Basketball | Charles Barkley | Discrimination | News | Sports

Charles Barkley Speaks Out for LGBT Civil Rights: 'God Bless The Gay People. They Are Great People.'


During yesterday's pre-game show before the Celtics-Magic game, TNT did a special tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Toward the end of it, former NBA MVP Charles Barkley spoke out in favor of ending discrimination against gays and lesbians, as well as Hispanic people.

Toward the end of a segment on King, Barkley said of MLK: "You know, people try to make it about black and white. He talked about equality for every man, every woman. We have a thing going on now — people discriminating against homosexuality in this country. I love the homosexuality people. God bless the gay people. They are great people."


Barkley has spoken out for marriage equality in the past. In February 2008 he blasted "fake Christians" for going after gay people who want to get married. And in August 2006, Barkley also spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. @justiceontherocks: Thank heavens for the cult of masculinity known as football, right? If it weren't for football and basketball, where would our Black folk find employment, and our gays acceptance?!

    @DG: Teehee! Why, thank you! When Mr. Barkley doesn't speak for the actual "rest of us," we have to speak for ourselves! ;D


    The Bunny Gives Us a Lesson in Eternity

    We are a sad people, without hats.
    The history of our nation is tragically benign.
    We like to watch the rabbits screwing in the graveyard.
    We are fond of the little bunny with the bent ear
    who stands alone in the moonlight
    reading what little text there is on the graves.
    He looks quite desirable like that.
    He looks like the center of the universe.
    Look how his mouth moves mouthing the words
    while the others are busy making more of him.
    Soon the more will ask of him to write their love
    letters and he will oblige, using the language
    of our ancestors, those poor clouds in the ground,
    beloved by us who have been standing here for hours,
    a proud people after all.

    --Mary Ruefle

    Posted by: Joey | Jan 18, 2011 1:37:51 PM

  2. Joey,

    appreciate your comment and insight, but where Charles Barkley comes from the only distinction between gay and transgender is how one looks. The late transwoman, Octavia St. Laurent calling herself "gay" is no different than John Amaechi calling himself "gay"--where Sir Charles comes from, and where I come from.

    Transgender is a much broader term than people seem to realize. Gay is a much broader term than people seem to realize. Maybe that's why so many of us don't like each other.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 18, 2011 1:43:12 PM

  3. Quit trying to make cisgender happen, Gretchen.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 18, 2011 1:46:34 PM

  4. Joey,

    I'll wade into this 'cause I really, really want to understand your point of view. How are racism, misogyny, & ableism issues that specifically effect our community? Clearly they should be fought, challenged, and turned back at every turn, but they're issues that effect the whole of society, not only queers. As opposed to marriage rights, DADT, & ENDA which clearly are issues that effect (and benefit) ALL of US equally, not just "the most privileged among us"?

    The libertarian in me can't comprehend how fighting for equality in law for all of us perpetuates "hierarchies of oppression", rather I feel it does exactly the opposite. The goal is to create a level playing field for all of us (gay, straight, black, white, disabled, etc) so individuality and queer can flourish.

    Please enlighten me.

    Posted by: AJ | Jan 18, 2011 1:50:25 PM

  5. @Derrick: While I can certainly agree to your points about the breadth of the terms "gay" and "transgender," problems arise when lumping the experiences of different groups together. What, for example, about heterosexual trans folk? They certainly don't want to be called "gay"; they want their heterosexual identity to be respected, and indeed, calling them "gay" can undermine their trans identity.

    Also, the suggestion that Barkley or anyone else can tell the difference between gay and trans folk based on "how one looks" isn't quite accurate...there are plenty of gay folk who pass as straight and trans folk who pass as cis, so the use of "looks" in general isn't going to work out.

    @Crispy: "Cisgender" has been around for quite some time now and is known to enough people to be a highly useful term. But I understand that you're scared to be labeled, because any kind of labeling of the dominant identity threatens privilege, right? That's why the straight folk resisted being labeled for so long—it opens them up to study!

    Posted by: Joey | Jan 18, 2011 1:58:37 PM

  6. @AJ: This is an outrageously complex subject that I don't really have the energy to address in full, but I can certainly try to give you some kind of answer.

    The reason you're having trouble comprehending all of this is because your logic is based on an untruth: the things for which the modern gay/"LGBT" rights movement fights do not "effect (and benefit) ALL of US equally."

    How does DADT benefit trans folk, who can still be discharged for "cross-dressing," having "Gender Identity Disorder," or having gender-affirming surgeries or hormone therapy?

    How do marriage "rights" benefit Black queers? "[A]ccording to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites" ( If straight Blacks aren't marrying—and thus not gaining access to the many "perks" of marriage—it makes sense that Black queers aren't going to, either.

    The reason we look at racism, misogyny, and ableism (amongst many other things) at the same time as homophobia/heterosexism, etc., is because oppressions intersect: the experiences of queers with disabilities, immigrant queers, queers of colors, etc., are profoundly different from one another and CERTAINLY from white/etc. queers.

