I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, at least since February, when professional women’s basketball star Candace Wiggins, who retired from the WNBA last year after eight seasons in the league, told reporters that she was bullied and harassed during her career because she was not gay.
“Me being heterosexual and straight and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they [the other players] could apply.” She says it drove her out of the league and the game. The WNBA denied her allegations, and the story wasn’t around very long. Gays don’t bully, they ARE bullied! Then, this week, ThinkProgress reported that a former University of Southern California point guard, Camille LeNoir, alleged she was denied an assistant coaching job in the New Mexico State University athletic department because she had the “wrong” sexual orientation. She claims that she had a firm job offer when the school thought she was a lesbian, but when she announced that she no longer regarded herself as gay, the offer was rescinded. This week, a federal judge in California decided to allow her discrimination case to advance.
I don’t know whether the perceptions of either Wiggins or LeNoir are accurate, but I don’t doubt that the kind of bullying and prejudice they describe goes on. There have been similar accounts in other women’s sports, like tennis and golf. Yes, it appears that unlike the male side (with the exception of men’s figure skating), gay women dominate many if not all women’s sports. I will eschew writing something arch like, “Who would have suspected?” in favor of the more direct, “This should come as no surprise, but saying so will offend feminists, female athletes and lesbians anyway.”
One would think that when a historically oppressed and discriminated-against group gains power or perceives that it has power, it would behave toward others as it wishes it had been treated during all those years of being marginalized. Alas, the opposite is usually the case, and most of the time. In one of my worlds, professional theater, gay men dominate, and there are theaters that have the reputation of actively discriminating against straight actors. Hollywood, of course has become a workplace where being revealed as a conservative is to face virtual blacklisting. Give a minority power, and as often as not, what emerges are bullies and bigots. Continue reading