Collins is a 12-year journeyman who has played for six NBA teams, and is currently looking for his seventh. Therefore, his courageous stand is undermined by the fact that he waited to take it on his way out of the league.
Still, I’m cynical enough to believe that, given the way he’s being hailed as the Jackie Robinson of gay athletes, an NBA team would sign him as much for his pioneering PR value as for what little contribution he could make at this point as a glorified bench warmer.
(“NBA Player Comes Out as Gay. Great! But Courageous?” The iPINIONS Journal, April 30, 2013)
Everyone in the mainstream and social media is hailing the Brooklyn Nets for making Jason Collins the first openly gay player in professional sports:
Jason Collins broke an incredible barrier on Sunday, becoming the first openly gay athlete in one of the United States’ four major professional sports when he checked in for the Nets.
It was a big moment not just for the NBA, but in sports history.
(CBS Sports, February 24, 2014)
Of course, I predicted it would be thus -- as my opening quote affirms. Except that, just as Collins undermined the historic nature of his coming out by waiting until he was leaving or, more accurately, getting cut from the NBA, the Nets undermined the historic nature of his signing by offering him only a “10-day contract.”
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
Which is why, far from applauding them, gay activists and sports commentators should be condemning Collins and the Nets for using the noble cause of gay civil rights for little more than a PR stunt.
Frankly, the Brooklyn Nets seem only interested in claiming historic symmetry with the Brooklyn Dodgers -- who made history in April 1947 by signing Jackie Robinson as the first black player in professional sports.
The glaring difference, however, is that the Dodgers did not sign Robinson as a token black, hoping to profit from whatever media coverage and public goodwill it generates. They signed Robinson to help them win baseball games, which he did … and then some.
By contrast, Collins got cut from the NBA last year because he was washed up, not because he “came out.” Accordingly, nobody should expect him to do anything but serve as the token gay in the NBA. And he immediately proved himself worthy of this dubious distinction, scoring zero points and having zero impact during the 11 minutes he played in his first game back on Sunday night.
Moreover, let’s not overlook that, by participating in this stunt, Collins denied football player Michael Sam this acclaim of becoming the first openly gay player in professional sports. Sam is the defensive lineman from the University of Missouri who made national news by coming out three weeks ago; not least because he did so just months before the NFL Draft in May. Now that, Jason Collins, was courageous!
Indeed, you could be forgiven the suspicion that Collins, the Nets, and the NBA actually concocted this signing so that they, not Sam, his draft team, and the NFL, would go down in history as doing for gays in professional sports what Robinson, the Dodgers, and MLB did for blacks.
Incidentally, let’s overlook reports that Sam is performing so poorly at this week’s NFL combine (aka tryouts), he’d be lucky to be drafted at all instead of in the early rounds as generally expected. He will be drafted!
Uganda’s president has signed a controversial anti-gay bill that allows harsh penalties for ‘homosexual offences’ calling them ‘mercenaries’ and ‘prostitutes’.
Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed the bill, which holds that homosexuals be jailed for long terms, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays.
(Al Jazeera, February 25, 2014)
This new law will surprise nobody who knows anything about the growing hostility towards homosexuals across Africa, where homosexuality is taboo in every country and already illegal in 37.
For example, to facilitate the witch-hunt it sanctions, a Ugandan newspaper published the names and pictures of hundreds of homosexual “suspects.” But it would not surprise me if newspapers in other countries, like Nigeria and Gambia, ape this perverse form of informing the public.
Sadly, apart from urging LGBT people living in Uganda to either stay deep in the closet or get the hell out of the country, I don’t know what anyone can say or do to protect them. After all, Western leaders have spent the past three years condemning Syrian President Assad for massacring women and children but doing nothing to stop him. Therefore, that they’ve begun condemning Ugandan President Museveni for oppressing homosexuals is hardly worthy of note.
What is noteworthy is that this law is just the latest manifestation of the oppressive governance China -- as a superpower rising -- is enabling throughout the developing world. Because the only reason Uganda is defying the West like this is that China has made it clear -- to everyone from genocidal maniacs to homophobes and kleptomaniacs -- that it will more than compensate for any financial or economic sanction Western countries impose pursuant to their political, social, and moral values.
In fact, during an interview with CNN on Monday, reporter Zain Verjee asked Museveni if he was at all concerned about this law incurring the wrath of the United States. This question was especially pertinent in light of the fact that, according to a February 18, 2014 Reuters report, President Obama personally called to lobby him against signing the bill and warned of financial reprisals if he did.
Yet I watched as Museveni took newfound pride in dismissing (or dissing) Obama’s call as tantamount to blackmail unbecoming of dealings between friendly nations, before telling the United States to mind its own business:
Respect African societies and their values. If you don’t agree, just keep quiet. Let us manage our society… just the way we don’t interfere with yours… [Of course I dislike homosexuals] they’re disgusting!
Mind you, homosexuality is as deeply rooted in Uganda as it is in the United States. But it’s no accident that the president of Uganda is now using the same words to defend his country’s abuse of homosexuals that the president of China uses to defend his country’s abuse of political dissidents.
What’s more, this is the same president of Uganda, who, just years ago, the president of the United States was hailing for his progressive policies towards treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS:
President Bush praised Uganda for its handling of the AIDS pandemic, saying the East African country was leading the world in combating its spread.
‘You have shown the world what is possible in terms of reducing infection rates,’ Bush told Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday.
(CNSNews, July 7, 2008)
This is why the only way even the mighty United States can influence government policies in an increasing number of developing countries is to seek China’s blessing … and assistance.
Meanwhile, given that gays are still fighting for their civil rights in most Western countries, Westerners condemning this Ugandan law risk being accused of brazen hypocrisy. American evangelicals -- who spread their gospel of homophobia throughout Africa faster than the spread of HIV/AIDS -- personify this hypocrisy.
In fact, this law reflects the success these crusaders have had imposing extreme Christian values on Africans that they’ve been unable to impose on Americans. The Christian jihadists in Arizona -- tried to no avail this week to enact a bill making it legal for them to refuse public services to gay people -- will attest to this. Because, despite the media stoking conflict and suspense for commercial purposes, it was always patently clear that the pragmatic governor of Arizona would veto this bill.
Not to mention the Coalition of African American Pastors who are trying to impeach (black) US Attorney General Eric Holder for entreating state attorneys general to ignore state laws banning gay marriages.
In other words, Museveni could be forgiven for telling Obama to deal with homophobia in America before trying to deal with it in Africa.