homophobic. I would no sooner ask a gay person to change than a black person to change, a tall person to change, a hairy person to change. It’s who you are, not what you choose.

Man, so inane …

  • jra999

    One of the wordy things that bugs me about this argument: “Broussard, a devout Christian.” … who with an honest belief system isn’t devout? Otherwise it’s all B.S. “Devout” gets attached to Christianity more than any other use.

    And that picture distills why religion gives me the creeps. No real people do that. Unless they find a great parking place.

  • Kevin B.

    This is such a tough issue. I spent one year living in the American south, which was enough time to meet people of deeply-felt, honest evangelical faith, people who believed that their religion was not a la carte — they had to accept all of its tenants — but who nevertheless embraced the concept of loving the “sinner,” but hating the “sin” when it came to sexual orientation. I believe these people are wrong and that they ought to find a faith that accepts people for who they are, but to dismiss their faith as bigotry out of hand, seems wrong to me. Believing deeply in the divinity of Jesus Christ, doesn’t make sense to me, but it is not, on its own, an endorsement of hate. Anyway, I came away with a belief that the way we are addressing same sex marriage in this country — changing minds a state at a time — while grossly unfair to members of the LGBT community may be the best way actually institute same sex marriage nationwide. We are gradually changing peoples minds and there are a lot of decent people out there, who may need some time to see the light. It shouldn’t have to happen that way, but in practice it works. Anyway, I think we run a risk of poisoning the necessary public discourse if we start throwing brickbats at people like Broussard, who’s opinion, while wrongheaded, comes from an honest place.

  • Kevin B.

    Oh, and jra999, I take “devout Christian” to be shorthand for active and practicing, to differentiate him from someone who culturally identifies himself with a particular faith, but no longer actively participates in the religion. For example, it would be accurate to call me a Catholic — I received my Confirmation and haven’t been excommunicated — but as I also haven’t been to a Mass of the non-funeral/wedding variety in more than ten years, it wouldn’t be accurate to call me a “devout Catholic.”

  • John Wagoner

    Question Jeff, how many people have you heard of who used to live a homosexual lifestyle that no longer do? I’ve heard of many.

    How many people do you know that used to be black that aren’t anymore?

    Apples and oranges, buddy.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      John, really? Name one. One. And not from a 700 Club segment …

  • Kevin B.

    John – Yes. I know people who were in same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships and some of them ended up marrying someone of the opposite sex. Sexuality may not be binary, but a continuum. Some people self identify as bisexual and there probably are some people who may be merely experimenting. So maybe a handful of experimenters mean race isn’t a perfect analogue for sexual-orientation. Its pretty close, though, because at its most basic level sexual orientation is not a choice. It’s innate.

  • Boomhauertjs

    @ John – Michael Jackson

  • Horace

    Jemele Hill is a moron – don’t put any stock in a word she says. She’s dumber than rocks.

  • Marty

    In response John Wagoner’s dumb and insulting logic: Michael Jackson.

    I’m with Kevin B in that gay marriage is going to have to happen gradually on a state-by-state basis (good luck with places like Utah). It sucks, but it’s true.

  • Dr. K

    Marty,

    You could also throw Sammy Sosa into that mix.

  • Bobby Fetter

    I think both groups have something sorely lacking in their lives that they try to cling to larger groups as their “identity.”
    Evangelical Christians, the Gay community, etc….These are not “ethnic” groups. These are lifestyle choices and in my opinion personal business.
    “Chris Broussard, a devout Christian, and former NBA player John Amaechi, who disclosed in 2007 he is gay.”
    All I need to know about these 2 people are their knowledge of basketball (if I even care about that) and that’s it!!!!

  • DG

    Jeff, you squander your credibility when you mention Hill. On Broussard, I’m actually amazed he wasn’t punished by the network for saying those things. And while we’re on the topic of credibility, Broussard lost his credibility when he ingratiated himself with LeBron’s inner-circle and printed quote upon anonymous quote fed to him by the manipulators in that bunch. Granderson’s only crime here is being mentioned in the same post as those two hacks.

  • muhammed goldstein

    Who on earth is Chris Broussard to make judgements on other people’s identities? When are these idiots going to realize that it’s God who made people gay or straight from birth??

  • jra999

    Good point about “devout,” Kevin B. Guess I’ve never heard “devout atheist.”

  • Carl

    DON’T BRING UP JEMELE HILL AGAIN.

  • Ted

    Broussard is “against homosexuality…” Well, I’m against effing morons such as Broussard.

  • Carl

    We live in America a democracy not a theocracy Brussard seems tolive in the latter. And please stop with the patronizing( I have gay friends).Im black male heterosex
    ual and I reconize gays as the same as blacks wanting equal rights. Mr Brussard gets to marry whom he chooses and live his life so why so hard to see the same for his gay “friends”? HE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE A BIGOT BUT DON’T run from it with (I have gay friemds)

  • Greg

    Being black and being gay are not at all the same. The first i just how someone is born, something that cannot change naturally. However, being gay is not the same way. it is not a “way of being” and someone is not “born that way.” It is a choice. It is an unnatural choice which contradicts God’s law. Someone’s will and passions are most certainly disordered if they go against God’s law and also human nature so disturbingly. this society has just succumbed so much to vice that we openly accept sin as a norm, and even as a good. God created Adam and Eve first, not Adam and Steve…and for a good reason…..

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