Homophobe Tim Hardaway’s Change of Words

tim hardawayIn the African American community we desperately need public role models denouncing anti-homophobic bullying, vitriol, and discrimination.

Since too few role models come from the Black Church, many of us lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) brothers and sisters of African descent look to black role models, especially males, in the areas of entertainment and sports.

But sadly that list too is short.

Tim Hardaway, a retired NBA All-Star player, has recently stepped forward. 

“It’s not right to not let the gays and lesbians have equal rights here,” Hardaway told the crowd at a press conference organized by the “No Recall” group, an El Paso group opposing a recall of El Paso Mayor John Cook and two city representatives for their support to re-establish domestic partner benefits for same-sex and unmarried partners of city employees.

Hardaway, however, is the last person one would expect to speak out on behalf of a LGBTQ social justice issue.

In a 2007 interview on Miami’s sports radio station, “790 The Ticket,” Hardaway was asked how he would interact with a gay teammate. The topic came up because of fellow former NBAer John Amaechi’s announcement, in his book Man in the Middle, that he is gay.

“You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people,” Hardaway said. “I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”

His vitriol, sadly, hurt more than just his post-career endorsements. It hurt the hundreds of young LGBTQ sports enthusiasts and athletes that revered him.

For many of us in the African-American LGBTQ community, however, we were saddened by Hardaway’s remarks, but certainly not surprised. The former CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition H. Alexander Robinson commented on Hardaway’s vitriol, stating, “His callous disregard for the dignity of the lives of gay Americans brings dishonor to himself and the many thousands who look upon him as a role model for young black men and women, many of whom are undoubtedly gay or lesbian.”

I do believe with the right intervention and rehabilitation that vile-spewing homophobes can change. But when their crossover appeal and multi-million careers can or comes to an abrupt halt, their mea culpas appear disingenuous, and their zealous LGBTQ advocacy appears suspect.

For example, Tracy Morgan, comedian and actor on NBC’s “30 Rock,” is a recent example of the malady.

During a standup performance in June at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, Morgan’s “intended” jokes about LGBTQ people were instead insulting jabs.

My son “better talk to me like a man and not in a gay voice or I’ll pull out a knife and stab that little n-gger to death,” Morgan told his audience.

Like Hardaway, Morgan has publicly expressed his mea culpas. Morgan’s was to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s LGBTQ media advocacy and anti-defamation organization―as part and parcel of his forgiveness tour―speaking out in support of LGBTQ equality.

Back in the day, racism was addressed through sports when Jackie Robinson became the first black Major League Baseball player in 1947.Today’s society awards celebrity status to professional athletes of all races, and the popularity of African-American athletes has reached unprecedented levels; their influences go far beyond the court and field.

So, do these athletes like Hardaway have a responsibility to their fans, especially black ones, and society?

Hardaway’s homophobia is shaped by a particular type of black masculinity that no longer has to break through this country’s color barrier to represent the race and prove athletic prowess or manhood in sports.

The aggressive posturing and repudiation of LGBTQ people allows athletes like Hardaway to feel safe in the locker room by maintaining the myth that all the guys gathered on their team are heterosexual, and sexual attraction among them just does not exist.

“I don’t think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room,” Hardaway said during that Miami interview. “If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that’s upset and can’t concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it’s going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate.”

This myth allows homophobic men like Hardaway to enjoy the homo-social setting of the male locker room that creates male-bonding―and the physical and emotional intimacy that goes on among them displayed as slaps on the buttocks, hugging, and kissing on the cheeks in a homoerotic context―while such behavior outside of the locker would be easily labeled as gay.

In his book, Amaechi states, “The NBA locker room was the most flamboyant place I’ve ever been. Guys flaunted their perfect bodies. They bragged about sexual exploits. They primped in front of the mirror, applying cologne and hair gel by the bucketful. They tried on each other’s $10,000 suits, admired each other’s rings and necklaces. It was an intense camaraderie that felt completely natural to them.”

In August, Sports Illustrated writer Dave Zirin caught up with Amaechi to get his take on Hardaway’s turn around.

Rev. Irene Monroe“I was in contact with the people he did his ’emergency rehab’ with after his ’I hate gay people rant.’ They were underwhelmed to say the least. Back then his contrition seemed more to do with the financial and reputation hit he had taken in the aftermath. However, it seems to me that this is a far more genuine piece of outreach. …I hope this is a story of true redemption rather than a savvy P.R. ploy. Either way, he is at least saying the right words, and that will make a positive difference,” Amaechi told Zirin.

