Thank you, Irish rugby player Neil Francis, for explaining gay people to us. We really thought we understood ourselves, but it turns out that we actually needed you, a straight man, to educate us all about what we are like.
When asked his opinion of newly-publicly-out football star Michael Sam, Neil went off on a weird tangent about the differences between straight people and gay people, like a hilarious “white people be like, and black people be like” routine.
“You do a survey of the hair-dressing industry and find out how many heterosexuals work in that,” he said.
He went on, “There are a wide range of people who are homosexual, and… the [sporting] environment… isn’t something that they’re interested in. … What are their interests? I mean, if you’ve ever sat down with homosexual people, and asked them what their interests are, very often they have no interest in any kind of sport. That’s my experience from sitting down with them; I’ve done it on a regular basis.”
Oh, you’ve sat down with homosexual people on a regular basis? Really? We are trying to imagine the context of this. Were you all playing musical chairs? Were you shopping for a new rocker-recliner? Was it a Catholic Mass? Why all the regular sitting-down?
Also, if you actually talked to homosexual people on a regular basis, you would know that we really never say “homosexual people.”
And did it ever occur to you that perhaps there are gay athletes in your life that you don’t know about? And that they haven’t come out to you because your attitudes about hairdressing and sports are so ugly that they don’t trust you?
So, let’s be real for a moment here: Neil is not entirely off the mark by observing that there is a tendency for LGBTs to gravitate towards the arts and away from sport. That’s just the way it is. Is it because of an in-born inclination? Is it social pressure? Is it because of the repetition of stereotypes, as Neil has just done? It’s impossible to say.
But since this is a sensitive topic, maybe it’s a good time for everyone to watch their words carefully to make sure they don’t say something dumb, like “it’s like how the Jews run Hollywood” or “you know how black people can’t swim?” These are things that some people may think are truer than they actually are. Especially if those people are not actually members of the group that they are stereotyping.
Neil could have avoided all this trouble by adding just a few words: “But that’s just my impression. Maybe I’m wrong. Why don’t we ask a gay athlete?”