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Black Athletes And The Effects Of Their Sexuality

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There are two worlds created for athletes: one for the men and one for the women. The two realms are created because of the socially constructed characteristics of gender. If a man participates in a woman’s sport or visa versa, controversy is created. In addition, the question of an athlete’s sexuality comes into play. Randy Boyd, a black gay columnist at Outsports.com stated, "You’re black, you’re an athlete, you’re a Man with a capital M, and this is what you do, follow the script that has been given to you.” Many individuals also assume that all female athletes are lesbian. In today’s society an athlete playing a non-traditional sport for his or her gender takes on a large amount of criticism from both players and spectators. Sports have been built on the skill of the athlete. Now athletes have to maintain skill, public admiration, and a low key profile about their sexuality. Today’s representation of black sexuality does not suggest different from Hooks and West but is portrayed negatively in sports through examples of the black athletes.

Cornel West, author of Race Matters, describes sexuality as a topic that isn’t talked about within both white and black America. Within our society, sexuality is considered a taboo and is looked down upon with disgust. “Needless to say, many white Americans still view black sexuality with disgust. And some continue to view their own sexuality with disgust.” (West, 515) Professional sports considered a business, and within a professional atmosphere, sexuality is something that remains concealed. Looking at African Americans in sports, the athlete’s sexuality is also looked at with disgust. Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team was viewed with disgust because of the way they looked during their NCAA championship game earlier this year. Don Imus, a radio talk show host, called the team “nappy-headed hoes” after their loss in the game. He also referred to their rough appearance due to their tattoos. Many people automatically assume that female athletes are lesbian. A sports editorial on blackathlete.com shares the personal opinion Demettria Richardson. She admits that she was “guilty of negatively stereotyping woman who play in specific sports.” She also stated that she “thought all women who played basketball were gay.” In addition, many black male athletes have issues, at times even worse. Coming out of the closet is something difficult for athletes of all colors. Marlon Riggs, filmmaker of BLACK IS...BLACK AIN'T, provides an up-front examination of racism, sexism, and homophobia within the black community itself. It ties together personal stories, interviews, music, history, and performance. The film constantly shows a black man running naked through the woods. It symbolizes the struggle black men go through in order to show their masculinity and stabilize their sexuality within society. Through the film, it is evident that the black community has been stereotyped by blacks and others as well. Riggs also mentions the “black monolith” which is the black experience in America. Rapper, Ice Cube said, “Real niggas aren’t gay.” It suggests that the black experience is something safe and comfortable, and if you step out of the box, you may be referred to as a “bitch” or a “sellout.” In sports, this image would make you look as you were too вЂ?soft’ to complete at the highest levels.

Most black athletes have had negative experiences in coming out to the public about their sexuality. For example, Glenn Burke, the first professional athlete to come out was run out of the Los Angeles Dodgers team in 1979. Twelve years later he was reported to be living on the streets, addicted to drugs, and later dying of AIDS in 1995. On the contrary Derrick Peterson, an American champion 800 meter runner was given much praise for coming out into the public about his homosexual lifestyle. The sex of sports has an historical structure of homosexuality, but times have changed, and so have personal preferences.

In addition, sexuality is also a delicate subject when it comes down to physical positive affirmations. It is common for male athletes to wish luck, or congratulate in a physical manner. For example, team members and coaches often give public affection such as hugs, kisses, and butt slaps. In 1988, Los Angeles Lakers player Magic Johnson and Detroit Pistons player Isaiah Thomas made history when they began kissing each other before their basketball games. It is a way to help the team out, to motivate us, somewhat like a family relationship, between

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