Open Phones: Jason Collins Comes Out

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jason Collins came out yesterday as the NBA's first openly gay active athlete, and the first out player in one of the four major men's pro sports. We ask: Why is it a big deal that he came out? How is it different from the fact that female athletes have been out for decades? What does it say about the way that men and women view sexuality? Post a comment here, or call 212-433-9692.

Comments [44]

Apropos to many of the comments here:
"An Introduction to Frot and the Man2Man Alliance" by Luke Shelton and Bill Weintraub, (WARNING: Assume ALL linked-pages to contain sexually explicit imagery-- not only those marked as such.)

Selected excerpts follow.

_____________Begin QUOTED Text___________
"Straight / heterosexual" culture defines Men within the confines of a narrow and sterile idea of how men should relate to one another, both emotionally and physically. Too often, men are taught that any physical bonding with another man that involves sex or emotion automatically brands them as something less than a man.

While "gay male" culture has become obsessed with anal penetration, incessantly asserting that anal is the ultimate expression of erotic contact between males, and that no sexual encounter is complete unless it culminates in an act of anal penetration.
These dangers, of which HIV/AIDS is the best known, but which include hepatitis B and C, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, the human papilloma virus, herpes, and a host of other pathogens, will persist even after AIDS has been cured or can be prevented through vaccination.

And more anally-transmitted diseases most certainly await discovery.

For anal penetration is an exceptionally efficient mode of disease transmission, and we can be sure that pathogens will continue to find an infective niche in anal.
Further, anal penetration subjugates one of the participants to the other, effectively emasculating him, turning him into a pseudo-woman, a proxy in a heterosexualized form of contact. This is an inherently unequal act, epitomized by its tedious terminology of "tops" and "bottoms," which is unmindful of the basic human need for a shared experience without pain and with dignity.

Whereas Frot, phallus-against-phallus contact, is the acme of sexual activity between Men because it's focused on that which makes Men Masculine, namely their genitals -- their Manhood -- rather than their organs of fecal excretion.
_________________End Quoted Text_____________

While I have considerable-- even /fundamental/-- differences with many of the views advanced by this site/group, I nonetheless can say that high-profile figures such as Jason Collins would be doing a true public service if they were to embrace and advocate the basic message summarized here.

May. 13 2013 05:27 AM
Chantal from Great Neck

I think this girl says it all --

May. 01 2013 03:05 PM
Broker Bill from Millerton, New York

In an OpEd column (Between Fear and Fantasy) in the Times on February 3, 1993, Ken Corbett, a clinical psychologist, wrote about the fear heterosexual military men have of the possibility of homosexual soldiers in their midst. Corbett points out that a heterosexual soldier "imagines himself the object of a man's desire. He anxiously pictures himself wanted in a way that most men feel only a woman should be wanted. In so fantasizing, he must, if ever so briefly, put himself in the place of a man who desires another man." One soldier was quoted as saying that he wouldn't be able to sleep at night if the ban on homosexuals in the military were lifted because he "would be worried that some homosexual is going to sneak over and make a pass". Corbett goes on to say that this soldier "thinks sneaky homosexuals cause his insomnia. But it is really his own fears and fantasies that keep him awake".

May. 01 2013 10:07 AM
Robert from NY NY

Who cares? He is not a star player. He is the 13th man on a 13 man team, at the end of a non-eventful career. This is in fact the event of his career, in which he averaged less than 4 ppg. The news media and Obama act like this is a Jackie Robinson like figure...which he is not. But one thing is sure, he will certainly get another contract because the team that rejects him will be accused of bigotry, and the team that signs him will look good.

May. 01 2013 03:49 AM

to- independent_noach- thanks for calling out,the purveyor[s] of ugliness, that is[are] "t&B" & "becky from bklyn"....

May. 01 2013 12:16 AM
kevin from ULS

if i might add: on a certin level,it's about the psychology of "cultural perpetuation". we straight men are uncomfortable with gay men;because, it's anomalous to BE comfortable with gay men. you don't get any real societal reinforcement cues,obvious or subtle;for being a straight male who also happens to be sympathetic to gay males.

Apr. 30 2013 11:01 PM
kevin from ULS

it's different, because women can have casual same sex relations,and for the most part;only right wing religious freaks get bent out of shape over it. for men,it's a whole different deal. many of the men who think bi and gay women are cool,at one and the same time shun and even hate gay men. at the very least, they are made uncomfortable by gay men. i think most hetero men struggle with this to varying degree.

