ONTD Political

Is it Getting Better? Homophobia Rocks Super Bowl

2:33 pm - 02/01/2013
When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said he hoped this year’s Super Bowl would be a platform to discuss LGBT rights, I don't think this is exactly what he had in mind. First on media day, San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver was asked by Howard Stern acolyte and living symbol of American declinism Artie Lange if he’d ever accept a Gay teammate. Culliver said, “No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.” In rapid-response fashion, Culliver then issued the finest, most heartfelt apology a 49er public relations intern ever had to write.

Then two 49ers, Ahmad Brooks and Isaac Sopoaga, denied ever appearing in the team’s much praised anti-LGBT bullying “It Gets Better” Public Service Announcement, despite video evidence to the contrary. Sopoaga said, "I never went, And now someone is using my name." This pushed “It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage to actually remove the video from their website. After tweeting that the 49er PSA was being taken down, Savage used three hashtags: #homophobia #NFL #horseshit.

As if this weren't enough vitriol for one week, on Sunday the league will be holding their 24th annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, and for reasons they have refused to comment upon, it is stacked with an all-star cast of anti-gay bloviators. We are talking about religious singers and preachers who have said things that would make Rick Santorum blush.

This is the point where I’m sure people might ask why any of this matters. Well, it matters for a multitude of reasons. First, whether we like it or not, athletes are role models. Complaining about this fact of American life is like complaining that the sky is blue or John Boehner is orange. Therefore it makes a difference if they are modeling inclusion and respect for our LGBT friends and family. As Hudson Taylor, founder of the organization Athlete Ally said in a statement, “Chris Culliver’s comments are disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him.”

It also matters because as long as there has been football, from its inception when Teddy Roosevelt would lash out at “sissies” who refused to play, it has been one of the ways manhood has been defined in the United States. Being a “real man” means playing through pain, harming others, and limping away when the game is done. To be gay means, as Culliver said in a modern incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt, you are bringing “that sweet stuff in the locker room.” When NFL players like Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe, and Scott Fujita speak out for gay rights, they are also implicitly speaking out against these rigid, crushing, social constructions that are long overdue to be thrown in the dustbin of history.

If the 49ers don’t want to do this for some abstract notion of “society” maybe they can think of their former teammate 30-year-old Kwame Harris. It was announced this week that Harris is in trouble with the law after allegedly assaulting his ex-boyfriend last year. For many of his teammates, it came as a shock that their friend and colleague was gay. Even though Harris is dealing with his own legal troubles, he still found time to bravely address Chris Culliver’s comments saying, “It’s surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people.”

The San Francisco 49ers might want to take a lesson from one of the players they’re opposing this Sunday on the Ravens. Perhaps it’s too much to ask them to emulate Ayanbadejo, a courageous activist for LGBT equality. But maybe they can take a baby step to being more like Terrell Suggs. When asked if he would object to having a gay teammate, Suggs said, “Absolutely not…whatever a person’s choice is, it’s their choice. On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality. To each their own. You know who you are, and we accept you for it.”

This week perhaps hasn’t gone as Ayanbadejo dreamed. But it’s also been very instructive. We’ve seen the truth about whether there is an LGBT-friendly culture in the NFL and the truth is that we have a ways to go. The truth is also that, whether the league or some of its players like it or not, it is in fact getting better. But if an active player is ever going to feel confident enough to come out of the closet, it's going to have to get one whole hell of a lot better than it is now.

hinoema 2nd-Feb-2013 08:33 am (UTC)
The Super Bowl is all about money, and these right-wing hate groups have fuck-tons of money. I'm not surprised. Just another reason why I avoid this kind of thing.
blackjedii 2nd-Feb-2013 01:10 pm (UTC)
it has been one of the ways manhood has been defined in the United States.


you are wearing tights while you play

you are grabbing each other's bums in order to take someone down

you are slapping each other's butts as you enter and leave the field

you see each other naked in the locker room

how is any of this manly exactly?

