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The importance of Ernie Banks

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2010

Sports Illustrated writer, Jeff Pearlman, writes about the message that the Chicago Cubs are making by sending their most iconic symbol to Chicago Gay Pride.

The team could have enlisted any former player without a peep of complaint from the community. Here’s Dwight Smith waving to the crowd! Or Ray Burris! Or Mike Maksudian! It could have just sent the float along with Biff, the 19-year-old eager-to-please PR intern. Hell, the Cubs could probably get by merely contributing the float and a box of donuts. But by putting forth Banks, an iconic Hall of Famer and one of the classiest men to ever grace the diamond, the Cubs have made a bold and powerful statement that, even in the oft-closed-minded world of professional team sports, homophobia no longer has a place.

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GreenEyedLilo
June 25th, 2010 | LINK

That is really impressive! I don’t know baseball, so didn’t know the significance of this. I’m really glad.

I shared this elsewhere today, but the Gay Hockey Association in Chicago also persuaded the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Chicago Blackhawks (who won the Stanley Cup this year) to have the Cup at the parade. Brent Sopel, one of the players, will be marching with it. He’s tweeted a lot about it, as you can see here.

I’m really happy about all this. It’s good for sports and good for LGBT people, particularly men. It’s good for our communities that “mainstream” icons want to be part of our parades. I’m sure Illinois anti-gay wacktivists like Laurie Higgins and Peter LaBarbara will be saying something shortly, and it will be both disgusting and amusing. But if professional athletes are marching, a corner’s been turned, I think.

Regan DuCasse
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

I remember a controversy brewing in San Diego because a firefighting battalion was required to appear in the HillCrest area Pride parade, even against the objections of doing so from some of it’s members.
Fair enough.
I think it should have been a completely voluntary decision to participate. The requirement further exacerbated hostility and the stereotype that gay people force someone to accept them against their will.

The significance of a major sports figure doing something like this, IS a big step. We find out sometimes that famous people have gay family members, or perhaps a team member came out to them and they remained good friends.

The anti gay take these instances for granted. That it’s impossible for someone to have a gay person close to them that they care about and WANT TO support without being coerced to.

This is the difference between courage and cowardice. Sometimes it’s nuanced, sometimes it’s not.
But courage is something the anti gay are severely lacking and that I think, is what they hate the most.

And whether it’s soldiers, sports figures, peace officers or anyone from an exceptional discipline who we EXPECT to have another level of courage, a player like this exemplifies it even moreso.

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