Many years ago I roomed with one of the other assistant coaches on our staff for an extended road trip. Because we were on the road so long, we discussed a variety of subjects, one of which was gays. Not gay athletes (or lesbians), just gay men. My “roommate” absolutely despised homosexuals, saying he was disgusted a man would choose to live that way. I said that I didn’t think they necessarily wanted to be gay. He maintained it was a way of life and whoever lived that style of life had to have selected it. Nothing I said seemed to shake his profound belief until I finally came up with a scenario that, while it didn’t change his mind, it did rattle his foundation - a little.
The language we used in the conversation was salty so out of respect for those readers who would be uncomfortable with it, I’ve changed the exact words. Independent of who you are, you will thoroughly understand the message so there’s no need to put it down verbatim. I initially asked him if (a female star whom I can’t remember now but who would be that day’s equivalent of Beyonce) walked into the room and began to disrobe, would he get excited? He said of course he would. I asked him if he was sure, if there was anything that would prevent that from happening. He assured me that, other than being blind and deaf (he did put those qualifiers on his answer), he would be aroused. Maybe he thought it was a trick question.
Then I asked him if (the equivalent of LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell or Eric Olsen - hey, I think NCIS-LA has a good-looking cast - including Daniela Ruah) did the same thing, if he’d experience similar feelings. “NO WAY!” he screamed, as if I should have been drawn and quartered for even suggesting it.
Wait, I asked, how about if the lights were low, some Barry White was playing and . . .”NO!“ I go the “caps” answer to that one.
C’mon, what if he’d been out drinking and just got really wasted and hadn’t had sex in a month (this guy was in his early 30s and was a very eligible bachelor) and the dancer was wearing provocative . . . There aren’t enough expletives for his response.
I went for the trump card. “Even if you tried to talk yourself into it?” When he remained steadfast in his belief, I said to him, “Don’t you think that’s how it is for gay guys? What you’re saying is you’re wired into feeling the way you do - and couldn’t change if you tried. Don’t you think it’s the same for them?”
I noticed in one of the past couple issues of SI there was a letter from a reader which corrected a previous SI story that used the term “sexual preference.” The writer said it should have been “sexual orientation.”
The following quote from Warren Bennis’ was referring to how business leaders should treat employees in general. I’m not sure this topic is what he had in mind, yet it fits perfectly.
“Accept people as they are, not as you want them to be.”
Accept people as they are, not as you want them to be.