During an emotional senate hearing, debating same-sex marriage, Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson dropped a bomb, in what the Las Vegas Sun described as a “trembling voice.” Atkinson admitted before an audience of his peers:
I’m black and I’m gay. I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.
During the lengthy legislative debate over the measure to repeal the state’s gay marriage ban (passed in 2000 and 2002), Atkinson challenged the notion that gay marriage threatens other marriages.
If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.
NBA ATHLETE COMES OUT
In more recent news and also joining the coming-out brigade is Washington Wizards center Jason Collins. Not only is Collins the first active NBA player to step outside the closet, but he’s also the first active male athlete in any major American pro team sport to openly admit to being a homosexual.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.
His full story can be found in the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated.
THE ‘DOWN LOW’ DILEMMA
What Kelvin Atkinson and Jason Collins have done is help spill light over the long line of individuals who’ve stepped forward to show us that gays are not these faceless and terrifying boogeymen. Instead, they are two of many that debunk the idea of what being gay is, looks like and does. Question is: who else hasn’t stepped out?
R&B crooner John Legend latterly sold his third successful script to HBO, a series titled Down Lo, which depicts a drama about a homosexual rapper working in the Hip-hop community. The script is inspired by true-life experiences and Legend’s industry knowledge. This should spark an interesting conversation.
The term “down low” –– commonly applied to a man hiding behind a heterosexual facade –– isn’t a novel one. It’s a phrase that indicates deceit and is looked at as dishonorable. Naturally, of course, because nobody likes to be lied to. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that there are real people scared sh*tless of being honest with their friends and families about who they are and how they feel.
Having said that… what are we to do? How are we to react when someone close to us, and in this case, a man, admits to being gay? Do we shun them? Condemn them? After all, Atkinson and Collins aren’t the first and they won’t be the last.