Wednesday, February 07, 2007

One's gay, the other not so much

It's like a page from my "Common Elements" comic art gallery: Two otherwise unrelated stories, united by a common theme...

First, former pro basketball player John Amaechi (no relation to the late Don Ameche, a fine comedic actor who couldn't bury a jumper from outside the paint to save his life) — who played center for the Orlando Magic and three other teams during a five-year journeyman NBA career — would like you all to know that he is a gay man.

Second, former Colorado megachurch pastor Ted Haggard — who resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals (no relation to the National Basketball Association) following revelations (no relation to the Biblical book of Revelation) that, when he wasn't thumping the Good Book, Pastor Ted was thumping rent boys and crystal meth — would like you all to know that he is once again a straight man.

Just so everyone's clear before we go on:

Gay man...

...straight man.

Pay attention — there's likely to be a quiz later.

Previously best known for being the first British player in NBA history — although born in Boston, Amaechi grew up near Manchester, England — Amaechi becomes the first NBA player, active or retired, to come out publicly.

Which is interesting, because you've gotta figure Amaechi's not the only gay dude who ever laced up a pair of Chuck Taylors. (So far as I know, Chuck Taylor was not one of them. Not that that would make his sneakers any less cool.)

But the fact is, only six male athletes in American professional team sports have ever come out as gay — NFL players Dave Kopay, Esera Tuaolo, and Roy Simmons; Major League Baseball's Glenn Burke (who died from HIV-related disease in 1995) and Billy Bean (no relation to Billy Beane, the former player and current general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who would like you all to know that he is a straight man — not that there's anything wrong with that); and now Amaechi. Not one of the six came out while still active in his chosen field.

Six gay men in the history of American pro sports? Yeah, right. Given the number of out (or nearly so) lesbians in women's athletics, the law of averages alone says there have to be at least a few gay men in those clubhouses and locker rooms. No one, however, wants to be the first to raise his hand and admit it.

But I guess that's why they call it "the love that dares not speak its name."

And then, there's Pastor Ted, who apparently has decided that if he can't speak it, he won't do it. According to Tim Ralph, one of the current pastors at Haggard's former church in Colorado Springs:
"He is completely heterosexual. That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."
Let's break that quote down, shall we?
  • "He is completely heterosexual." Completely, except for the whole gay male prostitute thing.

  • "That is something he discovered." How does one "discover" that he's "completely heterosexual"? "Yeah, I dabbled in a few sessions of hot, sweaty man-on-man action, but I discovered in the process that I am completely heterosexual." To borrow a line from the immortal Flip Wilson, "You better discover yourself away from here."

  • "It was the acting-out situations where things took place." To be more specific, it was a motel in Colorado Springs "where things took place." Or perhaps it was in the conservatory, with Colonel Mustard and some rope.

  • "It wasn't a constant thing." How exactly does that work? "I'm gay, but it's not a constant thing. I'm only gay on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternating weekends." You know, I've only been heterosexual myself, but it's been pretty darned constant since at least 1969. (No innuendo intended.)
I'm just puzzled as to how Haggard could be gay — or at the very least, bisexual — three months ago, yet "completely heterosexual" now. I couldn't change favorite Chinese restaurants in three months, much less my entire sexual identity.

I'm going to send my checkbook to that counseling center Haggard attended. Maybe they can work a miracle on that in 90 days or less.

At least John Amaechi has a book to sell.

All right, ready for the pop quiz? Here we go:

Which is the gay man...

...and which is the straight man?

You thought this would be easier, didn't you?

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