Chris Culliver, the San Francisco 49ers player who badmouthed gays last week, will soon begin LGBT sensitivity training. When do the public figures who badmouth conservative Christians begin their sensitivity training?
Back in 2007, basketball player Tim Hardaway received an avalanche of criticism when he said during a radio interview, “I hate gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world for that or in the United States for it. So yeah, I don’t like it.” He too went to sensitivity training and has since emerged as a gay rights spokesman.
Also in 2007 (as I documented in A Queer Thing Happened to America), Isaiah Washington, star of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, referred to (then-closeted) gay co-star T. R. Knight with the “f--got” word during a heated, on-set incident. He then compounded his transgression in a backstage interview with reporters at the Golden Globes’ event, held on Monday night, January 15th, 2007: “No, I did not call T.R a f--got. Never happened, never happened.”
ABC was quick to express its outrage: “We are greatly dismayed that Mr. Washington chose to use such inappropriate language at the Golden Globes, language that he himself deemed ‘unfortunate’ in his previous public apology,” the network said in a statement. “His actions are unacceptable and are being addressed.”
Neil Giuliano, then president of GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, better described as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Disagreement) referred to the situation as “deeply troubling” and stated that Washington’s repeated use of the word was “inexcusable,” asking for a meeting to discuss “the destructive impact of these kinds of anti-gay slurs.”
Then, on Thursday, January 18th, 2007, Washington came clean, expressing how deep his problems really were: “I apologize to T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance. . . . I can neither defend nor explain my behavior. I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I’ve asked for help.”
He too went for professional counseling and rehabilitation, but despite his apology and his efforts to make amends with the LGBT community, ABC fired him. Contrition and sensitivity training were not enough for the great transgression of simply uttering the “f-----” word.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.