Gay Connecticut couple accused of raping adopted children will face trial
George Harasz, 49, and Douglas Wirth, 45, of Glastonbury, withdrew a deal with prosecutors that would have given them suspended prison sentences and probation, according to reports. The surprise move comes as new allegations by three more adopted children surfaced Friday.
By Erik Ortiz / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, April 7, 2013, 11:16 AM.
George Harasz (l.) and Douglas Wirth (r.), a married couple from Glastonbury, Conn., were arrested in November 2011 following allegations by two of their nine adopted children of sexual abuse.
The case of a same-sex Connecticut couple accused of repeatedly raping and abusing two of their nine adopted boys is headed for trial.
Married couple George Harasz and Douglas Wirth of Glastonbury were supposed to be sentenced Friday in Hartford Superior Court under a plea deal, but instead withdrew from their agreement with prosecutors. The men had already pleaded no contest in January to one felony count each of risk of injury to a minor — a reduction from even more serious charges related to sexual assault.
But in a surprise turn, the couple’s attorneys pulled them out of the plea in a bid to fully clear their names, according to CBS affiliate WFSB-TV.
If Harasz, 49, and Wirth, 45, had continued with the deal, they would have been given suspended prison sentences and probation, WFSB-TV said.
But more allegations came to light Friday in the explosive case, and prosecutors said they also want to go to trial.
“I think the only proper resolution of this matter is to try it,” said prosecutor David Zagaja, according to the Hartford Courant.
RELATED: MAN WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED 6-MONTH-OLD UNTIL SHE DIED DID NOT INTEND TO KILL THE VICTIM: LAWYERS
Douglas Wirth, 45, leaves Hartford Superior Court in Connecticut on Friday after his attorney withdrew a plea agreement in a sex-abuse case.
Judge Joan Alexander agreed that a trial would be “in the interest of justice. The facts must be shown and must be shown publicly.”
Harasz and Wirth adopted nine children — three sets of male siblings — beginning in 2000, and ran a home-based dog breeding business called The Puppy Guy.
The couple was arrested in November 2011 following a police and state investigation of sex-abuse allegations. The children were removed from the home.
Police said two boys, ages 5 and 15, accused Harasz of sexually assaulting them. Harasz was initially facing first-degree sexual assault and other charges, while Wirth had been charged with third-degree sexual assault of the 15-year-old boy.
Their arrest warrants claimed the couple not only sexually and physically abused the children, but also forced them to sleep in closets.
Other children in the home told authorities that they weren’t abused, and prosecutors had agreed to a plea deal because they said a lack of forensic evidence would make it difficult to prove all of the allegations.
RELATED: OREGON PRIEST SENTENCED TO 6 YEARS IN JAIL FOR SEXUALLY ABUSING 12-YEAR-OLD
George Harasz, 49, leaves Hartford Superior Court in Connecticut on Friday following new allegations of abuse by his adopted children.
But now, three other children are claiming they were also abused, although no new criminal charges had been filed Friday, the Hartford Courant reported.
One of the victims who spoke during the court hearing said sexual assault began when he was 6.
“They took turns raping me over and over,” he said. “Anyone who would do this to a child is a sick, demented person.”
Supporters of Harasz and Wirth also spoke Friday in defense of the couple. One of their children, Carlos Harasz, said the accusers were lying and that the abuse suffered was under previous foster parents.
Carlos Harasz added that the state Department of Children and Families “took the word of an angry, damaged, disturbed boy and destroyed a family.”
Police have been ordered to investigate the latest accusations, and the parties are set to appear in court again June 5.
According to former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, we could see a gay NFL player “sooner than you think.” There could be as many as four announcements from players around the league, all on the same day.
Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was released by Baltimore this offseason, and on the heels of comments earlier this week where he suggested that he was cut in part because of his outspoken stance on gay rights and equality issues, Ayanbadejo clarified himself to the Baltimore Sun on Friday. During an hour-long interview he made it clear that he harbors no resentment for the Ravens, and respects them for the support they offered him throughout his career both on and off the field. But that’s not all.
