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My Distortion-Phobic Rant Against Matt Walsh

May 16, 2014

Since we’re rapidly approaching a point where mainstream American opinion is generally supportive of gay rights, it’s fallen to the newly self-appointed outsiders to ridicule the practice of the mainstream acting like the mainstream by having its mainstream opinion heard.

At present, the desperate crusade has its personification in Matt Walsh. I don’t know much about this dude, and a quick internet search has turned up little besides the fact that he has a blog and that he taught polysci at MTSU.

His viral blog post, which has been shared via my Facebook feed, is titled “This is My Homophobic Rant Against Michael Sam.” The post details the inherent disgrace in the celebration of Sam’s barrier-breaking NFL entry.

The title is intended to be sarcastic, as the author anticipates being blasted for daring to have a contrary opinion about Sam’s historic draft pick in the NFL. In so doing, he paints himself as a rebel for daring to not share in this liberal-engineered media hysteria.

So, in a cruel reversal of intent reserved for those who don’t have a grasp of context, his title isn’t at all sarcastic. He refuses to call being gay “being gay” or allowing it any credence as a marginalized status. He refers to it variously as “carnal propensities,” “what he does in the bedroom,” “erotic activities,” and “sexual desires.” In other words, he invokes the most sexually-charged lingo he can get away with without being overtly gratuitous, to cater to the residual disgust that any reformed homophobes might have, lest they be tempted to take part in this celebration. So it ends up coming across as obviously homophobic, and just as obviously a rant. Points deducted for improper execution of sarcasm.

[Let’s also put it out there that his many descriptive forays into Sam’s bedroom come across as voyeuristic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it kind of undermines his integrity. There’s no reason for an article not in Cosmopolitan to use the word “sex’ that many times. Eight to be exact, not including the other descriptive innuendo.]

The article itself, though, is plenty ironic. As he portrays himself, Walsh is a rebel. I’m quite sure he’s the first straight white male to turn up his nose at someone different and makes his disdain at that someone and that someone’s supporters publicly known. Straight white males have always been so reticent about that kind of thing.

Yet his thesis is that Sam is unequivocally unheroic for being the first and ONLY pro football player to make it publicly known that he is not straight. Michael Sam, the gay, black male asking to be accepted into a hyper-masculine sport not known for its cerebral progressive types (“ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOT-BAWWL?”) has earned no admiration. Matt Walsh, a white male blogger who isn’t particularly stoked about the whole affair, is a counterculture standard bearer, braving the stinging arrows of the bleeding heart wussies.

Then, to get the Christians riled up, Walsh contrasts the “acceptance” of Sam’s gay demonstrations (notably, the kiss with his boyfriend on ESPN upon being drafted) with the calls for Tim Tebow to pipe down about his Christianity.

How accepting the public is of Sam and of the Kiss is up for dispute. Walsh, in underdog mode, paints the liberals as Twitter trolls finding the “random” tweets of disagreement with the televised kiss, then turning around and calling those who were disgusted “bad people” in his own set of quotation marks. Apparently finding love disgusting is not “bad” enough for Walsh. I guess the liberal Twitter crowd will have to limit their negative remarks to mass murderers in the future. You know, something a little more clear-cut.

Pardon me for one moment while I address Mr. Walsh directly.

Dear Mr. Walsh: there are no phantom “random” sprinklings of anti-gay disgust in this nation being played up by liberals. When I stand on my own front stoop in my own neighborhood and find myself nervous and uncertain kissing my own partner goodbye for the day as I leave for work, I firmly believe it’s not because I’m paranoid and delusional. It’s because I’ve had it drilled into me for the past 41 years that there are things that you don’t do in public. When I was a kid, it was because it was “bad.” When I was a young adult, it was because it “wasn’t smart.” Now, it’s simply because some folks are ignorant and intolerant of people being comfortable as they are. But it’s still something my mind wants to tell me not to do.

As regards the Tebow comparison: I would guesstimate that 80-90% of NFL players are Christian. If all Tebow had been doing was proclaiming a Christian identity, he would have been roundly greeted with confusion. He might as well hold a press conferencing announcing that he had two nostrils.

Tebow was kneeling in prayer and printing Bible verses on his face. He was holding court on the field, practicing his faith and referencing its source material. Saying that this is somehow comparable to a statement of identity is absurd. Sam’s basic statement is “I’m gay. Deal with it.” Tebow’s basic statement was, “I’m Christian. Let me explain it and demonstrate it on the field.” There’s a difference.

The bottom line of Walsh’s rant is eerily similar to the whole “special rights” argument that not even hardline conservatives use any more (because it doesn’t make sense—asking for the same rights cannot ever be called special rights). Walsh claims that Sam is invoking a special kind of media and professional immunity from failure because of his elite gay status. (Somehow I managed to type that without breaking into laughter.) I guess from a business perspective you would call it Too Gay to Fail.

If Walsh were simply nonplussed, I would get it. It shouldn’t be a big deal, so let’s just say good for Michael Sam and move on. That’s a couple of steps away from the real world, but it’s an admirable sentiment.

That he depicts Sam’s identity, repeatedly, in overtly sexual terms, and then claims to have uncovered a liberal-queer-corporate alliance to silence all the wholesome conservative Christians who have the independence to think differently (read: the same as just about everybody in any position of power has thought about such issues over the past 300 years) is insulting to Sam’s experience and my experience.

So why do I care about what some random blogger has to say about this issue?

Well, it doesn’t really have much to do with him. I’m more concerned that I have at least two Facebook friends who were taken in by his half-assed reasoning. And thousands of others were likely seduced by this insidious attack on what should be a joyous moment.

I’m sure some killjoy lamented Jackie Robinson’s entry into major league baseball. More than a few people groused about the supposed historical importance of Obama’s presidency.

And in most cases, these folks weren’t just benignly irritable or irascible pessimists. They couched their arguments in innuendo aimed at the lowest common denominator. They were bigots.

Their historical appraisal will rarely yield favorable results.

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