At the same time national LGBT organizations and the gay and lesbian community have become embroiled in a major split over the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act without transgender protections, an unlikely person has emerged as an ally to trans youth: Tim Hardaway.
The former professional basketball player is much more infamous for telling a Miami radio station "I hate gay people, I am homophobic". That was eight months ago and apparently the formerly popular athlete has spent much of that time soul-searching. Hardaway has now become a volunteer at the YES Institute, a children's advocacy group based in South Miami and recently helped lead a discussion on safety and transgender youth. "He was so genuine,'' said Martha Fugate, the director of the YES Institute. "He gave the perfect answer."
There he was, in a classroom with about 40 people, mostly strangers and some of them gay, talking about the importance of education and awareness - pointing to himself as the perfect example of how attitudes can be reshaped with a little bit of knowledge.
"I just wanted to go in and get educated, that's all. Get educated on what I said and why I said those things,'' Hardaway [told] The Associated Press. "I'm working on understanding it now. I'm not really trying to make amends. I've been there trying to get help.''
It's an abrupt change of heart for the man who once boasted he would cross the street to avoid a gay person. After previously discounting the infamous anti-gay remarks as "just a comment", Hardaway now admits, "I had no idea how much I hurt people. A lot of people."
Hardaway's photo now appears on the groups website and his presence "is so valued [the YES Institute] released a letter earlier this month touting the work Hardaway has done."
Tim Hardaway's 180 degree turn on gay rights and homophobia—albeit contrived or genuine—is commendable. It's probably better to adopt a wait and see approach and watch him over the long term, but, if it's a genuine conversion, Hardaway could become a powerful role model. Who says a leopard can't change his spots?
More Tim Hardaaway here.
Contrite Tim Hardaway Now Embraced by Some in the Gay Community [Sports Illustrated]
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