When the conversation turned to his work with gay rights and the question of when we might see an openly gay player in the NFL, Ayanbadejo had this to say:
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”
Ayanbadejo’s release not related to advocacy
The 36-year old linebacker says he was misquoted in a report claiming his release was related to his stance on gay rights. He took to Twitter to defend his former team.
In other words, everyone prepare themselves for the most insane day of the NFL offseason in human history. A day to make the sports world explode, basically.
And it would be awesome.
The one reason to worry about an NFL player coming out as gay would be the inevitable avalanche of horrible jokes, hateful responses, and insane scrutiny, all directed at one human being. Nobody deserves that, and it would be ugly. But as Ayanbadejo says, “If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive.”
In addition to muting the backlash toward any one player, four players coming out in four different cities — AT THE SAME DAMN TIME — would get all kinds of love and support, too, spreading the acceptance around the country, making this a more universal sign of progress in the NFL and the sports world, in general.
“It’s cool. It’s exciting,” says Ayanbadejo of the possibility. “We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.” Yes we will.
Robbie Rogers came out of the closet last month and recently he conducted two interviews with the Guardian and the New York Times. Rogers gave very candid answers he acknowledged that he retired from soccer because he believes he cannot be openly gay and compete. However, on numerous gay websites such as Outsports.com, Queerty, Towleroad, gay men have attacked Rogers calling him a coward. What right do people have to make Robbie Rogers into something he doesn’t want to be? The pressure for a gay male athlete to become the gay Jackie Robinson is a lot of pressure.
How can gay men call Rogers a coward when gay men we know how hard it is to come out? The crabs in the barrel syndrome is so common in the gay community it is disgusting!
Rogers also stated that since he came out no closeted gay male soccer players have emailed him or contacted him he was disappointed. The fear the gay male athletes have in professional sports is very real.
The mainstream media, are very politically correct, everyone is saying the right things, that the time is right for a gay male athlete to come out in a team sport. However, if the time is right why hasn’t anyone done it? Why? Why is it in the year 2013, no professional male athlete has come out in the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, golf, tennis, soccer? If society is so progressive as people say why is there still this intense fear that the closeted gay male athletes have?
According to Rogers, he only came out to his family in October 2012. The young man is clearly still struggling to accept his homosexuality. In the New York Times, Rogers says he doesn’t go to gay bars and he doesn’t pick up men. Rogers seems brand new, he is still trying to make sense of his life as an openly gay man. Rogers is also a Catholic, his family is very religious.
The gay community we are our own worst enemy. Some gay people place so much expectations on gay celebrities to be role models to push the gay movement forward. Yet some gay and lesbian people, don’t care to understand some gay stars don’t want to be spokespersons for the movement.
For instance, Jodie Foster the Academy award-winning lesbian actress refuses to be a gay role model and I applaud Foster’s decision. Foster is a very private woman, and she’s living her life on her own terms not for the gay community but for herself. In Robbie Roger’s case, he knows more about the homophobia in professional soccer than the general public. Rogers says the straight male soccer players are hypocritical, on the one hand they claim to support Rogers yet he says they also make gay jokes in the change room.
I think people expect too much from gay celebrities, we place our goals, dreams, and aspirations on these people yet we forget they are people too. Robbie Rogers has done a lot of good just by coming out. If Rogers doesn’t want to compete in professional soccer again it is his personal choice. No one has the right to lecture to Rogers that he must become the gay Jackie Robinson. Rogers is cognizant, he will be subjected to homophobia from fans, and perhaps even other soccer players if he competed again. Rogers feels he can’t handle dealing with gay slurs and negativity when he is competing. Rogers is being honest, he probably doesn’t want to be placed on to a pedestal and have the media put so much scrutiny on him. The pressure to be perfect would be overwhelming.