    Today's gay rights movement for "equality" is about making privileged gays equal to privileged straights, and perhaps trickling down some benefits to lower queers. (But I can assure you the queer immigrant would prefer comprehensive immigration reform to just the Uniting American Families Act, which isn't much use if your partner doesn't have citizenship privilege to begin with.)

    When you pour hundreds of millions of dollars into "marriage equality" campaigns across the country, you suck both funds and media attention away from fights to provide accessible housing, employment, etc. to low-income queers and queers of color, as a brief example. Thus, the mainstream gay rights campaign HURTS many queers.

    And when you say you fight for "LGBT" rights but don't even understand the struggle of trans folk to create accessible ways to change their names and legal sex, or to avoid being funneled into the prison-industrial complex, you're hurting trans people.

    Basically, when everyone dukes it out, fighting for JUST THEIR rights, identity politics-style, all we're doing is trying to scramble the ladder of privilege, which involves either not helping others up or actively kicking them down.

    Some of us—myself included—argue for a coalitional model...indeed, a SOCIAL JUSTICE model (I know: that's anathema to most libertarians!) that seeks to bring people of all identities together to fight for common issues, and when issues of concern diverge, to fight for each other. Thus, although I am neither trans nor disabled, I fight to create restrooms accessible for ALL bodies and minds. And in return, I expect trans folk and people with disabilities to fight alongside me for immigration reform and universal (TRULY universal) health care.

    I know I didn't address a lot of your question, and that I made some rather inflammatory statements to speed things up, so I apologize for all of that. Nonetheless, I hope my response is at least partially elucidating.

    Posted by: Joey | Jan 18, 2011 2:27:21 PM

  7. Barkley has spoken out on gay rights on TV in the past. I'm always impressed by his passion on the issue. He's exactly the kind of 'mainstream' figure who we need speaking out. His influence among young african american men is particularly significant.

    Let's skip the thread hijack on other issues and just say 'thanks Charles, we love when you speak out and please keep doing it'!

    Posted by: dw | Jan 18, 2011 2:39:18 PM

  8. @DW

    I agree a simple thank you to Sir Charles will suffice. And he almost always speaks his own damn mind, his statements are not reflective of any community, really.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jan 18, 2011 2:41:53 PM

  9. @JOEY

    Thank you for your excellent posts. Very educational for me.

    I am not well-educated on the issues of those down the ladder from me. In fact I wasn't very acutely aware there was anyone down the ladder from me. But of course there are. And I actively kick them down the ladder (a confession). I'm one of the privileged gays: white/cisgendered/abled etc. Just looking for privilege to extend a little further down the ladder to include me.

    When and if that happens though, I won't turn my back on the rest. I hope I'll be reaching a hand down. You'll hopefully have more allies in some of us newly minted gay members of the privileged club. And that should make it easier for some of these acronyms I never even heard of before.

    It really is a slippery slope. Once they let us in, many of us will be looking to let you in too.

    I hope your feelings aren't that I shouldn't be looking for mine until you get yours too. We can better help from one rung up. And Charles Barkley is, surprisingly to me, helping us up to that rung.

    Posted by: Dave L | Jan 18, 2011 2:43:04 PM

  10. Well, Dave, I don't completely agree with your perspective, but I think you are definitely on the right path, and thank you for your kind words! I certainly wouldn't turn you down as an ally.

    Anyhow, here is a little something from the Chicago-based Transformative Justice Law Project ( that might be of use to you and others:

    Action steps to checking privilege!

    1) Acknowledge that the privilege exists,
    2) move away from immobilizing guilt,
    3) understand that your privilege will not go away until the root systems that give you privilege are abolished,
    4) be an ally to communities you are not a part of,
    5) recognize how and why your privilege can destruct community empowerment,
    6) use your privilege to benefit groups you are not a part of,
    7) educate others with your privilege to check themselves, and
    8) call people out and embrace being called out about privilege.

    Posted by: Joey | Jan 18, 2011 2:50:40 PM

  11. Somewhere along the way from oppression to acceptance, people start to articulate not just that so-and-so's deserve equal rights but that so-and-so's are appreciated, for their contribution and for themselves.

    Posted by: BobN | Jan 18, 2011 2:54:46 PM

  12. Joey,

    I second DAVE L's sentiments about your contribution here. Thanks. We've discussed this issue many times before on this blog. Your perspective on transgender people's (and some of their particular issues) relationship to the gay civil rights movement were really informative.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 18, 2011 3:07:39 PM

  13. @Joey

    I participate in all too many of these privilege discussions and wasn't really looking for a discussion right here but I do have to say that I like #6 &7 on your list a lot although...simply because people are not likely to listen when a minority speaks out (oh, ______________ are all so bitter and angry). Ears perk up when it's a member of the majority that speaks out although...

    Even members of the majority have a rough time. In fact, I think that it's during those rough times that even majority advocates for _______________ really get it.

    Don't want to sidetrack, but I just wanted to comment on that.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jan 18, 2011 3:28:07 PM

  14. Joey: I found many of your posts to be informative, though I may challenge you on a few points, and perhaps, if I may, pick your brain on some others.

