Still A Long Way To Go
Chris Bosh, gay bashing and the epidemic of bullying.
by Acamea Deadwiler / @AcameaLD
Most of us, including myself, have laughed or at least chuckled when eccentric photos of Chris Bosh emerge on the internet. These photos usually wind up on Twitter and other social networking sites, combined with “creative” captions that reference Bosh’s sexuality, masculinity, or lack thereof.
We may all gain amusement from his propensity to be caught on camera displaying what has widely been deemed feminine mannerisms. The question is, “Why?” What does this say about us as a society? We can say that our willingness to virtually poke and prod him is all in fun. Basketball fans know that Bosh is married with children, so he’s not really gay. Right?
By using this justification, we are essentially suggesting that gay bashing and bullying are OK if we do not believe that the person is actually gay, or they do not live a homosexual lifestyle. And make no mistake that what has recently been done to Bosh is a form of bullying.
Less than flattering monikers associated with his name have been developed, such as “like-a-Bosh” and “Bosh Spice.” There was also unrelenting ridicule when Bosh became overcome with emotion and had to be helped off the floor following the Miami Heat’s elimination from last season’s Playoffs. Merciless taunting again ensued once shots of him taking a champagne shower after winning his first NBA Championship surfaced.
The aforementioned instances are just to name a few of many. If Bosh is caught making even the slightest peculiar facial expression, or displaying a perhaps unconventional reaction, a ruthless barrage of insults and mockery is sure to follow. Sure, the responses are not always directed at his sexuality; sometimes they simply insinuate that he looks “funny.” But the comments are much more often than not directed at Bosh being soft, which is somehow associated with being gay. Which, for some reason, is funny.
Understand that this behavior also reinforces the stereotype that there is something comical and shameful about being homosexual. It is astoundingly offensive to gay individuals when we use this lifestyle as an insult. We see it happen pretty frequently, even from other high profile athletes. It seems as though the use of a gay slur has been deemed the ultimate slight to heterosexual men. This should not be acceptable in today’s society.
We continue to feed the culture of bullying even though we are very much aware of its devastating effects. Not to insinuate that Bosh is a saint, but he is not one of the athletes always in the news for the wrong reasons. He is generally known to be an upstanding, law abiding citizen. Yet, he is repeatedly slandered just for being different; which Bosh himself admits that he is. Doing this implies that making fun of someone because they are not like you is acceptable. Then we are shocked and appalled at the horrendous stories we hear of child bullies, when this is the example we have set for them.
What if Bosh was more easily rattled? What if, he actually was gay? I am not in any way suggesting that he is; in fact, the issue is much bigger than him. But just, what if he were? We would probably never know. Though we like to believe that we are the more liberated, tolerant generation, we have yet to truly establish an atmosphere of acceptance. Instead, we make it even more difficult than it already is for professional athletes, and anyone else for that matter, to come out of the proverbial closet. We make people hesitant to be themselves for fear of rejection and torment. This suppression of one’s true self that is encouraged can only lead to feelings of isolation that often become overwhelming. We must do better.
A valid argument can be made that the insistent, remorseless taunting of Chris Bosh does not come with malicious intent. I certainly know that I have meant no harm with my intermittent comments, as I am sure most others have not as well. But intent does not define the rightness or wrongness of an action.
This is life. Everyone is not going to like you. Some will even tease you on occasion. To expect otherwise would be foolish and lead to tremendous disappointment. But bullying and the maligning of a culture are innately wrong. This is what we have done with Bosh. This is what we, meaning you and I, must change.