Batter Up! The Hypocrisy of Bigotry Victims Discriminating

If there is something dumber than gay-only softball leagues, I don't want to know what it is.

This is a story rife with such mind-melding stupidity and hypocrisy that I really don’t want to recount it in all its nauseating detail. To be brief, there is an organization called The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, and it oversees gay softball leagues in dozens of U.S. cities.It also runs an annual tournament called the Gay Softball World Series. Now it is in court, as three men filed a lawsuit complaining that their team’s second-place finish in the 2008 Series  was unfairly nullified because they are bisexual, not gay, and thus caused their team to exceed the limit of two non-gay players.

Fascinating. And why, oh why, are there athletic teams in the United States of America that restrict their roster according to who the athletes have sex with? Why are not all self-respecting, intelligent, ethical gay Americans telling these organizations that they are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the very values gay rights advocates are fighting for in more substantive realms, like marriage, the priesthood, and corporate America?

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled this week that the NAGAAA has a First Amendment right to limit the number of heterosexual players, much as the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to exclude gays. That certainly seems…hey, wait a minute. Don’t gay rights advocate detest the Boy Scouts of America for just this reason? So why is a gay organization behaving like the Boy Scouts?

I’m looking over the impassioned arguments in favor of gay marriage, manifestos about equality, and the stigma of “separate by equal” and tearing down barriers. Now, thanks to discovering gay softball leagues, I know these same anti-discrimination advocates actually aren’t against discrimination, only discrimination where they aren’t calling the shots.

The very existence of softball teams that reject players based on who they lust after—or is it just who they fuck?—is so extraordinarily offensive on so many levels. It is, of course, discriminatory, and therefore bigoted and biased. It is hypocritical, unless the organizers have no problem with heterosexuals making gays second class citizens. It shows a stunning lack of integrity, and it is utterly stupid.  I know that the gay community is no more monolithic than other groups, but I am only half facetious when I say that I sometimes wish that any minority group permitting and encouraging organizations, competitions, and honors that they would attack as un-American and wrong if they were the ones being excluded, rather than doing the excluding, should be statutorily prevented from complaining about any discrimination against their own members until they live by the principles they are demanding be applied to them. We don’t tolerate award shows for white actors only, and it is long past the time when we should tolerate awards restricted to  black entertainers….yet there they are, on television every year. There are black athlete awards and Hispanic entertainer awards too, and all of them are offensive in their hypocrisy and shamelessness.  They give white bigots an opportunity to say, “See? They’re no different than we are! They just can get away with it.”  And to be truthful, it is hard to argue with them.

But the stupidity and hypocrisy of the gay softball leagues are way beyond the silly awards based on skin color. Here is a selection from an article about the lawsuit. What kind of person could read this without collapsing in sorrowful laughter, or being embarrassed for the mentally and ethically-deficient state of mind it represents? Try it:

“The San Francisco-based team the men played on, D2, was disqualified after others at the tournament questioned their sexuality and filed a protest. Under questioning, the men, Stephen Apilado, Laron Charles and John Russ, were evasive or declined to discuss their sexuality, according to the organization. For example, minutes of the hearing say that Charles claimed to be gay but acknowledged being married to a woman, and Apilado initially said he was both gay and straight but then acknowledged being more attracted to women. The minutes say rumors had persisted for years about whether D2 was stacking its team with straight ringers. In addition to the three plaintiffs, the team had two designated straight players. The organization says it has always considered bisexuals to meet the definition of “gay” for roster purposes, but the minutes also note that one official involved in the decision to disqualify D2 commented that “this is not a bisexual world series. This is a gay world series.”

Oh, shut up.

It’s softball, and this is the United States of America, where citizens should be able to marry who they love, be hired according to their skills, judged by the content of their character, and play any damn game they want anywhere they want, as long as they are good enough to play it. If heterosexuals-only teams are intolerable, and they are, then gay-only teams are equally intolerable.

Equality, mutual respect and fairness. Those who won’t practice it have a lot of nerve demanding it.

15 thoughts on “Batter Up! The Hypocrisy of Bigotry Victims Discriminating

  1. Jack, I hate to seem old-fashioned, or prudish, or just plain squeamish, but the photo, together with a rather gratuitous use of an F-bomb in the story…I dunno….

    • Karl, The photo is from a promo for gay softball. This was one of the more tasteful. Outrageous stories need outrageous graphics. I chickened out, actually—you should see my first choice.

      I’m of two minds about the “f-bomb.” In this setting, about this topic, the lack of a single non-vulgar word, no ambiguous action verb to make it clear exactly what the issue is here annoys me. Reducing it to clinical terms, to my ear, lessens the absurdity of the offense. But I won’t do this often. I promise. Point accepted.

