Thursday, October 31

Eser-o-rama! - Coming out is still cool. The media can't get enough of it. Now that Real Sports has aired, everyone is clamoring for coverage of Esera Tuaolo, the gay ex-NFL "gladiator." You've got Good Morning America, Connie Chung and the New York Times, let alone all the usual suspects among our vast sports media industry. A remarkably well-spoken Tuaolo gives the account in his own words to ESPN Magazine. College sports outlets also weighed in. Then there's the gay press, whose ecstatic reaction has included full coverage from (cha-ching, guys -- when are you closing on the venture capital?) and a rumored upcoming cover story in The Advocate.

As you might expect, much of the coverage has focused on the metaphysical debate over whether the traditional team sports (NFL, baseball, etc.) are "ready" for an openly gay male athlete. Dave Kopay, the go-to guy for comments on gay football, provided his viewpoint to ESPN, which also had its own look at whether the NFL is better or worse than it was in Kopay's day. This is a good question. If it is true that things have gotten worse in the locker rooms, I think it's related to the growing tolerance afforded in society generally. As everyone else becomes more comfortable with homosexuality, it puts more pressure on those few who have real hang-ups. Fundamentalist Christians and men involved in high testosterone occupations seem to feel especially threatened.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when Kopay played, I doubt many straight players felt compelled to think about the issue too much. There was no P.C. police to pounce upon an Allen Iverson or John Rocker when they made fag jokes. And of course those were the groovy ambisexual seventies ("yeahh, baby!"), when you did whatever felt good and didn't worry too much about whether you were The Gay by birth. Nowadays everyone knows that gays are (1) born that way and (2) everywhere. So you have to be nice to us -- under penalty of law. You have to feel a bit sorry for the poor insecure macho man. It must be terrible with all that cognitivie dissonance ringing around in their heads.

Also, for Ben, here's the L.A. angle to the whole made-for-TV story. Care to investigate the backstory on Joe Somodi?