Once upon a time (we’ll say early-1990s), I was in middle school. The President was Bill Clinton, and that was about when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for military personnel was implemented. That policy was recently abolished by the Obama administration, but back then, even as an adolescent, I thought it was unfair. Why does it matter who that particular soldier loved or was attracted to when it didn’t interfere with his job? The man or woman in uniform is willing to take a bullet for their fellow soldier and country, which is the ultimate sacrifice of all. In my opinion (back then and now) it shouldn’t matter. I wrote a speech for my English class then (we had to learn how speak in public) explaining my position on gays in the military and why I think they should serve without discrimination or harassment. With young people, many of whom probably came from homes where their parents thought a certain way, you can imagine the amount of ridicule I got for it. I still remember the teasing but I’m satisfied to note that now, in the year 2013, it did get better and will get better.
And now we turn our focus to baseball.
In today’s Big League Stew, we learned that Jeff Weaver and Jered Weaver, brothers who pitched in Southern California (Jered is still active and a recent Cy Young candidate) were sitting in on a radio show hosted by Robert Fick and Dmitri Young. The subject shifted to the prospect of homosexual teammates in the clubhouse. While Fick and Young weren’t exactly tactful with their opinions, the brothers Weaver (possibly because they grew up in liberal California) took the opposite approach. I found that very admirable.
As an immigrant, I was brought up with most of my parents’ values but was allowed to set my own set of values. I pretty much had the general “Thou shalt not kill” stuff and the “be excellent to each other” attitude. I am a registered Republican but identify as libertarian, in which I just want to be mostly left alone but recognize that there are some basic services that are needed, and that people should have certain rights unimpeded by the government, including the tried and true “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”. That last part should include the right to love who you choose. Now that doesn’t mean humans should love their pet cow or something like that, but hey, if you’re into that stuff…more power to you.
I think the Weavers had the right idea here, though they didn’t flat out say it was okay (it was implied, in my opinions):
“Just let ‘em be whatever they are. As long as they can hit or pitch, come on in,” Jeff Weaver said.
His brother Jered echoed the sentiment that it shouldn’t matter as long as they can play:
“If you’re hitting .300 with 40 and 140, bring ‘em on, you know?”
“I think it would just be a shock at first, but it’s still your teammate in the long run.”
“They worked just as hard as us to get up to where we’re at.”
Jered probably came closest to saying that it didn’t matter if the teammate was gay, even if they sucked at baseball. I highly doubt most gay men would just randomly come up to you and preposition you for sex in the shower or on the street, anyway.
While I haven’t had the luxury of knowing many baseball players, I have gone to school and hung out with many gay people (this happens when you go to any college, especially UC Berkeley). Aside from the fact that they like men and I like women, I’ve observed nothing really different about gay people versus straight people. Many of my fellow PhD friends are gay, and they are some of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I’ve ever met. For the most part, they’re just like you and me…they just want to get the job done and go back home to sit back, crack open a beer and watch some TV. The only difference is that while I’m doing this with my wife and son, they’re doing it with their male partner (or female as the case may be). A lifestyle choice doesn’t make them any less human than the rest of us.
That is why I think the Weavers did great, and I hope more baseball players are like them in eventually welcoming an openly gay teammate. It won’t happen overnight…I mean, it took baseball THIS long to think about using instant replay review…but it will happen and it will be for the better. It will probably take a superstar type of player to come out and pave the way for everyone else after him, because people are a lot more tolerant when the guy can actually do some damage with the baseball. It’s just the way it is.
I’d like to close by saying that I’m proud to be a fan of two clubs that are prominently featured in the “It Gets Better” project.
My hometown team, the San Francisco Giants:
…and of course, your Chicago Cubs (yeah, it’s from when a bunch of guys no longer with the team did it, but the message is still important):