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04/19/2007


Tim Hardaway Turnaround: Becoming an LGBT Youth Advocate

In the months since Tim Hardaway reacted to John Amaechi's coming out by declaring "I hate gay people," comments that reverberated through the media and caused him to lose a place at the NBA's All Star Festivities, the former Heat player has been attending and working with the YES Institute, an advocacy center for LGBT youth.

HardawayAccording to the AP, "The group, founded in 1996, seeks to prevent teen suicides while boosting the self-esteem of children and keeping them free of violence and discrimination."

When he learned of the institute, Hardaway decided to check it out. Says the former pro: "I was scared out of my ... mind. I didn't know how they were going to act toward me. But you know what? They welcomed me with open arms. That eased a lot of my nervousness."

Hardaway says he wanted to take steps following the homophobic incident to change himself. He says he has not given interviews for many months because he did not want people to think his work with YES was a "publicity stunt or a quick fix to an image problem."

Says Hardaway: "I just wanted to go in and get educated, that's all. Get educated on what I said and why I said those things. I'm working on understanding it now. I'm not really trying to make amends. I've been there trying to get help. "I had no idea how much I hurt people. A lot of people."

Martha Fugate, the director of YES, has praised Hardaway in a press release: "Thanks to his honest albeit misguided reaction, Tim did find his way to YES Institute and the education he got was not just about others, but about himself. Because he is a role model, perhaps other people will also learn -- hopefully before bad consequences happen to them."

A contrite Tim Hardaway now embraced by some in gay community [ap via sports illustrated]

Background
Former NBA Star Tim Hardaway: "I Hate Gay People" [tr]


Howard Bragman: Helping Athletes Out...of the Closet

Outsports has a chat with publicist Howard Bragman, who has helped a series of high-profile athletes transition from closeted to openly gay in the public spotlight. This has made Bragman the "go-to" guy for jocks on the way "out". Bragman's clients have included Esera Tuaolo, Rosie Jones, Sheryl Swoopes, and most recently former NBA player John Amaechi. He has also been hired by Isaiah Washington to help the actor clean up after the Grey's Anatomy F-word incident.

Howard_bragmanBragman discusses how the John Amaechi story unfolded: "I was working backward from the date of ESPN the magazine and the book coming out. Then Leigh Steinberg calls me a week before the Super Bowl and asks, 'will you go to Florida and do P.R. for my party?' Here you put a publicist at a Super Bowl party, and there are 25 journalists there, and my eyes light up, and I say, 'Guys, I've got a big story. In a couple weeks, I've got a former NBA player coming out of the closet.' And they started writing about it virally. And that Wednesday is one of those days you never forget. His identity was out there, and I had a real fear that the story would go away, but ironically a lot of media outlets who said they weren't sure when I pitched the book, as soon as it went viral, they had to have it. And then it just went ballistic after that."

He also says he doesn't think he could ever rep Tim Hardaway: "I don't think I would. And I say that as the guy who reps Isaiah Washington. Because it's got to be about more than just the money for me. And before I signed Isaiah, we talked for a couple hours. We knew people in common, and I really feel like he screwed up, but I think it was a screw up instead of being a homophobe. I look at the situation where the guy has played gay roles in his career. And I think somebody who's truly homophobic wouldn't do that. But Tim Hardaway's a little different for me. I like to be someplace I'm proud of, in representation. With Isaiah, we have a chance to talk, to have a real dialogue. He's really beautifully positioned to have a real dialogue."

Much more over at Outsports...


Announcer Billy Packer Called on "Fag Out" Comment

In an interview with Charlie Rose on Friday, CBS college basketball announcer Billy Packer casually used the term "fag out" while joking about Rose being a runner for him in this year's Final Four basketball match-up. 'Good As You' has the video of Packer's comments.

Packer"Do you need a runner this Final Four?" Rose asked, "because I could jump on a plane and I could be there." Said Packer: "You always fag out on that one for me, you know. You always say, oh yeah, I'm gonna be the runner, then you never show up. But I’m sure they can find a place for ya. You've got all the connections in the world. You can go ahead and be a runner anyplace you want to."

The term, as defined by Urban Dictionary means "To bail on something, 'pussy out'" while WordWebOnline defines it as "exhaust or get tired through overuse or great strain or stress."

Outsports asked CBS Sports Vice-president of Communications LeslieAnne Wade about the comments. Said Wade: "I know he wasn't meaning to be insensitive at all. While it is a term that is in the dictionary, it was still a poor choice of words. I'm confident that he would agree that it was a bad choice of words."

I'd agree. And while it appears to be a colloquialism left over from the days of the dinosaurs (John Amaechi said "I can honestly say I have never heard that phrase used that way. Not in my entire life."), perhaps Packer deserves to be bent over the knee of Tim Hardaway and spanked until Hardaway "fags out".


Tim Hardaway Looks for a Second Chance

Tim Hardaway tells the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson that he'd rather "go straight to [a gay organization]" than attend "sensitivity training" for his remarks, and notes that the impact his anti-gay comments had on his business dealings ''hurt the most". He says he wants a second chance.

HardawaySaid Hardaway: ''People have been trying to kick me when I'm down. [The reaction was] very, very shocking. People saying my wife left me -- that's not true. My family is OK and my finances are OK. I'm looking for a second chance and trying to clean up my image. I haven't been in trouble with drugs or guns. I'm an upstanding citizen. Like I told my children, life is not easy. This is a big bump I have to overcome. I'm going to deal with it like a champ. I've got to make sure people know I don't hate gay people.''

