This outburst was in response to the announcement of former NBA player John Amaechi, that he was gay. Amaechi is the first former NBA player to reveal his homosexuality.
Since this announcement, Hardaway has apologized- twice- for his comments, yet he was surprised at the amount of attention his comments received. "It was like, you know, I had killed somebody. ... I never knew that this was going to escalate that high," Hardaway said. Not only did his comment garner him unwanted attention, it damaged his reputation. The NBA dropped him as a spokesman at the All-Star game and, according to Msn.com, he has lost at least one endorsement deal.
His remarks, both about gays and the reaction to his anti-gay comments, demonstrate the disconnect he has with society. I do not believe for one second that his apology was sincere, especially since he felt the need to do it twice. I am sure his agent went into immediate damage-control following his ill-advised outburst. Obviously if he did not feel this way toward gays he would not have made such strong statements in the first place.
Unfortunately, despite the disconnect, Hardaway does speak for a large segment of our population. I am sure he expected an outpouring of support from others that embark on this sort of discrimination. I think he thought people would be happy that someone was outspoken about it. In an ESPN correspondence, one reporter noted that many NBA players feel the same way, but that they would not offer public support. I am sure what Hardaway is getting the type of personal feedback that says, "I am with you, man, I agree, I just can't help you out."
Maybe his comments were extreme, in that he "hates" gays, rather than voting against allowing them to get married, but nonetheless, it would be naïve of us to think that many people do not feel the same way.
States across this country voted to prohibit the marriage of gays, often amending their state constitution. Where are these people when he stands up and says what they think? Why are the Christian groups that campaign against homosexuality not offering him their support? Is their stance really that they do not hate homosexuals, just that it is sin and that they do not deserve the same rights as other Americans? Where exactly are people drawing the line?
Regardless, Hardaway should have been smart enough to know that his comments would draw the wrath of many gay and lesbian organizations, as well as other liberal-thinking Americans. Fortunately, there are a number of groups that spring into action following incidents like this to force the issue- in this case an apology. The ACLU will do it regarding civil liberty issues, PETA will do it when animals are mistreated and a number of environmental groups will do it when ecosystems have been harmed. Often regarded as a nuisance, these groups are sometimes successful in deterring otherwise heinous acts.
Thanks to these groups, and an evolving liberal attitude, I predict the day will come when people are no longer discriminated against because of their color, gender, religion or sexual preference. Its tale is still being told, as narrow-minded beliefs and archaic scripture still captivate the souls of many people. At least for now, it appears the discrimination is best left to the privacy of pews and voting booths- strategically escaping public scrutiny.