Apr. 30 2013 10:44 PM

First: I didn’t catch all of the segment. Was statistically based researched cited regarding women’s more tolerant attitude to male homosexuality. Or was it sort of dominant assumption based on anecdotal experience, and the demographics of Glee veiwers? From my own experience I can not say how significant the disparity is. I’ve encountered plenty of women gender-sexuality normativity police (even if it’s a convoluted re-instantiation of dominant values e.g. opposing gay adoption for the expected trauma the kid’s will face at school. Fascism with good intentions). And plenty of ostensibly tolerant women sexuality-police who will accept difference so long as it allows itself to be interrogated, known and organized.

Second: It is rather courageous considering that he has not yet retired. Sports mobs are brutal. And the season brings him to all sorts of unfriendly venues. It would be like Mario Cantone doing a tour of the bible belt. @mckittenville draws an insightfull parallel.

To whatever extent such a tolerance gap exists, there is nothing evolutionary, biological or natural about it. The male brain isn’t evolutionarily wired to fear boners, or male (sexual) intimacy (e.g. our evolutionary predecessors (that sexual super-freak the monkey) licking and petting and humping the lazy tropical days away irrespective of biological sex dare I say species). The disparity is (largely) a cultural phenomenon (period) informed by the already much mentioned dominant ideologies surrounding gender identity (i.e. the still very much hegemonic male-female oppositional idealism). I don’t think they bear another repetition. And before we get to hasty heralding progressiveness in the media, celebrity sphere: let’s remember not to collapse mass-culture with popular-culture, or forget that “naturalizing” the male-female opposition is the most popular form of massively reductive thought (from the street to the ivory tower).
(Continued below…)

Apr. 30 2013 02:24 PM

Gender, sexual desire (even the phenotypics of biological sex!) are all complex qualitative continua. It is the gift and curse of language (representative function) and abstract thought to lend/impose (relative) representative-interpretive structure to the infinite flux of qualitative possibility; and to impose more or less reductively and with more or less interpretive charity. I think America is somewhere in between in between Thailand and Pakistan (by and large). I may be mistaken.

This is not an observation unfamiliar to even some the daftest observers of the human condition. It is the oppositional (idealistic) ghost that prods on an unhealthy idealism aided by the seduction of words and poverty of thought.

The problem is conflating a relative emergent structure with the abyss/nothing. Difference and Paradox (the conditions of thought) with contradiction. This is the dark intellectual failing of the nihilist teenager. “If I’m not pure manly, what am I?” Obviously this is occurring socially/interpersonally, through interactional events, perceived and “real” threats to one’s identity/face as a man, etc. and perceived, expected social consequences, of not adequately instatiating one’s manliness. It’s not easy articulating a more complex thought in such a dominant reductive teenaged intellectual climate. Furtunately it seems to be shifting according to poles. But meat and potatoes, that’s what it is.

Words are not nothing, or lies, they are all humans have. Our Identities are contingent/emergent. You’re identity is negotiable. You’re thoughts unoriginal. You are inter-subjective: so gay. You’re not that manly. You’re not that “real”. You’re not that badass. There is no absolute natural order/meaning/truth structure. And I hate to paraphrase Ron White but, “you’re probably more than a little gay”. It can get better. Grow up. Know thy self, be intellectually honest, and above all else don’t be a wus, keep it real, boldly venture into the unstable terrain of the emergent world. Hehe

Apr. 30 2013 02:19 PM

BTW, regarding my example of Lynne Stewart (My earlier spelling of "Lyne" was incorrect), I did not mean to imply that I endorse her work. Much of her ideology and positions, certainly, are repugnant to me. Nonetheless, what I or anyone else may think of her is irrelevant here.

-Either we are governed by the Rule of Law or we are not. One must be consistent.

- This story, of Lynne Stewart's treatment in prison, is worthy of coverage on WNYC (regardless of one's position on the case)

Apr. 30 2013 01:35 PM

@"Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn", Apr. 30 2013 11:06 AM:

"There's an "off" switch on your radio."

Is this the same "Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn" who, just a little earlier, posted the following:

"Why do they have to make an announcement? I really don't care! and then the media runs this nonsense for days....smdh!!" (Apr. 30 2013 10:02 AM)

"What bothers me is that his sexual orientation should make news.[....]"Anyway, enough of the sexual orientation news and on to things that really matter in this world." (Apr. 30 2013 10:38 AM)

If so, then before you direct a condescending admonition at /someone else/, it might be a good idea to first make sure you're not in blatant violation of it /yourself/.