Hardaway also said that a meeting he had with NBA commissioner David Stern was "encouraging and very positive." He attended a Heat game last week and is attempting to get back in the good graces of head coach Pat Riley.

Riley says he has left the door open to that possibility: ''We are a country and city that forgives. I'm going to reach out to him, but he's got to admit if there's a problem, he's got to fix it..I think people who know Tim know he's a good person.''

Hardaway made headlines in February when he told a Miami radio host, "Well, you know, I hate gay people. I let it be known, I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people. Yeah, I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world, or in the United States. So, yeah, I don't like it."


Tim Hardaway Out, John Amaechi In as Bald Guy Spokesmodel

Former NBA player John Amaechi, who recently announced that he's gay, continues to demonstrate restraint and good taste, even when noting that there's some amount of "karmic justice" in the fact that he has just signed to represent Headblade, a company specializing in products for bald men, while Tim Hardaway, employed for the very same position with rival company BaldGuyz, saw his sponsorship cut after responding to Amaechi's disclosure by saying "I hate gay people" to a South Florida radio show.

Said Amaechi: "I don’t feel any joy [at Hardaway's loss].

Headblade_amaechiThe ads featuring Amaechi will run in two basketball magazines, Hoop and Slam, and while HeadBlade is not a huge company, Amaechi's endorsement deal is being noted as a step forward in the acceptance of openly gay athletes by mainstream marketers.

What those marketers aren't looking for is controversy, notes the New York Times:

That aptly described what happened to Snickers, sold by the Masterfoods USA division of Mars, after it ran an ad during the Super Bowl. Gay activists complained about the spot, which showed two men who had accidentally kissed reacting by harming themselves. Masterfoods withdrew the commercial, created by the TBWA/Chiat/Day unit of Omnicom.

“The problem is that it was conditioning, modeling behavior,” Mr. Amaechi said, by showing that “real men” were supposed to feel conflicted and horrified when two men kiss.

Asked if he would accept an offer to endorse Snickers, Mr. Amaechi replied: “I could show you how to react to two men kissing. Smile broadly.”

Gay Athletes Slowly Enter the Endorsement Arena [nyt]


Spin Control: Tim Hardaway Talks About his Hate Speech

Former NBA player Tim Hardaway, who shocked the sports world following John Amaechi's coming out by declaring "I hate gay people", has given his most extensive and revealing interview to date regarding the comments.

Hardaway_1He tells longtime friend Scoop Jackson of ESPN:

"...it was just the wrong choice of words. It came out of my mouth real crude and real bad and real ugly. And people think that that's the way I feel. That I hate [gay people], and I don't. I don't condone what they do, but I don't hate them. But that's how it came out...I should have been smart about what I was saying and how I expressed my feelings because I offended a lot of folks. And not knowing the magnitude on how this all escalated. I mean, I offended my family, my friends, the NBA, the gay community, people I don't know, the [Miami] Heat organization. I realize that I offended a lot of people and caused a lot of friction on a touchy subject. And now it's my job to make it right."

Hardaway tells Jackson: "I still don't accept their lifestyle. No." and says that when he sees gay people on the streets of Miami "I just get away from it. I just walk away. I see it, I just go the other way, cross the street."

He adds: "When we was growing up Scoop, if we saw gay people or whatever, we ran across the street. We got away from them. Our parents, our friends, our families knew that that wasn't right. We didn't want to be around that and they definitely didn't want us kids around it. And it's not that they hated gay people, they just felt they it wasn't right. Let them do what they want to do. And that was my experience when I was growing up. Not acknowledging them. Now did something happen to me? No. But I did have a friend that something happened to him in a Catholic school, but that is another can of worms that it's not my place to open because it's not my life. But to answer your question, 'No.' Nothing happened to me. I just don't condone [being gay]. When I see gay people holding hands or kissing in the streets, I just don't think that's right."

Hardaway2Hardaway says that the past couple weeks have been "pure hell" and he worries someone will physically harm him or his family.

What he doesn't seem to realize, however, is that his fears are felt by gay people all the time as a consequence of hate speech which condones intolerance and facilitates violence.

The one bright spot in the interview is that the incident seems to have opened Hardaway's eyes a little to the fact that there are gay people all around him:

"Maybe I could go to therapy, maybe someone can help me out with understanding [them], the sensitivity of the issue. But as a person, my beliefs are my beliefs. I don't have to condone it and I don't have to be around it. But I don't have to hate it either...Right now, learning. Learning that gay people are really no different than a lot of other people. Learning that they work hard, they do things in the community, they are responsible for building parks, rec centers, providing safe environments for kids, just things I had never associated with them before. [This last week] has opened up my eyes to the gay population and what they do. I'm getting a lot of knowledge about them that I didn't have. Which is going to make me a better person. And if it doesn't, then I'm a damn fool."

After reading his comments, it appears to me that Hardaway's homophobia is a classic case of the 'fear of the unknown'. Visibility is of the utmost importance in spreading tolerance. That is why it's important that news anchors come out, that celebrities come out, that politicians come out, that athletes come out. There should be many more John Amaechis.

The full interview is well worth a read.

You may have missed...
Tim Hardaway's Gay Spinout: North Miami Mayor, All-Stars React [tr]
Former NBA Player Tim Hardaway: "I Hate Gay People" [tr]
Former NBA Player John Amaechi on Outside the Lines: I'm Gay [tr]
Amaechi: Hardaway Anti-Gay Comments "Illustrate the Problem" [tr]
Tim Hardaway's Gay Hate Speech Brings Swift Reaction [tr]


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