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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


It ain't that simple

Rev. Willie Wilson, who made
an insanely homophobic speech

Sexuality Disclosed, Ignorance Exposed

By Michael Wilbon
Friday, February 9, 2007; Page E01

Just as it would be a relief to arrive at the place in time when the color of the coaches in the Super Bowl matters not one bit, it would be fabulous to reach the day when a male athlete in a team sport doesn't have to worry about the reaction of declaring his homosexuality.

But that day isn't here just yet, as we found out this week now that John Amaechi has become the first former NBA player to publicly say he's gay. The reaction to Amaechi's announcement in advance of his soon-to-be-released autobiography, "Man in the Middle," is all over the place, from appropriate indifference to utterances that border on homophobic to, well, stock ignorance.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, in trying to make plain that a player's sexuality simply isn't important, said: "We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always, 'Have you got game.' That's it, end of inquiry."

While we knew Stern's approach would be enlightened, the diversity of his league is reflected in the diversity of opinion we've been hearing from players throughout the NBA, from the sensible to the idiotic. For instance, the 76ers' Shavlik Randolph, who likes to throw his religious beliefs in everybody's face, is quoted as telling reporters, "As long as you don't bring your gayness on me, I'm fine." And Steven Hunter of the 76ers said: "As long as he don't make any advances toward me, I'm fine with it. As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself as a good person, I'd be fine with it."

So clearly, not everybody is in line with Stern's thinking, which is why it's so difficult for male athletes in team sports to say they're gay. No, Amaechi isn't the first such athlete to go public. In fact, he's the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major U.S. team sports to openly discuss his homosexuality.

But they've all been former athletes, not active ones, which speaks to how difficult it is for men in team sports to deal with an issue essentially every other workplace in America deals with continuously. The fact that a great number of heterosexual male athletes actually believe they don't already share locker rooms and showers with gay teammates is laughable.

Black atheletes would drive an openly gay teammate out of the sport.

Wilbon acts like homosexuality is unpopular in only sports. It's unpopular in black culture. Any week of viewing Jerry Springer would show that. Where black men are called sick and disgusting for being gay. The now infamous Snickers ad had black athletes laughing in disgust as two men kissed.

Who the fuck is Wilbon trying to fool? Homophobia is as much a part of black male culture as sports. If you asked most black athletes how they would feel about being around gays, their answer would be little different than most black men. Which is: I don't want any faggots around me. Faggot, punk, cocksucker, queer are very commonly heard terms in black America, as is suck my dick.

We need to be honest. Athletes reflect the attitudes they are raised and surrounded with. And that is contempt for black gay men.

Of course, this has led to an explosion of AIDS in the black community. But why stop being ignorant when everyone else is.

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