Warning: Having re-read this post, it's rather sexual in nature. Readers be aware.
A couple weeks ago, Adrian Peterson, star running back for the local footballers made some public statements on gay marriage. Peterson said that gay marriage was something he couldn't endorse, but that he holds no animosity toward homosexuals.
Peterson's comments came in the context of being asked by media members to address the release of Chris Kluwe from the Vikings, the punter who was vehemently and disgustingly pro gay (I say disgustingly because Kluwe wrote several pieces that were so lined with filth and vulgarity, and so full of vitriol and hatred toward anyone who dared disagree with him, that I refuse to link to them here).
When Peterson made his comments, there were several reactions in the sports media. Some did not approve; others said they respected him for sharing his opinion.
And then this week Adrian was asked some follow up questions regarding his previous comments. Peterson elaborated by saying that he wouldn't have a problem with having an openly gay teammate. He says he'd still high-five him, pat him on the rear, and go about playing the game. He did mention, however, that he'd feel uncomfortable showering with a gay teammate. You can read about all of his comments here.
When Kluwe came out with his over-the-top, hateful comments endorsing the homosexual lifestyle and damning all those who dared disagree, one of my many reactions to his sentiment was that he should just shut up and play football (some people think the Vikings thought this as well, as it is rumored that some of the higher-ups in the organization questioned Kluwe's ability to be so involved in the gay marriage debate and remain focused on his job on the field). You're a football player. Just play football. I had somewhat of the same reaction with Peterson, even though he comes down more on my side of the issue. He's a football player. We don't need to know what he thinks about gay marriage in order for him to play football, or for us to enjoy watching him play the game. Hey pro athletes: just stick to what you know.
But what has intrigued me the most about this latest hubub has been the reaction of the local sports media. Once in a while, when I'm not listening to Wretched Radio podcasts, I tune into ESPN 1500 on the AM dial and listen to Reusse and Mackey. Patrick Reusse is the seasoned curmudgeon, while Phil Mackey is the young punk sports reporter. The two usually play off each other really well, and it can be very entertaining sports radio.
This afternoon they were talking about this situation with Peterson, and Mackey said that his problem with Peterson's statements was that it seemed as though Peterson was trying to go out of his way to assure everyone that he didn't have a problem with gay people, when he actually did. In short, Mackey was implying that Peterson's comments were a sort of bigotry-light, or like trying to sugar-coat discrimination.
For example, argued Mackey, what if, instead of being gay, a person had a head cold? It would be odd to say that you would still high-five or pat someone on the rear who had a head cold. Of course you would! Why wouldn't you? Of course you would shower with someone who had a head cold. To refuse to shower with someone just because they had a head cold would be ridiculous.
Granted, all analogies break down eventually, but Phil's never even makes it out of the gate. He's equating playing with an openly homosexual player with playing with someone who has a head cold. The two situations are not even close to analogous.
A more apt analogy would be, perhaps, what it would be like for a man to play a professional sport with a woman. Would you high-five her? Sure. Pat her on the rear end when she makes a good play? Whoa. Now we've just crossed a boundary, haven't we? Why would it be inappropriate for a man to slap a woman on the behind after a good play? Because men are attracted to women and vice versa, and the gluteus maximus is considered to be off limits when it comes to congratulatory slaps between genders, giving a congratulatory tap on the cheeks would definitely be off limits. A man slapping a woman on the bottom - even in congratulatory fashion - would, by nature, be a sexual act.
But when it comes to a gay man who is attracted to other men, shouldn't the same rules apply? I would think so. Personally, I wouldn't slap a gay man on the behind for the same reasons I wouldn't slap a woman on the rear, because it is a sexual act. This is why straight men slapping other straight men on the butt is not a sexual act - because they are all men and there is no sexual attraction between them. But with gay men there is a difference. Although they are also men, their sexual attraction is toward men which would make touching their rear end in any way a sexual act. In fact, slapping a woman on the rear end could constitute sexual harassment, or even assault. Would it not be the same for a gay man?
But then we go beyond butt-slapping. What about showering? Would a man feel uncomfortable showering with a woman who is not his wife? Definitely. Why? Again, because men and women are attracted to one another, and showering while naked is an intimate act that is not shared between common acquaintances. So then, if gay men are attracted to men, then wouldn't gay men showering with other men be an act with an underlying sexual nature? Again, I would think so. I wouldn't shower with a woman who was not my wife, nor would I shower with a gay man, because both actions would be sexual in nature.
This is not to say that gay men are women, but they share a similarity with women in that they are physically attracted to the male gender. Having a head cold does not make you attracted to naked men - it simply makes your nose stuffy and runny.
That's a bit different from a head cold, Phil.