    I've been involved in grassroots organizing for several years, and while I agree that the "coalition model" is the most beneficial in theory, it is difficult to implement in reality. The organization I helped co-found tried to set up a "coalition" representing the Latino community, communities of color, the transgender community as well as the usual suspects that often come to mind when mentioning "LGBT". Unfortunately, we were met with resistance. I was told by one local leader that "This sort of things has been tried before and it doesn't work."

    My question is then: Do you, as someone who appears to not be directly in the "privileged" group, have suggestions on how we might reach out to be better representative?

    I also challenge that simply fighting for "equality" (which is a broad umbrella term) means that we are seeking to push others away from the figurative ladder. Has the gay establishment left many in the dust? Absolutely, however, there are those of us out there that do want to see every person (regardless of whatever "ism" you want to suggest) have the same access as those at the top of the hierarchy. I understand the history and the distrust of some of those that are higher on the hierarchy (fair disclosure, I am a white, gay male, though I'm in my mid-20's so I was never part of the usual establishment that draws so much ire), but I don't understand why those, such as myself, that are actively trying to push away from those actions and build bridges, are so often rebuffed.

    I do appreciate your posting of the "Action Steps". They seem similar to those of Peggy McIntosh in her essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (available here: -- I'd highly recommend reading it as it can be applied across different spectrums of privilege).

    A final note: earlier post mentioned that Mr. Barkley did not mention an "inclusive" or "exhaustive" list of our community. But can you expect him to, when he was merely voicing some support. He is not a scholar on the subject, much the same as I have limited knowledge of oppression in other communities. I actively try to understand other oppressed communities, but I may not know the intricacies and labels and proper terminology. His words were kind, lets be grateful to have an ally, even if he wasn't so graceful on the delivery.

    Posted by: Jeff Schade | Jan 18, 2011 3:29:37 PM

  15. yeah I have to say Charles Barkley's choice of forums is interesting. but I applaud his willingness to do so. Thanks Charles!

    Posted by: Sean | Jan 18, 2011 3:32:37 PM


    He's good people. Anyway, queer theory/oppression theory...ain't it interesting?

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 18, 2011 3:45:38 PM

  17. Well, I posted a response, Jeff Schade...perhaps it just hasn't shown up yet. But if it doesn't, know that I tried! Ha *sigh*

    Posted by: Joey | Jan 18, 2011 4:42:36 PM

  18. amennnn!!!!Charles!!!!!

    Posted by: sal | Jan 18, 2011 8:04:17 PM

  19. Wow indeed! Thank you Mr Barkley.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 18, 2011 9:39:38 PM

  20. Joey: It looks like your response did not show up.

    Posted by: Jeff Schade | Jan 18, 2011 10:59:36 PM

  21. First of all, Why do I think Joey is Tank.

    And further more all of this over a Black Man who voice support for our community. So this white queen has to disect what he said and not be appreciative of the effort instead. Maybe he just should have acted the way alot of folks in the community would expect of African Americans.

    HOMPHOBIC then everything would be normal.

    My God what more do you want?

    Posted by: CHRIS | Jan 19, 2011 12:41:49 AM

  22. It has been several weeks now, and I have not seen one media report, one spokesperson, ANYONE mention the fact that one of the most racist and discriminatory regions on Earth was just awarded the FIFA World Cup. Not one mention. Qatar will jail you for being homosexual. The Middle East treats people from the sub continent as sub human. Qatar wants to hold games in Saudi Arabia where you can be killed for being gay! So where is the outrage here? All seems to have been swept under the carpet. Apparently it is OK to allow these disgusting laws if you control the oil huh?

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 19, 2011 3:09:23 AM

  23. "white gays (are)...seeking to uphold white supremacy..."

    Joey go back to your ivory tower. It is obvious that you do not actually do organizing work on the ground, because it never starts by pointing fingers of hatred at beautiful people. Your statements are racist, mastubatorily-intellectual, and nonsense in their sweeping generalizations.

    I presume you're a white gay, crushed by some kind of guilt, who does some kind of work moving words around on a computer screen, and does not deign to dirty your fingernails out on the streets working for real people. right? I'm a former gay activist, now a trade unionist, dedicated to uplifting the least among us, and the best part of my life is that i get to call out self-important 'creative class' academics who huff and puff their own little internal rages. like you.

    PS--god bless charles barkley! (i mean, gaia nurture him.)

    Posted by: Joey this is nonsense | Jan 19, 2011 11:01:25 AM

  24. Wow, my hats off to a man (a black one no less in what is arguably still a homophobic sport) to use MLK Day to speak up for civil rights all....not just for race. Great to see that he has the courage to do this without worrying about whether this offends others. Only wish other people like Oprah would also use this day to make MLK day not just about blacks.

    Posted by: cf511 | Jan 19, 2011 2:36:16 PM

  25. Thanks, Charles!!! You rock.

    Posted by: sports fan | Jan 19, 2011 6:22:49 PM

  26. « | 1 2 3 »

Post a comment


« «Watch: Black LGBT Groups March in L.A. MLK Day Parade« «