When I was growing up in an African-American family in Fort Worth, Texas in the 1970s and 80s, the worst things you could do to dishonor your family were to go to jail, get on welfare, vote Republican or be a "punk." In our vernacular, a punk was a gay boy or man. Another no-no, was to not be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
So, being a lifelong Cowboys fan you can only imagine the swirl of emotions I felt this week when Michael Irvin, one of the all-time greatest Cowboys, appeared on the cover of Out Magazine and in the accompanying article announced his late brother was gay and that he supports gay rights/marriage. At least The Playmaker (as Irvin is known) didn't come out as a Republican.
Anyway, in spite of his many mistakes off the football field I've always admired Irvin for his exploits on it. I admire him even more now for honoring his brother by speaking up about equal rights for gay and lesbian people. Here are some excerpts from the Outed Magazine article written by Cyd Zeigler:
Irvin wants to eradicate homophobia in every corner of American society. He points to churches that have skewed the word of God to persecute those who don’t share their dogma; he shakes his head at the black culture he says has gone adrift in a sea of homophobia; and he said it’s time to end the second class–citizen status of gays in the eyes of the law.It would've been easy for Irvin to hypocritically remain silent on this topic, which in a sense would've been denying the love he has for his brother while continuing his hyper-heterosexual lifestyle. But to Irvin's credit, he stepped up...with caution to the wind.
“I don’t see how any African-American with any inkling of history can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”
"If anyone comes out in those top four major sports, I will absolutely support him,” says Irvin. “I think growth comes when we share. Until we do that, we’re going to be stuck in the Dark Ages about a lot of things.”
While Irvin attempts to help a large segment of Americans achieve equal rights, presidential hopeful, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), believes gay people and government handouts are evil and is in many ways striving keep America in the Dark Ages that Irvin referred to.
And while I respect Bachmann's dedication to her religious beliefs, and in fact as a conservative Christian share many of them, I wholeheartedly believe Bachmann is dead wrong with her public policy crusades and positions against gay and lesbian people. She's also the worst kind of wrong (hypocritical) when it comes to her stance on accepting government support. She's twice the hypocrite in this regard because she reportedly accepted government funding to help run her husband's mental health clinic.
Taken from a report by Michael Isikoff of NBC News:
While Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the "welfare rolls," the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News.However, the clinic was "outed" as a site where gays can go to be cured. Talk about Dark Ages thinking and wasted government funding.
The clinic, based in Lake Elmo, Minn., describes itself on its website as offering "quality Christian counseling" for a large number of mental health problems ranging from "anger management" to addictions and eating disorders.
If Irvin -- who is on the Mount Rushmore of machismo, badass sports stars -- can come out in support of gay rights and honor his gay brother in an insightful and respectful way, a devout Christian like Bachmann should be able to see the light of tolerance and practice what she preaches in terms of treating others the way she'd like to be treated and in supporting equal rights for all.
Maybe Bachmann doesn't really believe all of the anti-gay rhetoric she espouses and only spews it to please the wingnuts. I seriously doubt, however, that we'll see Bachmann on the cover of Outed Magazine anytime soon.