Apr. 30 2013 01:00 PM

@Martin Chuzzlewit, 9:54 a.m.:

1.) As reprehensible as Barack Obama may be, isn't he still the constitutionally elected* President of the United States of America?

Can't you at least refer to him as such?

(*Granted, we have the best "democratic republic" that money can buy, but still, to the extent that /anyone/ can be considered duly elected...)
Do you really not realize that your repeated "Barry" shtick makes it difficult for anyone to take you seriously?
(Having said that, I have to wonder how many of the same people who protest your disrespect for Pres. Obama, had no problem when President George W. Bush (no hero of mine either) was called all kinds of names.)

Word is that he doesn’t."

Meanwhile, on Monday's Democracy Now!*, Carlos Warner, attorney representing eleven of the Guantánamo prisoners, said,
(*Hypocrisy Now!; the worst news program-- except for all the others...)

"[...]half of these men[...]86 of the men are cleared for release, meaning that the government has said that not only haven’t they done anything wrong, but they’re not dangerous, that they could be released immediately. And they languish there in Guantánamo while the president is guffawing with, you know, the social elite in Washington."

"the president could end the strike if he took some time out of his busy schedule. He’s preparing for the correspondents’ dinner, and that drives us crazy because we see our clients dying. And in five, 10 minutes, he could at least make incredible progress on ending the hunger strike. And he has no will to do so."

Full transcript at:

Apr. 30 2013 12:25 PM

There's a parallel between pro sports and stand-up comedy. While gay women are allowed to enjoy mainstream superstar status (Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, Rosie O'Donnell), gay men simply aren't. No gay man in stand-up comedy has ever come close to achieving the success that Ellen, Rosie, or Wanda have. The issues may be a little different, but the end result is still the same. We forgive and can reward gender noncomformity in women, but we're a lot less tolerant when men do it.

Apr. 30 2013 11:53 AM
David from New Jersey

Let us bring some logic into the conversation as to why there are straight men who have a problem with male homosexuality.

If you think about it, there are many heterosexual men who have a problem with their heterosexuality. Straight men have been yanked in so many directions when it comes to their sexuality. They have been instructed very early in life as to what is acceptable when it came to their sexual orientation. If straight men showed too much interest in the opposite sex, they were chastised and persecuted for behavior that followed a natural instinct.

The result of controlling heterosexual males sexual behavior is that these males have no real sexual identity. The so called metro-sexual is the neutered male who is well controlled, which so happens to possibly be the majority of heterosexual males. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the sexual aggressive males that become outliers of society, most likely branded sexual deviants.

If a homosexual male comes out and says that they love and want to have sex with men it is accepted. It is assumed that straight men would like to say the same thing for women, but dare not in public. Could there be some jealousy here from heterosexuals of homosexuals? Homosexuals can sexually express themselves while heterosexual men are suppressed.

A thought.

Apr. 30 2013 11:11 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Noach: There's an "off" switch on your radio.

Apr. 30 2013 11:06 AM

I knew it!!! I knew it!!!

The moment I saw this headline, late last night, about Jason Collins "coming-out", my first thought was: I wonder how long it will take Brian Lehrer to be all over this story, "kvelling", "shepping nachas"...I placed my bets that it would be on today's show, tomorrow's if not and I was sure that, at the very latest, the week would not end without the story being covered on this show.

Well, here we are, not even 24 hrs. after the story broke and it gets not only _mention_ but an actual _segment_ on BL.

That's BL/WNYC for you: Never missing an opportunity to demonstrate how politically/sexually/culturally/racially correct, "enlightened", "progressive" and "hip"' they are...An opportunity to further the conflation of homosexuality (an /orientation/) with a /culture/ of depravity, centered around a gruesome, dangerous, anatomy-, physiology-, hygiene- defying /act/, and the whitewashing and effective promotion of said act.

Never mind that it is /homosexual/ males, THEMSELVES who are BY FAR the greatest victims of all this, as is attested-to and elaborated upon by such brave homosexual dissidents as Bill Weintraub ( ) and Rob McGee ( , , Mr. McGee is also a major contributor to the Wikipedia entry on Frot )...

In contrast...

Occupy Wall Street: only took BL how long before we heard any /mention/ of it on the show, let alone a /segment/, a /week/, two weeks?

Last week there was a Senate hearing on the drone program, reported to be the first-ever such event. Has there been so much as a /mention/ of this on BL?