I mean

If you want manliness

play rugby
cinnamontoast 2nd-Feb-2013 01:42 pm (UTC)
If you want manliness play rugby

So much this. I don't understand how American football defines 'manliness' when they are allowed to stop for breath every two seconds and pad themselves against every possible injury.

Please. Rugby players eat their own dead for breakfast.
blackjedii 2nd-Feb-2013 02:11 pm (UTC)

Rugby players play on when their boyparts are injured
cinnamontoast 2nd-Feb-2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
I love that the cover of his biography is just him showing off his unstoppable ballsack.


This psychotic madman got up, walked off the pitch holding his balls back in place, stood on the sidelines, and waited patiently while the team doc stitched up his nutsack on international television. Without anesthesia.

Fuck that girly half-time. I want REAL MEN.
boobookittifukk 3rd-Feb-2013 07:25 am (UTC)
So not surprised. I'm Australian and New Zealand are our natural enemy in rugby, but I've always loved the All Blacks rugby team cos they are just absolutely bad arse.

American football players would be sent home crying if they had to face up against Rugby players.
peace_piper 2nd-Feb-2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
My brother was in the drama department in highschool, not because he was an actor, but he was into sewing and costume design. To this day, he designs his own dresses, makes and sells them. His favourite joke is "you think I'm queer? I'm backstage with a bunch of girls helping them get dressed, taking custom orders and measurements and you're in the locker room with a bunch of naked dudes? And you CHOSE to be there! Who's the queer one?"
blackjedii 3rd-Feb-2013 12:07 am (UTC)
tnganon 3rd-Feb-2013 01:10 am (UTC)
so how is being homophobic in return ~funny~
rainbow_fish 2nd-Feb-2013 02:47 pm (UTC)
"In rapid-response fashion, Culliver then issued the finest, most heartfelt apology a 49er public relations intern ever had to write."


"Complaining about this fact of American life is like complaining that the sky is blue or John Boehner is orange"


edited for html fail

Edited at 2013-02-02 02:48 pm (UTC)
tinylegacies 2nd-Feb-2013 03:13 pm (UTC)
damn you 49ers... it's against my religion as a Pittsburgher to root for the Ravens but now I feel like I have to.
emofordino 2nd-Feb-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
LOL, i'm a cleveland girl myself, which is why i also don't want to root for the ravens, since they stole the browns from us forever ago, and my brownies can't get their act together to make it to the super bowl, bahaha. but the 49ers are not giving anyone many reasons to root for them either! i think on super bowl sunday i will just have to be on team beyonce. ;)
primeling 3rd-Feb-2013 03:59 am (UTC)
tabaqui 2nd-Feb-2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
Just when you see a glimmer through the crowds, asshats like this bring all the darkness back. For fuck's sake.
silver_apples 2nd-Feb-2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
Go Ravens.

(I don't care about football, but as a Marylander I am required to root for the Ravens on pain of social ostracization. But now I actually want them to beat the 49ers.)
sihaya09 2nd-Feb-2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
The RavensMania in Baltimore right now is starting to get seriously embarrassing, so I feel you. I cannot WAIT for tomorrow to be over.
silver_apples 2nd-Feb-2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I'm at least outside the city and don't need to go out this weekend, so I'm spared the crowds and Ravens-themed displays. And after tomorrow, I can wear purple again! (I look good in Ravens purple, but I get sick of people commenting on my team spirit, so I avoid the color during football season and thus avoid football conversations.)
sihaya09 2nd-Feb-2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
My coat is plain red wool, and I had a lady sneeringly comment that I was being "disrespectful" to wear 49ers red in Ravens Territory.


People are just taking it WAY too seriously around here.
alexvdl 3rd-Feb-2013 05:14 am (UTC)
*laugh* Unless they win. Then you have to deal with it for another week.

I was living in Connecticut during the year that the Patriots went undefeated, and good lord coming into the shipyard every monday was unsufferable. Everyone had to be wearing a Patriots something. Then the Superbowl happened.

