John Perricone was the first blogger I ever talked to when I started Bronx Banter. John is from the Bronx but has lived on the west coast for some years, and concentrates on all things involving the S.F. Giants in his blog, “Only Baseball Matters.” Perricone took some time off from blogging last season, but now he’s back, and the site looks better than ever. Head on over.
Ciepley doesn’t see the discrimination that the first openly gay ballplayer will face from homophobic fans and teammates as the worst of his potential troubles:
To me, the biggest encumbrance will be fame – specifically, fame within the gay community. A gay ballplayer would make nationwide news, but he would be of much greater stature among queers: he would instantly become one of the most significant gay figures in all of American history. The impact of this cannot be understated. Openly gay sportsmen and women are expected to be spokespeople, and a gay athlete in the national past time would be acclaimed like no one before him. He would have Visa and Mastercards with his mug on them, he would be expected to pop up at rallies and parades, and cover stories would appear in The Advocate and Out, if not Time and Newsweek.
And with the fame would come criticicm. In this case, not the heckling fans and boorish teammates, but the carping from within the gay community. Martina Navratilova was seen as too “mannish” for some gays’ tastes, just as there was a misplaced fear that Greg Louganis’ outing would only reinforce stereotypes that all gay men had AIDS. These digs will be vastly outnumbered by the hero chants, of course, but they are the attacks that will have the greatest sting. No one expects to be bashed by the people whose cause you support.
The challenges a gay ballplayer would face may seem obvious at first, starting with the need to gain acceptance from your teammates and fans. But to an out player’s surprise, the hardest audience of all may not be in the locker room or stadium. It may be the throng of Gay America that welcomes the player as he steps out the closet door, eager to embrace, herald, and scrutinize him at every turn.
Great stuff from Ciepley. If you haven’t already, make Ball Talk one of your regular stops in blogland, regardless of whether or not you is Queer or a Cubs fan.