Brittney Griner — women’s college basketball superstar — came “out” several weeks ago in a Sports Illustrated interview, and Sunday had an op-ed piece in the NY Times, and Southern Baptist affiliated Baylor University still remains silent.
Giner was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, and was the first “openly gay” athlete to sign with Nike. A few days later, NBA player Jason Collins came out on the cover of SI. In her op-ed piece, Griner begins with Collins, saying she was “thrilled” with his actions. She mostly talks about her own experiences, of course, and looking ahead says, “It’s my job now to, I hope, be a light who inspires others.” Excerpts from Griner’s piece are below.
I live about 50 miles south of Waco, where Baylor University is located. Even if you have zero interest in women’s college basketball, or even sports in general, you could not have missed hearing of the Lady Bears and of Brittney Griner.
Baylor is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and so there will be no surprise that homosexuality is not acceptable at the university. And yet, at least publicly, there’s been no comments from Baylor about Griner’s coming out in the Sports Illustrated interview, or her op-ed piece. Over the last few years, it really wasn’t a secret that Griner is lesbian, but officially, it seems to have been ignored, both by the university and by the local media who do love the Lady Bears. Griner’s public statements makes ignoring it more difficult, but then, she’s graduating, so maybe they’re just praying she’s the only lesbian who has been, is or ever will be a Baylor student. Or at least, a sports superstar (that’s snark with a rainbow twist).
Among others, Randy Potts, at Box Turtle Bulletin, is asking unsurprising questions about why Baylor is silent.
I’m having a difficult time here, trying to remember if there has ever been a current student of an anti-gay Christian college who has come out so publicly and faced no punishment. … And Baylor, with Ken Starr at the helm, so far, remains silent while Griner out there in as public a way as possible as openly gay. Is she baiting Baylor with this (It Gets Better) video?
I think that’s rather speculative, that Griner is perhaps “baiting,” and it doesn’t seem to fit what she’s said. Plus, she really doesn’t need to do any “baiting.” Just be being herself, she’s raised questions about judging who she is under a “homosexual is sin” label. But that Baylor has made no statement is interesting.
I checked out what Baylor University does say about homosexuality. It took a bit of digging, since, no surprise, “sexual orientation” doesn’t show up in their Notice of Non-Discrimination, which includes, “race, color, nationality or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability.” I notice “religion” doesn’t show up, either.
Under “Student Policies and Procedures,” I finally found something relevant, in Sexual Misconduct: (emphasis added)
… Baylor will be guided by the understanding that human sexuality is a gift from the creator God and that the purposes of this gift include (1) the procreation of human life and (2) the uniting and strengthening of the marital bond in self-giving love. These purposes are to be achieved through heterosexual relationships within marriage. Misuses of God’s gift will be understood to include, but not be limited to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts.
The focus, of course, is on the “acts” of the “homosexuals,” which at Baylor are equivalent to stuff like sexual assault.
Okay, for some much more interesting and inspiring reading, excerpts from Griner’s NY Times op-ed. She describes the unplanned, simple “coming out” to her mother, which, of course, she knows isn’t everyone’s experience.
She gave me a hug, smiled and told me she loved me, and I went back upstairs to my room.
I knew then that it didn’t matter what my sexuality was; my mom and family would always love me for who I am. For me, the simplicity behind coming out was both powerful and beautiful. No drama, just acceptance and love.
That’s why I never felt the need to publicly announce I was ‘out.’ People have asked me if I’m at all bothered that my ‘announcement’ after the W.N.B.A. draft last month didn’t receive as much attention as Jason’s. Frankly, it didn’t matter at all to me. I simply answered a question honestly and am just happy to tell my truth and to be in a position to encourage others to do the same.
There were some very rough times for Brittney, when she was growing up.
I was bullied in every way imaginable, but the worst was the verbal abuse. (I was always a strong, tough and tall girl, so nobody wanted to mess with me from a physical standpoint.) It hit rock bottom when I was in seventh grade. I was in a new school with people I didn’t know, and the teasing about my height, appearance and sexuality went on nonstop, every day. …
Still, some people have it worse. I think about what Matthew Shepard had to face when he was tortured and chained to a fence in 1998 … .
She refers to the support that she, and Jason Collins, have recently received, writing that this
… has already made me more optimistic than ever that people are ready. More important, that the pace of change is picking up. That’s why I have become involved in the It Gets Better project, whose mission is to inspire hope for young people facing harassment and bullying. Because, people, it’s time for bullying to end. …
It’s my job now to, I hope, be a light who inspires others.
Who knows? Maybe “official” Baylor’s silence means they’ve accepted some of that “light,” beyond the basketball court variety. I don’t expect a change in their policies, non-discrimination or “sexual misconduct.” But at the very least, everybody knows that official Baylor knows someone who is lesbian, someone many of them spent years cheering on the basketball court. With Griner’s words, maybe official Baylor and other like-thinking / believing people will take another look at their perceptions off the court, too.
(Brittney Griner Via WNBA).