Tim Hardaway's infamous anti-gay rant may have seen like it came out of left field, but John Amaechi has seen that much and more inside NBA locker rooms, where he says "homosexuality is an obsession among ball players." Man in the Middle, an autobiography of his life as a closeted gay man in the NBA, hits the book shelves today. In one passage, Amaechi describes the sexually charged yet intensely homophobic atmosphere:
The NBA locker room was the most flamboyant place I'd ever seen. Guys flaunted their perfect bodies. They bragged about sexual exploits. They primped in front of the mirror, applying cologne and hair gel by the bucketful. They tried on each other's $10,000 suits, admired each other's rings and necklaces. It was an intense camaraderie that felt completely natural to them. Surveying the room, I couldn't help chuckling to myself: And I'm the gay one.
Homosexuality is an obsession among ball players, trailing only wealth and women. The guys I played with just didn't like "fags"—or so they insisted over and over again. But they didn't understand fags enough to truly loathe them. Most were convinced, even as they sat next to me on the plane or threw me the ball in the post, that they had never met one.
The irony of Amaechi's memoir is that it directly confronts the inherent ignorance of homophobia in sports. This was exemplified by Hardaway and Philadelphia 76ers forward rookie player Shavlik Randolph, who said gay players were okay "as long as you don't bring your gayness on me." Their comments reflect their general insecurity with gays, assuming any encounter would be predatory and sexual. (And we've seen Hardway nude, sorry, not very impressed.) John Amaechi proves there were gays in the locker room ... and nothing happened.
Man in the Middle (Amazon)
Some Background ...NBA Reprimands Hardaway (Rod 2.0) No Coming Out Party for Amaechi (Rod 2.0) News: Will Demps on Gays (Rod 2.0) Charles Barkley on Gay Marriage (Rod 2.0) On the "Outside Looking In" (Rod 2.0) Out of Bounds (Rod 2.0) Rio Ferdinand Apologizes After "Faggot" Remark (Rod 2.0)