Sean Avery is refreshing. Eclectic. Tough. Successful. Courageous.
And not gay.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or is there?
In my column in this week’s dead tree version of Sportatorium, I examine how it is that the Dallas Stars’ tough guy balances being one of the NHL’s most macho goons with a fashion fetish that has him interning at Vogue and -- gasp! -- befriending homosexuals.
Though he’s banged the likes of Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter, Avery says he gets called “faggot” and “homo” on the ice. Same thing, after reading the wafer-thin forbearance of Robert Jeffress, he could apparently be called at the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Nice.
Not going to go all Bible Boy on you, but I have some red-blooded, blue-shaded thoughts.
For years I looked at homosexuals as nothing more than voluntary sexual deviants. Some people like porn. Some leather whips. Some desire sex with the same sex. No big whoop.
Then one day my younger brother pulled me aside.
“Ya know how you like women?,” he said nervously as we walked my dog. “Well, I like men.”
“Really?” I replied. “Wow. That’s cool I guess.”
And in the years following his “coming out” – while he was temporarily ostracized by pockets of our family – I learned that there was nothing voluntary about it all.
“I’m shunned by my family, excluded by society, ridiculed on the street and lawmakers refuse to recognize my rights,” he told me once. “What kind of idiot would choose that?”
Though well left of right, I’m not gay. I have a wife and an 11-year-old and an only slightly quirky sex drive. I don’t, however, own a gun or a pickup or a beer belly, which, to some – honest – colors me “gay.”
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I also have an open mind. Born and raised Southern Baptist, I’ve been to Episcopal and Methodist and Fellowship churches in the last year and I believe the higher being that jump-started this rock would in no way ignore homosexuals, as Jeffress contends, much less the Hindus, Mormons, Muslims or other reglions that make up 67 percent of the world’s non-Christian population.
Barack Obama notwithstanding – actually, it was that one step forward that made me realize how two-steps-backward we generally remain – I’m disgusted by our country’s naïve dismissal and fervent intolerance for anything different. Be it bullies in Oak Lawn or sharp-tongued hockey players or dogmatic voters in California or Baptist bigots in the pulpit, you’d think being gay isn’t okay and gay-bashing is a badge of honor.
Different doesn't equal inferior. Just different. Because a person is gay doesn’t automatically mean he is unholy or unworthy. Any more than because we elected a black, liberal President we’re automatically going to spontaneously combust into a country headed to Hell now that God-less socialists have the keys to the castle.
What I’m trying to say is, thank you to Sean Avery for being unique. And thanks to my brother for being himself. – Richie Whitt