It’s one thing to be tolerant of what once were known as “alternative lifestyles.” It’s another thing to be asked to celebrate them, as the exuberant mythologizers of Michael Sam and Johnny Weir ask us to do. And it is way beyond the pale to hold forth on any sort of sex life — perhaps apart from self-restraint — as if it’s a form of heroism.
Yet the culture of the professional Left, enthusiastically aided by the establishment media, is going bonkers in pushing active homosexuality (or any one of several exotic variants thereof) as an absolute virtue. One can hardly turn around these days without facing, in fiction or in real life, what amounts to homosexual chic. From the amount of primetime air time afforded to gay Americans, one would think they constitute at least a large minority of the population, rather than the 3 to 5 percent they actually do.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” as Seinfeld wisdom had it. Most Americans assuredly don’t much care what other people do as long, as the saying goes, as they “don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” And if the Bible tells us it’s a sin, well, we can leave that issue between the putative sinner and a God famous for both judgment and mercy. Our job, speaking spiritually rather than physically, is to love our neighbor, not from some misguided impulse to charity but instead genuinely, as equals — and to worry about not committing our own particular brands of transgression.
Still. Enough already with the in-our-faceness from the homosexual activists and their aggressively enthusiastic cheerleaders. It’s not enough, apparently, that they appropriated the perfectly wonderful word “gay” so that its original meaning is lost to the ages. It’s not enough that what many once considered wrong or unmentionable is now largely accepted and broadly discussed in polite society. It’s not enough that people now provide homosexuals the privacy that should respectfully be afforded every law-abiding adult. Instead, homosexuality has become a cause célèbre, and those whose faith calls for forbearance from material, ardent support of its practice are themselves bullied and have become the target of discrimination.
So we see football player Michael Sam’s furthering the cause at the NFL combine by wearing a gay-pride button that read “Stand with Sam.” And we see that as a result of his coming-out, he reaps financial benefits in clear excess of what his expected draft status would warrant. Despite being projected as merely a fourth- or fifth-round pick, Sam topped sportscasts nationwide last weekend while projected first-round picks were entirely ignored.
If Sam, whose demeanor and public statements in the past month have been nearly exemplary, will continue to let his football skill speak for itself, for good or ill, then more power to him. But the real test of his character will be how he reacts if he is drafted in a lower round than he wants (or goes undrafted at all), or if he doesn’t make the final cut for the pro-football season. Would he blame it all on discrimination against his homosexuality (as if NFL teams would actually deny themselves the services of a player who could help them on the field)? Or, worse yet, would he decide to press a civil-rights lawsuit?
One hopes he proves that he belongs in the league — or, if he doesn’t, that he doesn’t make a spectacle of his failure no matter how many leftists might scream for Eric Holder’s minions to file a grievance against the NFL. In today’s gay-friendly environment, Michael Sam is portrayed as a hero for announcing his sexual orientation, but he will be a true hero only if he continues to go about his business, come what may, with understated dignity and old-fashioned professionalism.
Alas, that’s not what we have seen from the garish spectacle of figure-skating announcer Johnny Weir. His antics are appalling. The problem is not that he’s homosexual; it’s that he advertises his sexuality to the extent that it makes him (his choice of makeup, jewelry, and extravagant dresses or furs) more of a story than the athletes he is supposed to cover.
For comparison, imagine if sportscaster Erin Andrews reported from the basketball or football sidelines in a bikini. She would rightly be criticized from coast to coast for a lack of professionalism and for playing into sexual stereotypes to the detriment of the games she was covering. (Of course, Andrews does nothing of the sort, instead dressing appropriately and reporting and asking questions with skill and aplomb.) Yet Weir draws fawning media coverage for his sequins and earrings, even though his attention-grabbing behavior would be seen as unprofessional in other arenas of sports coverage, and as validating the worst stereotypes about gay men.
Frankly, male figure skaters should be mighty irked with Weir for validating the image of their sport as one populated by effeminate men. And gay men should be equally annoyed that Weir furthers the stereotype that male homosexuals are flamingly feminine.
Michael Sam and Johnny Weir are not the only homosexuals to benefit from the media’s adoring coverage. The latest flash point in the gay-rights legal wars involves refusals by photographers and cake makers to provide their services for same-sex marriages. Can anyone doubt that the Left would rush to the defense of a Muslim photographer who refused to take pictures at a Jewish wedding, or a Muslim caterer who refused to serve pork? But let the person claiming victimhood be homosexual, and religious freedom is suddenly disposable.
Millions of LGBT citizens doubtless are content to go about their lives with modesty and in private — not “closeted,” mind you, merely in privacy, as most things sexual should be. But the activists and media chorus won’t let them. The Missouri defensive lineman, for example, may ask at the combine to be treated “as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player,” but the media will no doubt continue pegging him as the latter. If it weren’t for the fetishistic politicization of homosexuality, the underlying societal problem would be more obvious: At base, the problem isn’t homosexuality, but public sexuality. There was a time, a better time, when the sex lives of strangers were nobody’s business. It is a coarser society, and one where interpersonal respect is seriously diminished, when so many people broadcast who is having what sorts of intercourse with whom.
None of us needs to hear Jane Fonda talk about Ted Turner’s prowess in bed, as Fonda did in an interview a few years ago. No one needs to read Shirley Jones’s disclosures, detailed in her recent memoir, about threesomes with her former husband or about how much her current husband enjoys her, uh, upper assets. And if one more trampy poptart wants to sex up the stage and airwaves, following in the very-well-worn path of Madonna, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Miley Cyrus, she will be about the 20th pop star too many to do so. Likewise with the raunch of urban rappers and their imitators. Isn’t it all getting mind-numbingly predictable by now?
Whether homosexual or “straight,” on TV and Facebook and Twitter and in loud conversations at fast-food restaurants, it sometimes seems as if almost everybody these days is dangerously frightening the horses. It’s time to stop the stampede.
— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor of National Review.