Thursday, February 08, 2007

East of San Francisco

Former Utah Jazz Center John Amaechi wrote a biography about the great time he had as a closeted gay black man in Salt Lake City. How had how delusional people in Utah (and the NBA) are about all the homosexuals in the midst:
It's hard to overestimate the stranglehold of the Latter Day Saints on the state of Utah. With the majority of the residents, the church had major say in everything from the composition of the legislature to what was considered appropriate attire. Which is why I was astonished that the city is the hippest, gayest place east of San Francisco. (Okay, so there's not a lot in between.)
Frankly, the Jazz fan base isn't all that different from that of Coffee Garden. You can't throw a basketball into a crowd without hitting a gay man or a lesbian. Dozens of season ticket holders who sat directly behind the bench were same-sex couples. I knew they were gay because they'd show up at some of my parties. (One of my guests even turned out to work for Senator Orrin Hatch.)
. . . Yet the Mormon majority seems blithely unaware of this flamboyant minority in its midst. They see same-sex couples walking down the street hand-in-hand. They drive by parts of town where every other Victorian house is festooned with rainbow flags. They see joyfully gay men pouring in and out of bars and clubs.
And at the same time, they don't see it. They're oblivious.

The Salt Lake Tribune, got an advance copy of his book that will be released next week, "Man in the Middle," and provided juicy excerpts.
"Homosexuality is an obsession among ballplayers, trailing only wealth and women," he wrote. "They just didn't like [gays]- or so they insisted over and over and over again. It soon became clear they didn't understand [gays] enough to truly loathe them."

Similarly, a local sports columnist took it upon himself it to point out that that Armaechi was not a good basketball player, as if that was relevant:
John Amaechi remains one of the worst players in franchise history.
I'm not Amaechi-bashing here.
I'm just stating a fact.

On a related note, Jazz owner and homophobic businessman Larry L. Miller (who payed Amachi's salary) regrets blocking 'Brokeback Mountain' from his theaters.
Miller said he probably would allow "Brokeback Mountain" to be shown if the movie was released now, calling his ban a bad decision.
"Not because I got beaten up over it, but because it was a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "You have to choose your spots to draw your lines and I didn't choose a very good one."
"It was good for me in a couple of ways," he said. "I learned a lot about them with some open and honest dialogue. It didn't change my way of thinking or theirs, but we all realized after talking with each other we have a better understanding of each other.
"I'm still outspoken on issues, but I know I have to look at people's feelings and lives. I'd like to say I'm more understanding now. To say I'm tolerant would be less
accurate, but I am more understanding."

Folks, you tolerate bad tasting food, you understand why Germans voted for Hitler in 1933. Of course understanding and tolerating are not the same as condoning or liking or supporting.

Nonetheless, he is trying.

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