  2. Jack, as both a Hispanic and a bisexual, I think this is absurd, and I think it comes down to minorities (ethnic, sexual, WHATEVER) teaching their members to feel entitled in this regard. My Spanish/Mexican grandfather taught me the opposite from a young age, that if you expect to be a member of society, you should integrate yourself into society rather than set yourself apart. While he is not without his own bigotries (He is somewhat of a racist and would be horrified to learn of my orientation), I think the policy is sound.

  3. Jack,
    Unlike Karl, I applaud your rather tasteful use of “fuck” in the above post as only an expletive can sometimes capture the idiocy of a situation more than more “proper” language can. Also, the photo made me laugh.

    That said, hypocrisy aside, I’m not sure exactly what’s so untenable or wrong about there being a gay-only softball league? Since when are we ethically bound to associate with everyone or to make everything we do as “all-inclusive” as possible? Whatever arguments might be made against discrimination in restaurants, movie theaters, and doctors offices, this is SOFTBALL and no one has ever died or been seriously emotionally wounded by being excluded from a game. I agree there’s no moral difference between a minority discriminating against the majority than there is the other way around, but isn’t that just an argument for allowing more “whites only” or “straights only” or “whatever only” organizations to form without the obligatory charges of bigotry?

    It’s not bigoted for people to want to associate with others who share a common heritage, social background, or sexual orientation any more than it isn’t bigoted for any group of like-minded individuals to want to spend time around one another. Taking your arguments a step further, one could argue ALL baseball leagues (at least those that hold tryouts) are discriminatory against those of us who aren’t any good. Why is it okay to discriminate against performance but not against race, sexual orientation, or religion? (And don’t say it’s because you can’t choose race or sexual orientation because neither can I simply CHOOSE to be good at baseball .. because, even with practice, some people will still never quite measure up)

    Speaking of which, isn’t the Special Olympics discriminatory against those of us WITHOUT serious disabilities? Or am I missing something?

    -Neil

    • A softball league organized by gays (or irishmen or whites) is not bigotted. Limitting entry from other groups is bigotted.

      Taking your arguments a step further, one could argue ALL baseball leagues (at least those that hold tryouts) are discriminatory against those of us who aren’t any good. Why is it okay to discriminate against performance but not against race, sexual orientation, or religion?

      Because those latter have no bearing on whether or not you can actually play baseball, which is the point of a competitive team. This was discussed pretty thoroughly in a previous thread about a high school baseball player.

      Speaking of which, isn’t the Special Olympics discriminatory against those of us WITHOUT serious disabilities? Or am I missing something?

      You’re missing something. There’s a reason there are female soccer leagues and male soccer leagues. Similarly, there are maximum skill leagues for golf, horseback riding, softball, and any other sport you can imagine. Not bigotted.

  4. I actually thought the pic was spot on for the story, but I also thought it was from the 50s or something, so the photog’s intent was probably a ‘home run’ with me as the audience. And a well-placed vulgarity, as you use here, Jack, is also right on the money.

  5. Its funny… I sing in a gay men’s chorus; we handle music that’s beautiful and “traditional” as well as music that can be emotionally challenging, music about the coming out process or what it means/feels like to be a gay man in society… we’ll sing anything, really, and our primary mission as a chorus is promoting understanding and awareness through music.

    That said, we have straight male singers… we have about 180 men on stage performing, and a handful of them are straight or bi. Ask any of us what we feel about that and the first response you’ll hear is “What, you think *we* are gonna discriminate?”… Yes, we’re the only all-male vocal group in the region; however, sing on our stage and or march with us in a parade and you make a public, declarative statement about tolerance and understanding. Isnt that good enough? We are allowed to have gay men perform, and we are also allowed to have bi- or simply allied men perform with us. True, we’re a musical group instead of one built on sport or athletic prowess, but c’mon… who cares if a man is straight when he’s performing in a gay chorus or sports league? Is he a shill? Did you have to find a straight man to swing a bat because you ran into a sudden shortage of burly sporty muscle queens, or is it simply that a man likes to play softball with his friends (whether he’s interested in sleeping with them or not)?

    I can understand the idea of creating safe and allied space; after all, I sing with a huge group in a gay men’s chorus that constantly advocates and creates safe and understanding space for free expression. Our chorus, understandably, is not about to begin performances that either degrade LGBTQ people or begin to promote a heterosexual identity as inherently better than a LGBTQ one, but at the same time we are willing to embrace men (no pun intended, I swear) who are willing to perform with us and alongside us as friends and allies without any moment’s hesitation regarding whether or not those men are sexually involved with members of their own sex. Its not important in the least.

  6. The rule is weird; the fact that it got to COURT is weirder. When your league ends up in court over a few players rules exclusion, your organization has larger problems. And why you’d call into question people’s actual sexuality based only on who they’re sleeping with at the moment, considering the colorful history of so many we all know, especially in a community that *should* be as welcoming and understanding as Matt describes above, means you’re not really playing a game. You’re making a microcosm political scene out of a softball game. And you’re doing it badly.

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