Culliver’s homophobia is the tip of the iceberg
When San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver was asked by a shock jock this week if there were any gay players on his team, his answer set off a firestorm.
“No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah… can’t be… in the locker room man. Nah.”
Culliver was rightly criticized and the team put out an apology. Culliver himself gave a perplexing apology.
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” he said in a statement released by the team. “It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”
It was a reflection of your thoughts and not how you feel? That’s crap. This is exactly why I’ve written in the past that I hate our culture of forced apologies. We start it young when we force children to spit out an insincere “I’m sorry” and then all is well.
Many were surprised at Cullver’s idiotic homophobic remarks since the 49ers were the first NFL team to film an “It gets better” video. The anti-bullying videos were started by Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller in response to the suicides of gay teens. But right after the Culliver flap, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga who appeared in the video, denied appearing in it.
After being shown the video, Brooks responded, “Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay (rights) video.” Sopoanga had no comment. It could be that players do so many PSAs and charity gigs that they forgot. But their skittishness seems to be over being associated with the LGBT community. That’s obviously the way Dan Savage saw it when he pulled the 49ers video from the It Gets Better website tweeting: “We’ve removed the #49ers #ItGetsBetter video from our website. http://huff.to/YmkK2S #homophobia #NFL #horseshit.”
He’s right. It is horseshit.
It’s not earthshaking news that the NFL has a homophobia problem. The fact that there has never been and there is not now one openly gay active NFL player screams that fact. Does anyone believe out of 1,952 players none are gay? The fact that no one feels safe enough to come out speaks volumes for what they fear they would face if they did.
While it’s true that a player might not want the tremendous media attention that would descend upon the NFL’s first openly gay player, who can doubt that what they fear most is the scorn and ostracism from teammates? It’s reasonable to infer that they’ve heard the comments from their teammates in the locker room and know coming out is not an option.
The fact that Chris Culliver felt comfortable enough to make his juvenile remarks on the radio also speaks volumes. You’re high if you believe Culliver is the only homophobe on the team.
Sure SF Coach Jim Harbaugh has said he’d welcome a gay player, and players like the Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo and the Minnesota Vikings’ Chris Kluwe have voiced support for marriage equality. But I’d bet money that Culliver’s sentiments would garner more high fives in an NFL locker room than Ayanbadejo’s.
I think it’s going to take an actual active NFL player to come out in order to break down the walls of homophobia. It’s a lot to ask for, but when a gay “Jackie Robinson” emerges, I think it will encourage others to come out.
If one of the sport’s most dominant players came out it would challenge his team, the league and the fans to deal with it and get over their bias.
And as for having gay teammates in the locker room, Chris Culliver, they’re already there. For any NFL player concerned about it, if Marines can deal with it and accept it, then big tough grown men being paid to play a game should be able to.
Grow up, NFL.