Friday, May 24, 2002
Gays ball. Shut up your dirty mind. Yes, but that's not what I meant. I meant this flurry of gay-related baseball stories (here and here (yow! Someone lost his job? I think this one will have to be come back to) and here), including those on Mike Piazza's "I'm not gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that" statement. (SI headline: "Piazza sets record straight about sexual orientation." I'm sure no pun was intended. Check out the pouty picture choice.)

I wish I could say that I knew that Mike Piazza's not gay the same way that Kevin Spacey's not gay. ("Queer Duck, is there anyone you don't think is gay?" "Kevin Spacey says he's straight, and I believe him." See Queer Duck, Episode 10.) But what do I know? I don't have privileged knowledge about celebrity gaydom.

There's been discussion of which MLB player might be gay ever since Brendon Lemon's comments about dating one in Out last summer. (You'd think they'd have a web site, but I can't find it if they do. http://www.out.com doesn't seem to be it.) My recollection of discussions I've been in on the matter is that Piazza's name never came up. Others did, with some folks reporting to have seen MLB players frequent gay bars in particular cities.

Rather than speculating about who's gay and who's not, maybe it's better to put more energy into making it possible for a professional athlete to have as easy of a time with coming out as possible. And that, to me at least, means embracing a model of diversity that's not exactly what quite a few self-styled proponents of diversity, including some who would out celebrities, have in mind. It means accepting gay jocks without trying to pigeonhole them into widely-accepted (but frequently inaccurate) gay stereotypes, while at the same time not buying into fairly common dehumanization of folks who fit a stereotype pretty closely.

I grew up in a rural area, so I understand that some straight guys are uptight about there being gay guys in a locker room in the same way that some straight guys are uptight about three across the bench seat of a pickup truck with one (or two) of 'em being gay. My experience has been that given a chance and some motivation, people can get over it. So, sure, someday there'll be out gay ballplayers. Sooner is probably better.