Answering criticism for ousting three bisexual-identifying male players for not being, well, gay, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association is mounting the most ineffective of all defenses: Don’t hate on us because we’re small and trying rilly hard! Playing the victim doesn’t get you anywhere in the press. Or the courts. Especially when you’re on the side of defending discrimination.
“At its core, NAGAAA is a grass roots organization dedicated to providing a safe environment for gays and lesbians,” says a statement released by NAGAAA. “We have no paid staff; we do not have large sums of money, nor a pool of talented lawyers. It saddens all of us that the NCLR, whom we view as members of our community, have chosen this destructive path. NAGAAA represents a diverse population, and as such there are legitimate differences of opinion among us. However, the action by the NCLR has forced these differences into the court system, rather than allowing our members the right to define who and what we are. One thing is clear, if NCLR is successful, the enormous monetary damages they seek will put our very existence in jeopardy. Regardless of the outcome, everyone loses here. There are no winners We are just at the beginning of this difficult saga. The Board is committed to representing our organization to the best of our abilities. We are guided by the framework of our organizational charter, as written by you, our members. We commit to keeping you informed as this process continues. We believe that once the facts are discovered a very different story emerges from that which has been reported, and we hope that NCLR will join with us.”
So, the reason you don’t want to be sued is because the gays should watch out for each other? Hah. If that were so, GLAAD and HRC would never be criticized.
Moreover, the argument in favor of insular policing is the same one the Catholic Church is, right this minute, trying to defend in its handling of sexual abuse cases. No, not an apples to apples plot, but if your organization breaks the law, by discriminating against someone on the basis of their sexuality, you don’t get to play a game of inside baseball and mitigate things for yourself. Your actions infringed upon the rights guaranteed to all people, and you surrender your authority when you violate them.
If the claims in NCLR’s lawsuit are true, that NAGAAA asked players about their sex lives as some sort of certification for homosexuality to see who can play, then you violated not only your players’ right to privacy, but the unwritten core tenant of the LGBT community: Thou shalt not discriminate. Even the world’s largest gay sporting event, the Gay Games, while encouraging LGBT athletes, does not force entrants to pass a litmus test to compete, and is orientation- and identity-blind. These entities are there to encourage participation from sexual minorities, sure; they are also there to foster an environment where heterosexism is not the norm. Straight athletes who choose to take part are helping achieve that goal. Unless they are making homophobic remarks, or making a bigger deal about their sexuality than you are, let them play. The NAGAAA’s rules allow two straight players per team, which is a nice way of offering a couple of spots to token straights (who often happen to be excellent players), and for some that might be enough. But what if a black league only offered two spots for whites? You can see where this is going.
And even if these men are heterosexual, and not bi? We should still be welcoming them to play. That they’ve got no problem playing in an almost entirely gay league says much about their character. That NAGAAA officials refuse to let straight athletes play, well, it says even more about their lack of it.