Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Snickers, Dungy, and Barak...........Whats a fan to do??

The gay community is in an uproar again. While I am mostly outraged over this story that many noteworthy politicians have referred to Barak Obama as “articulate” my GLBT brothers and sisters are up in arms regarding the snickers ad campaign and Tony Dungy’s affiliation with the anti-gay Indiana Family Institute. As a black gay man and a huge Colts fan I find all of these situations to be a conundrum. This is quite a first hand example of why black GLBT people aren’t always on the same page as the general GLBT community. I, for one, am very proud of Tony Dungy and the accomplishments that he and his team have attained. The first black man to win a Superbowl is huge for me. I was one of the faithful 60,000+ fans in attendance at the dome on Monday night when we welcomed our world champions home. I have attended many Colts games in that dome and never have I been more proud to be a Hoosier, a colt fan, and a black man. The majority of those 53 men that came dancing in on floats to thunderous applause were black men just like me and they were being lead by one of the most upstanding, principled, and accomplished men of our time, Coach Dungy. My heart was with them.

During the Superbowl, which by the way had to be the gayest Superbowl ever, Cirque Du Soleil did the pre-game and Prince performed for halftime. It was a black gay mans tour de force. Anyway, I digress, during the game there was a snickers commercial where two men accidentally kissed. The gay community after much outrage was able to convince Snickers to pull the commercial and apologize. I saw the commercial and I wasn’t offended. The premise was the guys were straight and that’s what straight guys do when they find themselves in questionable situations. They have to convince themselves that they are still men (by their definition). I get it!

Now it has come out that Tony Dungy will be the guest of honor at a banquet for the Indiana Family Institute. This institute has led the fight against gay marriage and many other calls for GLBT equality under the law. I am disappointed that coach Dungy will be the featured speaker, but in the great scheme of things I am not sure where this issue ranks.

Just a couple of weeks ago we had GLAAD calling for the firing of Isaiah Washington from the cast of Grey’s Anatomy for referring to a cast mate as a faggot. There was a public outcry when Pittsburgh Steelers player Joey Porter called an opponent a fag, insinuating that he was weak. As a gay community we have a long way to go with regards to educating the general community on language sensitivity. However, as a black gay community I believe that we have to choose our battles carefully.

I believe the larger question for me and others who are like me is, am I more proud of Tony Dungy and the Colts for winning the big game or am I more disappointed that he will be speaking at the IFI banquet.

As we were leaving the dome on Monday my partner mentioned to me that he couldn’t believe all of those white people were showing so much love and respect for Tony Dungy. It was as if, in his eyes, Dungy had received something that too often in this world we as black people don’t get; respect! Sure in 2007 we have reached heights and social levels that our parents only dreamed of and our grandparents couldn’t imagine. However, we still have Joe Biden and George Bush referring to Barak Obama as “articulate” and “clean”. Inferring that for a black person to speak intelligently and take a bath everyday is rare. Racism through condescension is still prevalent in our society and we need to bring those issues to the forefront. How do I, in good conscience, berate a man who has blazed a trail for many black NFL coaches to come? How do I scold Isaiah Washington when there are too few positive images of black men on television today? In 2007 we should not find the prospect of a black president or a female president to be laughable, however many pundits believe that unless Hillary and Barak run as President and Vice President (in that order) they will essentially cancel each other out and any other old white man will win the race for the White House in 2008.

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and Seinfeld star Michael Richards racist remarks taught us one thing about the good old USA; race is still an issue that we don’t want to talk about. As a black person I feel that we need to do as much as we individually can to expose racial inequalities in this society. We also need to celebrate black people who are doing good work in this world. If along the way we can educate everyone on sensitive language and images that are offensive to some then we are better for it. However, I cannot at this time support any movement to denigrate the reputation of Coach Dungy. The problem is the Indiana Family Institute not the first black man to win a Superbowl.


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