For some reason there wasn't a SINGLE PIECE of Patriots gear worn by anyone that Monday, and one electrician actually cried when he heard us discussing it among ourselves. Such an awesome day.
thecityofdis 2nd-Feb-2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
Complaining about this fact of American life is like complaining that the sky is blue or John Boehner is orange


fickery 2nd-Feb-2013 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think I'll be watching the Homophobia Bowl. But I hope the 49ers get CRUSHED.
peace_piper 2nd-Feb-2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
I hear animal planet has a PUPPY BOWL on at the same time, nothing but puppies and that's relevant to my interests *__*
emofordino 2nd-Feb-2013 09:54 pm (UTC)
that's what i'll be watching! i'll likely watch the super bowl halftime show, but otherwise puppies, kitties and groundhogs are where it's at!
peace_piper 2nd-Feb-2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
I'm also baking a pumpkin-cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping for the occasion.
zinnia_rose 3rd-Feb-2013 12:53 am (UTC)
Squeeeeee! I know what I'm doing tomorrow!
alexvdl 3rd-Feb-2013 05:15 am (UTC)
Also a Kitten halftime show, and hedgehog cheerleaders throughout. :)
louisiane_fille 2nd-Feb-2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
I love Chris Kluwe. I follow him on Twitter and he is hilarious when he's calling someone out on their bullshit. Just because of Culliver and his teammates' attitudes, I hope the Ravens beat the shit out of the 49ers.

Edited at 2013-02-02 05:27 pm (UTC)
tigerdreams 2nd-Feb-2013 06:27 pm (UTC)
I give no shits about football, but now at least I know who I want to win and who I want to lose this game.
keestone 2nd-Feb-2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
Ugh. Leave it to the 49ers to sound less inclusive than practically any other West Coast sports team. Matt Calkins did an informal survey of sports teams including the Chargers, Clippers, and Lakers (so not just NFL, but including NFL players) about how they'd react to an openly gay team member: "after talking to a slew of athletes this week, I’m convinced that he'd be almost universally accepted in the locker room. "

Some specific quotes:
''“I can only speak for myself, but personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Chargers tight end Dante Rosario said. '

“I actually think you’d be surprised how accepting guys would be,” said Lakers guard Steve Nash. "

'“In this locker room, as long as you show up early, work hard, you’re dialed into the game plan, and you play like a monster on Sundays, that’s all you can ask for,” Chargers offensive lineman Nick Hardwick said. “It’s only a matter of time before (someone from one of the four major sports comes out), and really – who cares?” '


eta: Ayanbadejo sounds like the kind of stand up guy anybody would be proud to have on their team.

Edited at 2013-02-02 06:40 pm (UTC)
beetlebums 3rd-Feb-2013 04:54 am (UTC)
It's always the conservative minority voice that over rides actual feelings and it's sad that the media runs with it
keestone 3rd-Feb-2013 12:55 pm (UTC)

The more I google it, the more it sounds like the majority of NFL players would be accepting and supportive of an out gay teammate, but there's still a perception that the atmosphere is totally homophobic in general.
brittlesmile 2nd-Feb-2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
As much as I'd have loved to see SF get the Super Bowl & World Series this season, I'm not really feeling any local pride for the 9ers anymore (also, idk how to explain it, but having them be the San Francisco team just makes it way worse for me. Maybe just because it hits so close to home, but I think also cause sometimes I like to trick myself into thinking that we're safe from this kind of BS out here.) Ugh. I think I'll go back to my old ways of ignoring the superbowl again.
zinnia_rose 3rd-Feb-2013 12:53 am (UTC)
Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man.

Why is it that homophobes always think they are SO IRRESISTIBLY ATTRACTIVE that people of the same gender will constantly hit on them?
noneko 3rd-Feb-2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Interesting that the 49ers are like that considering they are from San Francisco.
boobookittifukk 3rd-Feb-2013 07:27 am (UTC)
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