But as we know, a change of words does not necessarily bring a change of heart.

Rev. Irene Monroe
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Comments

  1. Scott says

    I heard his religion played a big part in his homophobic upbringing. He was raised Evangelical and now Evangelicals depend on him to sucker more people into joining his religion. Based on my knowledge about them, aren’t they the churches with more than 2,000 per mass? I swear, evangelicals, baptist, and protestants have no moral. The only way they gain believers is to sucker people through celebrities and athletes attending. It takes one Sunday mass to gain signatures for any homophobic law. Still though, as a role model, he sent the NBA a decades back from his homophobic comments.

  2. Gary H says

    Was this a typo or error?

    Opening paragraph reads:
    “In the African American community we desperately need public role models denouncing anti-homophobic bullying … ”

    Should that have read “denouncing homophobic bulling…,” leaving out the prefix “anti-“?

    Gary

  3. Willie C. says

    I’m sure that I’ll truly be in the minority on this site but so be it. First of all, it’s funny how people who claim to be victims of hate are so quick to make up words to label those with different beliefs. ecause I believe that the bible is God’s Word and speaks clearly and emphatically against homosexuality, I’d be called a homophobe. Of course those who oppose God’s Word are seldomed labeled with made up ords. We call you what you are, homosexuals, not “GAY”. It is totally hypocritical for anyone who claims the title of reverend but espouses that which the bible condemns. And yes, God Is Love. He loves you and all homosexuals BUT HE also hates their sinful acts just as He hates the sinful acts of heterosexuals. If you call yourself a reverend, you should be well aware of what the New Testament teaches. If you do, you’ll know the truth, whether you choose to reject it or not. The truth is that everything that you and others are promoting has been foretold in the bible. Also I would leave you, and those who believe as you do with this thought. If I am wrong, and God’s Word is not true, when I die I will have lost nothing. If His Word is real and you continue to reject it, when you die you will have lost everything. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take when it will dictate where I’ll spend eternity.Eternity is a very long time, and no earthly pleasure or perversion for a few years is worth an eternity of torment in Hell. If you believe it is, carry on.

    • MyLeftMind says

      Heh, you’re just a Cafeteria Christian. You believe the Bible is “God’s Word” but you only follow the parts you agree with. The Bible promotes racism, slavery and gender inequality, just like its power hungry, patriarchal authors did back when they were alive. The very same biblical book that declares homosexuality an abomination (Leviticus) also says not to wear mixed fiber clothes or shave your face. Do you shave? Shame on you. Are you clothes made of cotton and polyester? You’re such a heretic! Your concept of the “truth” is to use the bible and your religion to justify hurting others. Pffttt.

      Get real. That book was written hundreds of years ago by a bunch of (mostly) men who wanted to control the general population via religious manipulation. They had a dishonest agenda, and so do you. You’re picking parts of the Bible you want to believe so you can make certain people the hated “other” and feel better about yourself. If you really want to be a good Christian, try understanding the message Jesus presented. And I suggest you start by being honest about your cafeteria picks of biblical concepts you’re willing to believe and promote.

      Lord, protect us from your foolish followers.

    • Gary H says

      Dear Willie C.

      Christianity is a big tent, irrespective of God or Bible belief and interpretation there are MANY God believing Christians who do not share your anti-Gay views. Several mainline churches in my neighborhood – including Methodist and Lutheran – have gay welcoming signs on their buildings. Most of these liberal modern Christians believe in a God of universal Love. Maybe you should join them. Of course, being positive believers in Jesus as Love, they hardly make any mention of hell. Maybe you would find that a positive refreshing change. I wish more positive Christians would comment on this.
      – Gary, a secular Humanist who happens to agree whole heartedly with many Christians that love is universal.
      Member of Center for Inquiry (CFIwest.org) and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Humanist Association (HALA.org).

  4. says

    Hardaway had a killer crossover move, so his crossover might be legit. If there was one feature in his game which will go down in history about him , its the crossover. This summer I was visiting my cousins and was explaining to my nephew how he did it.Many if not most male clothes designer are gay.He is also a clothes designer which is an interesting dimension to the story.
    Coaches are the people who instill the most homophobia into athletes , calling weak players girls and fairies etc . The LBGT community would do well to confront coaches about how they define weakness or poor play. Local school boards could be asked to require that coaches curb their vocabulary.

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