On June 1st, the San Francisco Giants became the first professional sports team to join the It Gets Better Project with a video featuring a handful of its players and coaches speaking out against bullying and homophobia towards LGBT kids and teens. This was quickly followed by similar videos from (in order) the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles (with a commitment from the Seattle Mariners to be next). Many other baseball teams are being petitioned as well. As a New Yorker – and Yankee fan – it was a surprise (a wonderful surprise) to see the Red Sox being one of the first teams in. Sure, Boston is a great city, but the social climate is simply not the same as it is in San Francisco, making it perhaps even more impressive in my eyes.
While I was appreciating this welcome breakthrough on the part of professional athletes, I happened to come across this opinion piece in the Boston Globe online. A Boston attorney named Bennett Klein writes:
“Given the varying silence or negative messages about being LGBT, young LGBT people need to hear from their role models that yes, gay is good. Instead, the Red Sox video is full of generalities and platitudes that are at best meaningless and, at worst, unintentionally demeaning. Is Jason Varitek’s comment, “It’s okay to be your own unique being” really telling LGBT youth that they are not like everybody else? Jason, it would have been so powerful to simply say, “It’s okay to be gay.” The Sox video demonstrates that it is still too risky for professional athletes to make affirming statements about LGBT people. Professional athletes are so esteemed in our society that their statements can be real “game changers.” The Sox missed a great opportunity to change the game for LGBT youth.”
His piece can (and should) be read in its entirety.
And while I agree with him on many of the specifics, I still cannot see this as a “missed opportunity”. As a (very) jaded sports fan, this is far more than I would have ever expected, and a very promising first step.
Yankees, your move.