Time Magazine’s cover with two gay and lesbian couples kissing might appear progressive but is it really? Unfortunately, Time Magazine is still engendering the myopic image that to be gay or lesbian still means to be white. Why didn’t Time Magazine consider having an African American gay couple, or an Asian American lesbian couple or an interracial homosexual couple on the cover?
I believe a Time Magazine cover with gay people of colour would be more powerful because it would symbolize that gay marriage rights in America isn’t just a white gay issue.
This image is just the status quo, it doesn’t challenge anything it simply reinforces the white gay and lesbian image. Why would communities of colour care about gay rights or same sex marriage when the representation of homosexuality in the public sphere is always about white homosexuals?
I notice, there isn’t anyone with a disability on the cover? Are all gay and lesbian people able bodied?
Another thing, I noticed is why are the gay and lesbian couples on the cover young people? So only younger people under forty can be gay? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if a senior citizen gay or lesbian couple was on the cover? This cover is very disappointing because it treats gay rights as a young white person’s issue. The image of homosexuality in pop culture is very myopic and it excludes so many people.
Racialicious Article Criticizes Macklemore Says Mainstream Media Put Him On Pedestal Because He’s A White Straight Male.
Race + Hip-Hop + LGBT Equality: On Macklemore’s White Straight Privilege
On March 6, 2013 ·
By Guest Contributor Hel Gebreamlak
Macklemore (left) and Ryan Lewis in video for “Thrift Shop.”
Much of the nation was introduced to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis this past weekend, thanks to their appearance on Saturday Night Live, a major accomplishment and promotional tool for any musical artist. Considering the indie-rap duo’s already growing popularity with their chart-topper and multi-platinum seller, “Thrift Shop,” it is important to examine the impact of their success.
Macklemore has already been touted by several media outlets as the progressive voice on gay rights in hip-hop since the release of “Same Love,” his second single to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song, which peaked at No. 89 last week, tries to tackle the topic of gay marriage and homophobia in media and US culture, focusing specifically on hip-hop with lyrics such as, “if I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me.”
Though Macklemore is not gay, “Same Love” has gotten many accolades from fellow straight supporters, as well as members of the gay community. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where DeGeneres introduced them by saying, “Here’s why you need to care about our next guest. No other artists in hip-hop history have ever taken a stand defending marriage equality the way they have.”
But, how can this be the case when there is already an entire genre, Homo Hop, comprised solely of queer hip-hop artists? Whether it is intentional or not, Macklemore has become the voice of a community to which he doesn’t belong in a genre that already has a queer presence waiting to be heard by mainstream audiences.
Mary Lambert performs “Same Love” on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
We should also examine the song’s hook, performed by lesbian singer-songwriter Mary Lambert. Lambert first gained notoriety as a spoken-word artist, and it is important to remember that spoken word, like hip-hop, is rooted in Black culture. They are both a response to white supremacy.
However, Lambert, like Macklemore and Lewis, is a white artist. This begs the question: what does it mean to have three white people–two of whom are straight–be the beacon of gay rights in hip-hop?
In “Same Love,” Macklemore does not address these concerns. Instead, he raps about hip-hop as if it were his. The song lyrics even take it a step further by conflating Black civil rights and gay rights, which are both about identities he does not possess and oppressions he does not experience:
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other f*ggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference
Nov. 2, 2008 protest against Prop. 8 in California. Image by John Hyun via Flickr Creative Commons.
Macklemore speaks of hip-hop as if his whiteness is irrelevant when criticizing the genre as a whole for being homophobic. These lyrics are very reminiscent of much of the shaming of people of color that occurred in 2008 after the passing of Prop 8 in California, where Black people and Latin@s were accused of being responsible for the anti-gay legislation passing while seemingly ignoring the millions of dollars raised by white Christians to ban marriage equality. Though Macklemore may not be blaming Black people for homophobia, by focusing on homophobia in Black community spaces as opposed to the pervasiveness of homophobia everywhere, white people get to remove themselves from the problem.
