I admire the gay community. Unlike any minority group in the 21st century, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community refuses to accept bigotry. When a rapper (Bow Wow), an actor (Isaiah Washington), or a sports figure (Tim Hardaway), makes a homophobic slur, the gays see to it that an apology is issued. Hardaway and Washington still haven’t recovered from the great gay wrath.
The LGBT community has taken notes from the leaders of women’s rights in the 1920s and African-American rights in the 1960s, managing to carve out a ferocious, “The gays don’t play” attitude. Even the poster child for urban machismo, 50 Cent, puts his tail between his legs when the gays give him a hot lash for comments on Twitter.
The latest homophobic drama is Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant calling a referee a “faggot” during Tuesday night’s live telecast on TNT. The word was caught on camera and Bryant, who makes a salary of 25 million dollars, has been fined $100,000 by the NBA. He apologized and is appealing the fine.
Kobe, pay the fine. Think of it in that way when you were accused of rape in 2003. You were allegedly just cheating and supposedly bought your wife, Vanessa, a diamond ring rumored to be worth 4 million dollars. If that didn’t ease Vanessa’s pain, nothing would. Money talks and in this case, a $100,000 fine is a nice Band-Aid for this social infraction.
The reason why Kobe should pay: he was in the public arena of a national telecast. No, he shouldn’t be tarred and feathered, but taking responsibility outside of an apology is important. That said, Kobe Bryant probably isn’t homophobic but that isn’t the point. Imagine if the word was used at your average workplace in America — someone would be fired or suspended.
One might argue this is sports culture, no one should take it personal. However, if the word “f-word” wasn’t part of our American lexicon of insults, it wouldn’t have come out of Kobe’s mouth. We need to purge ourselves of that word, especially if you are in the public eye. With African-Americans and the “n-word,” there is a two-sided argument. An older generation arguing the word is offensive and should never be used. Younger generations claiming they have reinvented the word — yet upset if anyone outside of black folks use the word.
Yes, faggot and nigger are different, but the parallels are strong enough as to the reason why we, as black folks, never got beyond that word. The older and younger generation never took collective responsibility. The LGBT community doesn’t say, “That’s my faggot!” or “All my real faggots stand up!” This social fever of the LGBT community angers some conservatives in the black community and there is a political jealousy to see the stands that the LGBT community unapologetically takes. The reason why their strides are successful is because gays are not just white men. They are Black, Latino, poor, rich, Christian, Atheist and any other social label, a collective group with their straight allies who are saying, “No more.” Shut up and pay, Kobe.
Clay Cane is a New York City-based journalist. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter.