Former pro-basketball player John Amaechi says that before he publicly came out, he braced himself for a tidal wave of negative publicity that never materialized.
"I underestimated America. I braced myself for the wrath of a nation under God," Amaechi told the annual convention of the Log Cabin Republicans, the GOP"s largest gay organization. "I imagined that it would be a firestorm, that it would be some insane number of letters demanding my deportation or my death."
Amaechi says that 95 percent of his recent correspondence was "overwhelmingly supportive and positive" but the remaining 5 percent has been "unbelievably, viscerally, frighteningly negative."
Among those negative reactions were the homophobic rants of former NBA star player Tim Hardaway, whose hateful remarks led to his disassociation with the league.
Unfortunately, Hardaway's public remarks may reflect the private sentiments of many professional basketball players. Amaechi says that ever since he came out in February, he has yet to hear from a single former NBA teammate. "Probably 30 of my former [NBA] teammates have my e-mail and my telephone contacts," he told the convention. "And probably 16 or so of those I was in regular touch with and there are probably 10 people who I have [on instant messenger]. And zero—nobody—who's active in the NBA has been in touch with me since the day I came out, despite the fact that most of them knew I was gay in the first place."
Amaechi also wonders why nba.com has never mentioned his sexuality when it was such a major sports story everywhere else. In his speech, Amaechi argued that sports was slowly gay and lesbian athletes, but he wasn't sure if this reflected society's changing norms, or, even if sports was an appropriate barometer.
"Let's face it, for the most part, the stereotype is that they—we—are dumb as rocks. So, I don't know if they are a terribly good group to be looked at as kind of indicative of societal change or as leaders in that respect."
"I Underestimated America" [Edge]
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