On top of this, the same argument that suggests that Black people should be more understanding of homophobia because of their own oppression is used both in the lyrics of “Same Love” and in many racist pro-marriage equality campaigns. This line of argument suggests that homophobia perpetrated by people of color is somehow worse because they should have known better as people who are also oppressed. Furthermore, when white people are homophobic, it is less condemnable because they don’t know what it is like.
Along with not acknowledging his white privilege in “Same Love,” Macklemore uses the homophobic slur “f*ggot” in the second verse seemingly without any consideration of his straight privilege. Though he is condemning the use of the slur, there are ways he could have held this conversation without inciting the word itself, since many folks within the queer community feel hurt by straight people using that word in any context. And in the third verse he raps, “and a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.” For many queer people of color who have not seen themselves represented in the marriage equality campaign, it can be very hurtful to have a straight person–let alone a white one in a musical genre that was created to address white supremacy–tell them where the best place to start is.
In a November 2012 interview with Chris Talbott of The Associated Press, Macklemore expresses his fear over touring in states like Idaho, Montana, and Texas as a pro-gay artist. Macklemore was afraid that there would be backlash from the heartland, however, was pleasantly surprised when the rap duo was met with open arms. “Those were three places where people probably sang the loudest,” Macklemore said.
Macklemore’s fear of traveling these states demeans the reality that there are queer people there to begin with, who are already living in communities that are theirs. He also fails to acknowledge that he is straight and, therefore, experiences the privilege of not being gay-bashed.
This line of thinking appears to have informed the song “Same Love” from the start. The single supports the idea or, at least, implies that people of color–particularly Black folks who created hip hop–are more homophobic than white people and that there are no queer people who feel supported in these communities. This is very dismissive of queer people of color who consider communities of color their primary communities, who have experienced racism by queer communities, and for queer hip-hop artists of color who have found a home in the undervalued sub-genre of homo hop.
However, Macklemore distances himself from his privileges. Continuing to focus on hip-hop, he talked about misogyny and homophobia in hip-hop culture with Kurt Andersen of Studio 360:
Those are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip hop culture, Its 2012. There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we’re evolving and I think that hip hop has always been a representation of what’s going on in the world right now.
By making statements such as these, Macklemore not only gets to remove himself from straight and male privilege–both of which he benefits–but he also gets to be the white savior of hip-hop. Macklemore pleads for hip-hop to be more accepting of non-queer women and queer people, but he does not promote the work of non-queer women and queer hip-hop artists of color. In fact, he does not even include a queer person of color in the song “Same Love,” but instead chose Lambert, a white person whose success was also found in a Black art form.
Macklemore acknowledged the complications of being a white artist in hip-hop earlier in his career, in the song “White Privilege”:
[W]hite rappers albums really get the most spins
The face of hip hop has changed a lot since Eminem
And if he’s taking away black artists’ profits I look just like him
Claimed a culture that wasn’t mine, the way of the American
Hip Hop is gentrified and where will all the people live
Despite knowing that white artists get more recognition due to racism, Macklemore has not taken any steps to minimize this reality. He has not been accountable to homo-hop artists of color, who not only are impacted by homophobia in society as a whole, but also go unsupported because of homophobia and racism that favors white straight men like Macklemore. Macklemore has not corrected the misinformation that he is the most pro-gay voice in hip hop, when what could be more pro-gay than a gay artist within the genre? And none of the artists featured on “Same Love” have been openly accountable to the fact that they are profiting in a genre that does not belong to them at the expense of queer artists of color.
Lambert’s website calls the song “revolutionary.” But, is it really revolutionary to take up space in a genre that exists in response to a system of oppression you benefit from? Is it revolutionary for Macklemore, as a white straight man, to assume that gay people–including gay people of color who may find strength in hip hop in the face of racism–must feel that the genre hates them as is stated in the first line of the second verse in “Same Love”?
