How far have the Catholic church, NBA and military come in the journey toward equality?
In a move that's on par with the overturning of DOMA last year, the Boy Scouts of America have decided that, perhaps, being gay isn't so vile after all. Since the organization's inception 103 years ago, they have had a very strict policy on not allowing both gay scouts and gay leaders into their community. Although their archaic rule will stay intact for leaders, on January 15th, 17-year-old Pascal Tessier will become the first openly gay Eagle Scout. It's about time.
Of course the decision to change the policy is heated in debate, and so much so that within days of the news to allow Tessier and future "out" scouts to be part of the organization, a group completely opposed to such acceptance popped up to save the day. On January 1st of this year, Trail Life USA, whose motto is "that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God," from Colossians 1:10, launched itself as an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America. Their vision, according to their website, is to mold young men into "godly and responsible husbands, fathers and citizens." They seem to have left out the part about making them homophobic, as well.
This recent progress on the part of the Boy Scouts of America proves that notoriously homophobic institutions, try as they may to move forward with the handful of open-minded individuals on their boards, never seem to get very far. It's the whole concept of one step forward, but two steps back. How are other organizations, like the church, military and professional men's sports leagues progressing — if at all? We break it down below.
The Catholic Church:
The Catholic church has also made steps at gay acceptance thanks to Pope Francis, only for the Vatican to virtually dismiss it. Recently Pope Francis, who this past summer said it wasn't his place to judge if someone was gay, asked that the Catholic church reconsider how they view children of gay parents.
The Pope pointed out that we are living in a world where gay parents are becoming more and more common, and that, even though it's "sometimes difficult to understand," the church shouldn't administer a "vaccine against faith." But practically before he could even finish his thoughts on the topic, the Vatican wanted to "clarify" that Pope Francis' comments in no way prove that he supports gay marriage. We'll just see about that over the next couple years, dear Vatican.
Professional Men's Sports Teams
In July, Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards, became the first openly gay athlete on a professional American sports team. Not only have professional men's sports leagues long been synonymous with homophobia, but their emphasis on machismo and "be a man" preaching has made being gay within the confines of that world nearly impossible.
As LGBT groups praised Collins' honesty and openness, as he's sure to be an inspiration to his gay peers and younger generations of gay athletes, Chris Kluwe formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, is quite confident that his firing had everything to do with his very outspoken support of gay marriage. As Kluwe detailed in a piece for Deadspin and was summarized by Slate:
It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, [head coach] Leslie Frazier and [general manager] Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with [special teams coach] Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter.
Kluwe went on to further state that he doesn't consider the NFL to be homophobic as a whole, but that there are those within the institution, as with anywhere in the world, who are blatantly against gays and gay rights. However, if that is the case, where were these advocates for Kluwe? Why did no one stand up and point out that maybe the man is entitled to his beliefs and it should not affect his job? Nowhere to be found, because why rock the boat? Why put your own career at jeopardy?
We live in a society where boys are taught to "be a man," and "not throw like a girl," and if you don't abide by these teachings, you're labeled a "sissy." Real men don't want to be sissies. Real men don't lay with other men. Real men get up every morning, pound their chests in joy over being a man and go off to do manly things. If someone tries to shake that, fear sets in and that fear leads to hate in those who don't know any better and those who don't want to know any better. Keep Reading ...
The United States Military
The United States Military, although having allowed gays to serve since 1994 under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell act, only just updated their policy in 2011. In the repeal of DADT, gay and lesbian soldiers who had been fired because of the rampant homophobia in the military were allowed to re-enlist, and those who were already out in other areas of their life were allowed to finally be themselves at work. Two-hundred-thirty-six years of bigotry within the United States Armed Forces down the drain — what took them so long?
It's true that progress is being made, on all fronts, to treat gays as equals, but as illustrated above, it's a struggle that sees just as many high points as low points, especially in institutions where men reign supreme. Call it an Old Boys Club, or just straight up ignorance, but the fact remains that we're not nearly as close to overall equality as we should be. Yes, there will always be those who hate without reason, but with education we can fight against the ignorance that plagues so many groups, and bring them to our side of history. It's with people like Jason Collins, who take a stand in a male-dominated world, that we can fight the good fight, and ensure equality for all.
It seems rather condescending to call someone "brave" for just being who they are, but sadly, it's the truth. Bravery, education and love are what's going to win this battle. That, and advocates for what's right yelling at the top of their lungs who won't be silenced in the face of ignorance and hate.
Chris Kluwe may have been fired because of his gay rights advocacy, but at least his support was heard loud and clear, and that's what matters most when trying to win a war.