When was the last time any mention was made on this show of Tomas Young? (the U.S. soldier who came back severely wounded from Iraq and spoke-out against that war and who has now made the decision to allow himself to die, to put an end to his constant misery.)

And, of course, we would /never/ hear /anything/ about attorney Lyne Stewart, currently rotting away of cancer in a jail-cell somewhere in Texas-- cancer that, according to Stewart's husband and physician-daughter, had been in remission but then spread throughout her body after treatment was delayed by the prison authorities...

And heaven forbid we should ever hear economics discussed from any kind of Marxist or socialist perspective....ever hear someone like Prof. Richard Wolff or Doug Henwood, both right here in NYC, on the show...

Yep, that's WNYC (and also NPR, the New York Times, along with the other mainstream, establishment media outlets): apologists for the establishment; gatekeepers and cultural termites.

Apr. 30 2013 10:50 AM
SB from NJ

I disagree with Brian's thought that an NBA team might sign Jason Williams because he has come out. A team isn't going to pay the kind of money NBA players make simply as a PR move; they'll sign him if they think he can help the team win.

Nike or other sponsors, on the other hand, may well want to sign a gay athlete to polish their corporate image.

Collins is near the end of his career and it's not clear that he'll end up with another team at all. My guess is that Collins coming out may have been a career move in the sense of looking toward his post-NBA career-- as a speaker, author, etc.

I'm glad Collins did this; as a Nets fan I've enjoyed watching him play, and from everything I've heard from players and sports announcers he's always been one of the good guys in the game.

Apr. 30 2013 10:41 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

What bothers me is that his sexual orientation should make news. It's none of our business. One's sexual orientation should be between (or among) oneself and one's partner(s) provided they are all CONSENTING ADULTS.

I'd be more concerned with exactly what kind of basketball player he is. He's played with 6 teams in 12 years. Would you hire someone who'd had 6 different jobs in 12 years?

Anyway, enough of the sexual orientation news and on to things that really matter in this world.

Apr. 30 2013 10:38 AM
SB from NJ

Just to set the record straight on something Brian said in the intro to the segment: basketball player Sheryl Swoopes was married to a man and had a child *before* she came out, not after (which is what Brian said).

Swoopes came out after getting divorced from her husband.

Apr. 30 2013 10:34 AM
Roland Nicholson, Jr. from Tampa,FL

I am a straight former football player.That is the least important aspect of who I am. My sexuality was never an issue with respect to football. Perhaps it may be wise to not focus so much on it.

Tampa, FL

Sent from my I Pad

Roland Nicholson, Jr.

Apr. 30 2013 10:24 AM
Gi from brooklyn

YES Ann, EA, and Mason-- so true, primal fear of rape...

Apr. 30 2013 10:20 AM

Straight guys, particularly sport oriented males, "gay" is considered too effeminate, too passive. Sex and life in general, for these individuals is all about subjugation and power. The notion of being subjugated is threatening to this control-oriented group.

Apr. 30 2013 10:20 AM
Henry from Manhattan

Women who play sports tend to be considered outliers. Also, athletic women may be assumed to be “butch” since they are engaging in an assumed masculine activity.

An assumed role for men are athletics and it’s a “manly” endeavor assumed would screen homosexuals out. There’s the notion that it takes “real men” to successfully compete, and “effeminate” homosexuals throw that perceived superiority off.

Apr. 30 2013 10:19 AM
GW from manhattan

Women can rape men saying that they cannot is a myth

Apr. 30 2013 10:18 AM
Burtnor from Manhattan

A gay male athlete is a bigger deal for media probably because:
1) for men the idea of sex between women is titillating and not necessarily threatening to femininity, but that between men is nearly always (except for down low men who deny their bisexuality) threatening to masculinity;
2) women's sexual expression and pleasure is just not as important culturally as that of men;
3) for men sex consists just of physical acts, but for women encompasses a range of emotions and behaviors;
4) there is no recognition of a continuum of sexual attraction within the population and within any one person -- it's either/or.

Apr. 30 2013 10:18 AM
john from office

Hetero males will watch two women in a sex scene and love it, but cringe if it is two men. I think it is hard wired into the brain.

The bigger story is that he is african american, for a balck male to come out in the macho world of sports is tough. He is brave.

Apr. 30 2013 10:17 AM
Robert from NYC

Men are men, gay or straight and straight men think that every gay man wants to mount them, be it as top or bottom and that scares the hell out of them... until, at least quite often, they are sure no one else sees it happen!! Curiosity killed the cat, but not always!

