USA: Pride Month 2018 Between Progressiveness and Regression

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USA: Pride Month 2018 Between Progressiveness and Regression

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of July 11, 2018) On June 30, 2018, Pride Month ended in the United States. Not all activities can be summarized succinctly here because the country is so large and the acceptance of LGBT people still varies greatly. Here are some of the topics that are somewhere between serious and anecdotal.

LGBT Pride in the Overdrive Libraries

LGBT acceptance naturally begins with education. This is why teachers and books are so important, and therefore libraries as well. In the past, books were often banned or withdrawn from circulation due to content that did not meet the heterosexual standard – but this is not our topic here.

In the United States, hundreds, if not thousands of libraries in schools, universities and communities use the Overdrive digital and multimedia inventory management system for lending e-books, audio books, magazines and streaming videos.

Librarians and other users of the service could hardly miss the fact that June 2018 was Pride Month in the USA: for over a month, an unmistakable banner on the home page invited users to borrow books on LGBT topics.

LGBT banner on Overdrive

Overdrive makes appetite for LGBT topics. (Screenshot)

All kinds of fiction and non-fiction were offered: Novels, short stories, narratives, history books, essays and activist texts, as well as a large number of audio books.

LGBT Banner on Overdrive

LGBT books: all genres are allowed. (Screenshot)

Overdrive has announced nothing about the success of the operation and its acceptance by users. By the way, Overdrive is a subsidiary of Rakuten, a Japanese group that is unlikely to propose such an initiative in its country of origin because LGBT equality is still in its infancy there.

Soccer player Collin Martin comes out of the closet

Even though European football (or soccer) comes second after American football in the USA: With Collin Martin (23), the first professional footballer came out as gay on June 29, 2018. He has been a midfielder for Minnesota United FC, a Major League Soccer (MLS) club, for two years and recently came out publicly on Pride Night, just a few hours before his team's match.

Tweet by Collin Martin

Collin Martin as an activist for the rainbow-colored football pitch (screenshot). 🙂

A very special midfielder

Minnesota United FC played FC Dallas that evening (and Dallas won). Collin Martin was only on the bench, but nevertheless his coming-out rocked the crowd, so that the sporty dimension of the event was virtually pushed into the background.

 

Immediately after his coming-out Martin indirectly asked other professional athletes to come out as well. His teammates have known “for many years,” as have his family and friends, and that has never caused any problems. That is why he thought the moment was right for him to come out.

I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer and that has made the decision to come out publicly that much easier.

Only one gay professional athlete is out of the closet in the USA?

This makes Collin Martin the first and only American professional soccer player to come out during his active career. His colleague Robbie Rogers came out immediately after withdrawing from professional soccer in February 2013. He returned to professional football a few months later, but retired for good in November 2017.

To date, no international football player in the world has come out during his active career, with the exception of British footballer Justin Fashanu, who committed suicide after a wave of homophobia.

Gay professional athletes who come out in the USA in more popular sports than soccer are extremely rare. The coming-out of American basketball player Jason Collins made headlines in 2013, as did that of American football player Michael Sam in 2014. However, Collins was then already at the end of his career and Sam’s sporting career was not in line with his talent. Both retired from professional sport in the end.

Who is Collin Martin?

So Collin Martin is the only active MLS soccer player who is openly gay. He is even the only openly gay professional player within the five major sports leagues in the United States (soccer, American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey).

Collin Martin

Collin Martin wrapped in a rainbow flag (screenshot). 🙂

Martin used to be a member of the national youth teams (U-14, U-15, U-17, U-20) but was never in the senior national team. He has played in various clubs and within the MLS, has been with Minnesota United FC (2017-2018) for two seasons.

With only 33 professional games in the MLS (plus 14 games in the USL) and relatively short playing times, he does not belong to the absolute top. However, he does not spend all his time on sports fields either, but is also studying history and is currently writing a dissertation on the American Civil War.

He came out to his friends and siblings at the age of 18-19 years already, but to his parents, who are both very religious, only at age 21.

In a long and exciting interview with Collin Martin by The Athletic, we learn that the number of his Twitter followers has increased tenfold only five days after his outing.

Why does a soccer player like Collin Martin come out, despite all the stress involved, and even though his sporting results could still be improved? Certainly not as a PR gag, but to motivate himself (and others) to tackle the “problem” of coming out in top-level sport, and ultimately to finally find the peace that is necessary for the development of his career and sports results.

We hope that he will be the first soccer player in the world to join the national team after his coming-out. But after the end of the current media hype he will probably have to work even harder than before.

Will the Supreme Court fall back into homophobia?

Donald Trump nominated conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh, aged 53, to succeed Anthony Kennedy, aged 81, who resigned as a Supreme Court judge in June 2018. The Senate has yet to confirm or reject Trump’s nomination.

If Kavanaugh becomes indeed the ninth judge of the Supreme Court, this will put the highest American court back on the right side of the political and social spectrum, because then five conservative judges will face only four progressive judges. His predecessor Kennedy was one of the “swing vote judges” of the institution, who, despite his conservative basic convictions, ruled in progressive ways sometimes.

Brett Kavanaugh's positions towards the LGBT community are by no means unfavorable. In his former position at the Appeals Court in Washington, he was always in favor of equal rights for LGBT persons, especially with regard to gay marriage.

But the right to marry is not the only demand of the LGBT community, and Kavanaugh’s nomination is worrysome on other issues. To confirm this, here is a television debate on a trial that helped lift the ban on gay marriage in California in 2010:

The problem with Kavanaugh is his recourse to religious values and pretexts to justify decisions on the right to abortion, labor law, access to health care and others.

Will Kavanaugh revert to “religious” pretexts to allow an employer to dismiss an employee just because he is gay? Or an insurer not to insure a lesbian couple? Or a pension fund that prohibits a same-sex spouse from receiving a survivor’s pension? Only time will tell.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) calls on the Senate to reject the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, particularly on the basis of his positions on the employment of transgender persons in the military and other discrimination against LGBTQ persons.

Comment: Even if the Senate rejects the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, it is quite possible that Donald Trump will propose an even more conservative candidate. Then nothing is won.

YouTube apologizes for appearing homophobic

On the last day of Pride Month, YouTube on Twitter boasted the “LGBTQ voices on [its] platform and the important role they play in the lives of young people”.

Right afterwards, but in much smaller letters, YouTube stated…

But we’ve also had issues where we let the LGBTQ community down—inappropriate ads and concerns about how we’re enforcing our monetization policy.

Obviously, three different issues have affected the blogger community on YouTube:

  1. Unsuitable contextual advertising. For example, in addition to an LGBT vlog, spots that are LGBT-critical or even completely homophobic.
  2. Less visible linking of videos with LGBT topics (sexuality, coming out, health & well-being, everyday life of trans people, etc.), or even the deletion of such links without prior notice.
  3. An end to the distribution of advertising revenue between YouTube and LGBT customers, again without prior notice.

These three things were either due to computer errors (software errors, bad algorithms, inappropriate settings) or human errors. YouTube does not give any further information, but claims to have taken appropriate measures in the meantime and apologizes somewhat half-heartedly:

We’re sorry and we want to do better.

Comment: So if we understand all this correctly, YouTube is a victim of its own algorithms… or what? And, of course, this has nothing to do with homophobia. Let's call it incompetence then. All this reminds us a bit of the time when Google Translate offered homophobic translations a while back…

Frank-S / MensGo

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