“Well, you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States. So yeah, I don’t like it.”
That was Tim Hardaway four years ago, in an interview with Miami’s 790 The Ticket, talking about John Amaechi coming out of the closet. He kind of apologized the next day. “I shouldn’t have said that I hate gay people or anything like that,” he said. “I should have just said I don’t condone him being in the locker room.” He probably shouldn’t have said anything. Hardaway was my favorite player growing up, and hearing him speak out against basic human rights for basic human people made my stomach hurt. I owned a Dream Team and a Golden State Warriors jersey with Hardaway’s number, and that’s not an easy thing for a kid to do in Virginia in the 90s. Here I am stuck telling people I loved Jud Buechler. Jud Buechler.
Four years later I’m proud to say my stomach is feeling better. Hardaway could’ve moved on with his life and done one of those “that’s just who I am, I don’t condone it” acts, but he’s done us one better. He’s not only okay with gay people being in the United States, he wants them to have what most folks in the United States take for granted. He showed up in El Paso, Texas this week to support to a group of politicians who are trying to be recalled by a religious group for their stance on gay rights.
In town for a golf outing, Hardaway attended a press conference urging citizens to oppose recall efforts against Mayor John Cook and city Reps. Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega. The three are being recalled by a group of religious conservatives who are angry the three voted to restore health benefits for gay and unmarried partners of city employees — despite a ballot initiative in November that had abolished them.
That’s about as apolitical as the gay rights discussion gets. Do you want these people to be taken care of when they get sick, yes/no? Hardaway wants to the people who are angry to come to the same conclusions he did between now and so very, very long ago.
“I would say grow up and catch up with the times,” he said. “It’s all around the world.”
The two comments posted on Ball Don’t Lie about this story sum it up nicely. The first, “Sometimes what you think is right is just wrong. Takes a real man to admit that. Good for Hardaway.” The second, “sell-out stand by your rules if it aint right it aint right”. I hope one of those makes more sense to you than the other. For those of you who can’t tell the difference, you can’t be my friend. And here I am having to be friends with Jud Buechler.