Apr. 30 2013 10:17 AM
Roy from Queens

@Martin: Life isn't all about your off-topic, jingonistic rants. The families of every soldier that dies DON'T necessarily want publicity, but that doesn't matter. You probably miss Bob Grant.

Collins, being an African-American athlete, is brave to "come out" because sports is one of few aspects where "men can be men". Time will tell if he gets on a new basketball team.

Apr. 30 2013 10:17 AM

In the media-- "girls kissing girls", "bi-curious" girls etc..--=hot , sexy
(example the song " i kissed a girl and i liked it") "Bi" women are still "real women"

Threesome of 2 women & 1 men is considered "hot" to most men. and in the media & reality shows.

"boys kiss boys??" that's gay! not cool for "real" men. The media never mentions threesomes with 2 men and a women, its generally "not cool"

Apr. 30 2013 10:17 AM
Brenda from New York City

Could not agree more w/ Brian's point about gender fluidity for women. That really is at the heart of so much of what we talk about when we talk about men's discomfort w/ homosexuality. You never hear of the Girl Scouts (or any other female organization) having issues w/ gay members.

Apr. 30 2013 10:16 AM
Susan from North Salem, NY

Ah, the male ego......thinking that everyone, straight or gay, is just dying to get them in bed.

Apr. 30 2013 10:16 AM
Robert from NYC

Ask this guy to define what is a "real man". Let me say that I will not believe one reason given here or anywhere by any straight man. They know not of what they speak. Straight men invented spin and live in a world of spin.

Apr. 30 2013 10:14 AM
Mason from Queens

A strong woman cannot rape a man. A strong man can rape another man. It is fear of rape. All men know that men are rapists

Apr. 30 2013 10:14 AM

Excellent,thoughtful question- see the Catholic church for answers.

Apr. 30 2013 10:13 AM
Gi from brooklyn

Sadly there is more of a "stigma' among straight men being less masculine... and god forbid- attracted to other men. Why? fragile MALE EGO?

Apr. 30 2013 10:13 AM
MG from Manhattan

Screw control! I don't mind women making passes at me ... who ever thinks that men do not want women to make passes at them is either a woman or ha ha dare I say Gay? :)

but seriously men do NOT mind if a woman covets us sexually the way we do women... if a woman wants to test that out they are welcome to try.....

Apr. 30 2013 10:13 AM
andy from manhattan

For some reason, men find more identity in their sexuality than women. I also think that the fact that there is a spectrum of sexuality really frightens those who aren't as sure about their preferences as they would have the world think.

Apr. 30 2013 10:12 AM
Ann from Upper West Side

Women get plenty of practice dealing with unwanted advances from boorish men and are familiar with how to handle it. Straight men don't have this experience.

Apr. 30 2013 10:11 AM

Homophobia (for straight men): the fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.

Apr. 30 2013 10:10 AM
Joe from Paterson, NJ

It's about control!

We men don't want to be the object who someone makes a pass at. It's uncomfortable no matter who puts us in that position (isn't it true that aggressive women scare many of us?).

Homos scare us because they can make a pass at us and be just as strong as us, and someone just as strong may not take 'no' for an answer.

We aren't as worried by women who say 'no', because we are bigger and can keep pushing the issue with not much fear of reprisal.

We have all the control in dating women, but lose much of it when a gay guy makes a pass at us.

Apr. 30 2013 10:10 AM
MG from Orlando

Remember Alexander the great? Considering that the Greeks Romans and Japanese had open homosexuality ( pre Christian) I have to say that it is cultural based on the Judeo Christian Muslim Bible babble...

Apr. 30 2013 10:09 AM
The Truth from Becky

Why do they have to make an announcement? I really don't care! and then the media runs this nonsense for days....smdh!!

Apr. 30 2013 10:02 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Barry Obama called this player afterward and, of course, made it public.

“President Barack Obama called Jason Collins on Monday to express his gratitude after the NBA player publicly announced that he is gay, two sources familiar with the call told The Huffington Post.”

Uh, Barry, you can quit pandering now ... the gay vote is already locked up.
(Actually, aren’t you the guy who DIDN’T support gay marriage until 6 months before your re-election?)

Word is that he doesn’t.

Apr. 30 2013 09:54 AM
Robert from NYC

Jason Collins rules!! Thank you Jason we are all with you. Welcome out here where the air is clear and we can all breathe better and with pride.

Apr. 30 2013 09:35 AM

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