And, is it revolutionary for white people to get mainstream recognition for talking about homophobia in hip-hop, when queer hip-hop artists of color are routinely ignored? The fact of the matter is the success of “Same Love” is largely due at least in part to white audiences being more receptive to white straight men talking about oppression than oppressed people, as well as the comfort of being able to remove themselves from misogyny and homophobia because the oppression at hand is the fault of Black people in hip-hop. What could be more revolutionary than that? How about listening to queer people of color?
Hel Gebreamlak is the co-founder of Writing Resistance and author of the blog Black, Broken & Bent.
The Story Behind The Split
[Blind Gossip] People are sad over this attractive couple’s split. Let’s clarify a few things about their relationship.
First of all, they were never a real couple. However, they really were friends with one another.
Secondly, the arrangement worked so well over time, that they actually thought about making it more permanent.
Thirdly, they broke up very suddenly, but it was not because of a conflict between the man and the woman. The real conflict was between the man and the woman’s brother. That’s right! The guy didn’t really break up with her. He was actually breaking up with her brother! She was just a casualty of the fallout.
Why did they break up? One guy heard that the other betrayed him (we don’t know if it was true or not). The breakup followed very quickly after that. It was very sudden and very ugly.
Finally, all three in this relationship are adults and are professionals in the industry, so we think that there is a zero out of ten chance that any details of their relationship or their breakup will ever be made public.
Guy: Ryan Seacrest
Gal: Julianne Hough
Gal’s Brother: Derek Hough
Clue: ‘zero out of ten’ chance – refers to the Dancing with the Stars scoring system.
Everyone knows Ryan Seacrest is gay he isn`t fooling anyone. It is sad though that Ryan and Derek Hough feel the need to hide their gay relationship by getting Julianne involved. Ryan Seacrest is a television host I doubt it would hurt his career if he came out. Derek Hough is a dancer, nobody would be surprised if he came out of the closet
Blame and Bullshit and Bus and Bullet and Bucks and Baloney
[Blind Gossip] This TV Star used to think that he was oh-so-critical to the success of this TV show. They couldn’t possibly succeed without him!
He demanded top dollar, slept with practically every female who wanted to be part of the show, and flexed his power by telling producers to fire anyone who he didn’t think was up to his standards.
When people started blaming him for the bad decisions that led to his show’s decline, he initially asked producers to lie and say that was not been responsible for the changes. In fact, tell everyone that he fought against them! Yes… that’s it… that’s the story! He really wanted his colleague to stay! And he even offered to step down to make that possible! He is a hero, not the villain! And…and…and…
Oh, please! According to staff at the show, this entire story is pure bullsh*t. They were trying to save their star, they couldn’t, and now the whole thing is such a mess, they only have one option left: They are going to throw TV Star himself under the bus!
Yes, karma has come full circle, and he is getting the boot. Although he does have a contract that runs through next year, producers are now getting their ducks in a row to push him out. They will be offering him money to walk away before his contract expires. While the buyout will be very expensive, it would be even more expensive to let him stay and watch ratings continue to decline. So they are going to bite the bullet, and pay him the big bucks to go away sooner rather than later. They don’t have a story yet to go with his departure (Illness? Family? Other opportunities?), but we’re sure they will come up with some baloney excuse.
Oh… one final thing. He doesn’t know that this is happening yet. They will be meeting with him tomorrow. Yes, you know before he does.
TV Show: Today Show
TV Guy: Matt Lauer
First Clue: The Daily Beast published a very sympathetic PR fluff piece to spin that Matt Lauer wasn’t to blame for NBC firing Ann Curry. However, it is easy to discern the article is clearly just trying to make Lauer not look like the bad guy.
Second Clue: Matt Lauer is paid $20 million dollars per year.
Third Clue: Al Roker made the reference about “throwing under the bus” after Ann Curry was fired from the Today Show.
According to NBC sports journalist Mike Florio, NFL executives are secretly worried that Manti Te’o is gay. Florio tells radio host Dan Patrick that the NFL teams are fearful of signing Manti Te’o because they are worried his sexuality might be a distraction. The conversation starts at the 2:50 mark. Florio states that, NFL teams want to know Manti Te’o sexuality because they are concerned whether he is a risk or not. However, Florio’s comments about the NFL are disturbing but not surprising.
