By Andrea Plaid
Those who follow this weekly post know that we just don’t crush out about people here; we’ve been known to show massive love to things like photographs around here. This week’s Crush is along that line.
This week’s Loved Up is Sherman Alexie’s essay about basketball player Jason Collins coming out this week. “Why,” you ask? As the R’s Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson said, “Sherman Alexie is a fool, and we should celebrate it.”
So who are the best-looking men in the USA? The answer, obviously, is professional athletes. I mean, Jesus, Google-Image Adrian Peterson. Study how cut, shredded, and jacked he is.
Cut. Shredded. Jacked. Those are violent straight-boy adjectives that mean “beautiful.” But we straight boys aren’t supposed to think of other men as beautiful. We’re supposed to think of the most physically gifted men as warrior soldiers, as dangerous demigods.
And there’s the rub: When we’re talking about professional athletes, we are mostly talking about males passionately admiring the physical attributes and abilities of other males. It might not be homosexual, but it certainly is homoerotic.
So when Jason Collins, an NBA basketball player, announced this week that he was gay and became the first active athlete in the four major professional American sports leagues to come out of the closet, I was proud of him. And I was aroused, politically speaking.
He’s the Jackie Robinson of homosexual basketball big men.
He’s seven feet and 250 pounds of man-loving man.
And he’s an aging center in the last days of his professional career who might not be signed by a team next season.
Homophobic basketball fans will disparage his skills, somehow equating his NBA benchwarmer status with his sexuality. But let’s not forget that Collins is still one of the best 1,000 basketball players in the world. He has always been better than his modest statistics would indicate, and his teams have been dramatically more efficient with him on the court. He is better at hoops than 99.9 percent of you are at anything you do. He might not be a demigod, but he’s certainly a semi-demigod. Moreover, his basketball colleagues universally praise him as a physically and mentally tough player. In his prime, he ably battled that behemoth known as Shaquille O’Neal. Most of all, Collins is widely regarded as one of the finest gentlemen to ever play the game. Generous, wise, and supportive, he’s a natural leader. And he has a degree from Stanford University.
In other words, he’s a highly attractive dude.
If he does play in the NBA next year, I’m sure certain teammates might feel threatened by his presence in the locker room. I imagine that homophobic fans will hurl insults at him. But I’ll be a fan who will see him sitting at the end of the bench, maybe getting to play a few minutes every other game, and still be jealous of his athletic gifts.
I’ll be the straight boy who’d love to have a fraction of Jason Collins’s physical near-perfection. And other straight-boy fans, homophobic or not, admittedly or not, will also be jealous of Collins’s status among the basketball elite.