After watching the new movie “42” about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball with the encouragement and wisdom of the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, I couldn’t help but relate it to Major League Baseball today.
Who of our current general managers has the courage to sign or encourage the first openly gay baseball player? And who of our current players, or one who is coming up, who are gay would have the courage of Jackie Robinson? And are baseball fans ready for an openly gay player?
I found myself feeling quite uncomfortable while watching the movie as the fans were yelling “nigger, nigger, nigger” and “You don’t belong here” and many of the other things that were common place in our country in the 1940s. Sadly, they are still common place, but I digress.
I am not naïve enough to believe that there would not be fans yelling “faggot, faggot, faggot” and “You don’t belong here” and numerous other anti-gay slurs at the players on the field. And what sort of mayhem would happen in that private little boys club known as the locker room? Would there be anyone with any sort of conscience there to support and encourage and not denigrate and discriminate?
And I have to wonder: Are we as fans prepared to sit quietly and let the “faggot, faggot, faggot” verbal abuse happen without getting in the face of the ignorant? Are we prepared to fight every single slur that is thrown? This is not the baseball of the 1940s. This is baseball with beer and tailgating and people being thrown out of games for things as little as missing a foul ball that came their way. Can you imagine what beer-infused arguments there would be over gays on the field? Are we as fans prepared to sit quietly and do our non-violent support of our boys on the field? Or do we stand and fight every person who can’t resist verbalizing a slur of some sort?
Is there a gay man brave enough to break the barrier? And is there a general manager brave and courageous enough to break the barrier, and then have the courage of his convictions to support and defend his gay player? And are we as fans brave and courageous enough and do we have the strength of our convictions to stand behind our gay brothers on the field? And if you say yes to that, do you have the quiet courage to do it without any sort of violence?
It’s not as simple as telling our baseball brothers to “come out.” It’s so much more than that. Are you ready for the fight?
Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.