The level of homophobia in men’s professional sports is still a serious problem. Manti Te’o already told Katie Couric a few weeks ago he isn’t gay. Unfortunately, some people in the NFL don’t believe Manti Te’o is telling the truth. Why should Manti Te’o sexual orientation matter anyway? Why do people care? Florio does make a cogent argument the lockeroom is a homophobic place where the straight men are fearful of gay men. A gay male athlete still has not come out in one of the four major team sports in America. I think this Manti Te’o controversy proves the men’s sports culture is still extremely homophobic. Even if Manti Te’o isn’t gay, he is going to be crucified and criticized by opposing teams when he reaches the NFL.
- Alexander Abad-Santos 51,537 ViewsFeb 22, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI has claimed that he’s resigning the papacy next week because of old age. But according to the major Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the real reason he resigned is because he did not want to deal the repercussions of a secret 300-page Vatican dossier that allegedly found, among other things, an underground network of high-ranking gay clergy, complete with sex parties and shady dealings with the already scandal-ridden Vatican bank. Here’s what we know:
Pope Benedict asked for the investigation. “The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign — the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ affair,” according to the The Guardian‘s translation of the report.
The Vatican has a Velvet Mafia — and the Velvet Mafia is being blackmailed. The dossier alleges that a gay lobby exists within the Church, and has some sort of control on the careers of those in the Vatican. The dossier also alleges that this group isn’t as covert as it thinks — and got blackmailed by people on the outside. “The cardinals were said to have uncovered an underground gay network, whose members organise sexual meetings in several venues in Rome and Vatican City, leaving them prone to blackmail,” reads The Sydney Morning Herald‘s translation of the report, and The Guardian adds: “They included a villa outside the Italian capital, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlour in the centre, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop.” Some important context on this still powerful group:
- This isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a gay faction inside the highest ranks of the Church. Indeed, it isn’t even the first time that La Repubblica has written about it. Back in 2010, Ghinedu Ehiem, a Nigerian clergyman who was part of one of the Vatican’s prestigious choirs, was dismissed after police wiretaps found him negotiating for male prostitutes. La Repubblica had those wiretaps.
- And “in 2007 a senior official was suspended from the congregation, or department, for the priesthood, after he was filmed in a ‘sting’ organised by an Italian television programme while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man,” according to The Guardian — evidence the paper says connects to a gay network within the Holy See.
La Repubblica‘s sourcing seems to have been corroborated. So how much of this new scandal should you believe? Well, La Repubblica is not the only publication with an outline of this scandalous dossier. Panorama, an Italian weekly, has a similar report out late this week and according to the AFP, both publications have sources (perhaps the same source) who said the same thing: that the investigation shows transgressions that “revolve around the sixth and seventh commandments” — “Thou shall not commit adultery” and “Thou shall not steal.” It’s assumed in multiple reports that homosexual sex acts fall under the “adultery” umbrella.
The Vatican’s bank sounds fishy. La Repubblica says that the seventh commandment (“Though shall not steal”) has to do with the Institute of Religious Works, the Vatican’s Bank. “The three cardinals continued to work beyond 17 December last year. They came up with the latest events concerning the IOR — here you go to the seventh commandment,” reads the report, according to a rough Google Translation. On February 15, Pope Benedict appointed Ernst von Freyberg, a German lawyer, to head the scandalous bank.
The Vatican’s response isn’t exactly comforting. They Church isn’t flat-out denying the inflammatory allegations from La Repubblica, and they’ve pulled the classic act of neither confirming nor denying. Vatican spokesman Father Ferederico Lombardi said in a statement:
Neither the cardinals’ commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this.
Pope Benedict’s successor will have a rough first day. If this damning dossier was really a big enough deal to have forced the first papal resignation in 600 years, who gets to deal with it? That undertaking will go to Benedict’s successor. According to La Repubblica, the dossier will stay in a secret papal safe and delivered to Benedict’s successor whenever he is elected — and that isn’t all, La Repubblica said this gay blackmail thing is just the first in a series of articles by the paper
For what seems like a lifetime, those who follow gay issues in sports have been addressing the same tiresome series of questions: “Is America ready for an openly gay athlete in one of the four major team sports?” “When will a current player finally come out?” “How will it affect the locker room?”
The list goes on.
While we wait patiently for a major athlete to come out and put these questions to rest, at least we can see our dreams (and, at times, our nightmares) play out in Hollywood.
Last week, USA Network’s Necessary Roughness became the latest in a long line of TV shows to imagine an athlete’s coming-out process. The depiction of quarterback Rex Evans making the decision to come out as a gay man has largely been treated with care, compassion and complexity.
The storyline reflects evolving attitudes toward LGBT equality in American culture, and it differs from previous coming-out plots in that Rex isn’t fired or forced onto injured reserve. But there is one trait that Rex Evans shares with most of his fictional gay athlete predecessors:
I am currently researching the history of LGBT athletes on television for a study that is due out this fall, but one doesn’t need a content analysis to see that an overwhelming majority of gay athletes depicted in entertainment media are white.
The gay quarterback from Showtime’s Queer as Folk? White. The gay tight end from ESPN’s Playmakers? White. Eric Dane as a gay quarterback in the movie Valentine’s Day, the gay defensive back on ABC’s Coach and even the animated gay jock from ParaNorman? White, white and… white. I am still searching the annals of TV history, but so far the list of portrayals of gay athletes of color seems to be limited to Santana, the Latina lesbian cheerleader from Glee; Calvin, the African-American hockey/football player from Greek; and Theo, the African-American backup quarterback from Arli$$, who combats gay rumors by purposely getting photographed in a hot tub with two underage girls.
Of course, diversity problems are nothing new in Hollywood. Even after years of media diversity advocacy, TV is still largely white (only 22 percent of all broadcast TV characters this season are people of color) and largely straight (4 percent of characters are LGBT). Drilling down deeper, LGBT people of color have always been plagued by invisibility in media, but the lack of LGBT athletes of color on TV is particularly befuddling because it is so wildly dissimilar from real life. Over 82 percent of the NBA, 70 percent of the NFL and 39 percent of MLB are made up of people of color, so when the first active player in one of these sports does decide to come out, there is a pretty good chance he won’t look like the TV versions that precede him.
Television portrayals of LGBT characters have long been on a steady ascent, not only in number but in complexity of character. Characters from shows like Will & Grace, Modern Family and The New Normal have done wonders for changing hearts and minds on LGBT equality, but they have also contributed to the lack of visibility for non-white LGBT people. This is particularly troubling considering that a 2012 Gallup poll found that white people are the least likely group to identify as LGBT (3.2 percent, compared with 4.6 percent of African Americans).
Television isn’t the only problem, though; the perception that openly gay athletes are predominately white also seems to exist in the real world, via the rumor mill. OutSports maintains a historical archive of gay rumors in professional sports, and the most prominent professional athletes who have faced rumors about their sexuality have been predominately white. It isn’t exclusively white, but for every Kordell Stewart there are many more Troy Aikmans, Steve Youngs and Mike Piazzas fighting off the gay rumors.
The athletes who have came out after their career’s end and those who have come out in other sports have told a very different story than the fictional gay athletes on TV and in the rumor mill. This list includes African-American athletes like Glenn Burke and Wade Davis, Latino athletes like Orlando Cruz, Asian Pacific Islander athletes like Esera Tualo and even some white athletes like Billy Bean.
The reality is that years down the line (or much sooner than that, if you believe this recent ESPN.com poll), when there are many active openly gay players in the four major sports, they will reflect a wide spectrum of diversity, and hopefully entertainment media will start portraying this diversity accurately.