OUTSports recently discussed Pittsburgh’s newest QB – Landry Jones – an openly “devout” Christian in the context of playing with openly gay players.
Jones stance is that while he personally thinks homosexuality is “wrong” he would treat openly gay teammates like everyone else. From the interview at OUTsports
“There’s not a conflict,” Jones said. “People are people and God tells us to love everybody. And so that’s what I do.”
When he said the words, they felt like a canned line strung together by a handler who’d gotten hold of him to “say the right thing.” But as he talked more, it became clear that this young man was opening his heart and mind to me on an issue he felt surprisingly comfortable talking about.
“Now, do I condone what they’re doing? No, I don’t think it’s right,” he continued. I could feel the NFLPA folks over my shoulder thinking about the mandatory media firestorm that would envelope Jones once his comments got out.
Except, he took a turn I wasn’t expecting.
“But, am I going to go out there and not talk to them? Am I going to go out there and be hateful and mean to them? I think that’s ignorant. I think we respect and love everybody. But, there’s also a moral standard there for me, and I’m going to take a stand on that. I don’t think it’s right, but it’s their life and I’m not going to go up because someone is gay and be mean or hateful and say terrible things to them. I’m going to treat them like a human being.”
OUTSports hosts debated – Cyd Zeigler thought it was a good thing “it is enough for me” whereas Jim Buzinski thinks this isn’t something to celebrate because its common courtesy and actually legally required by the collective bargaining agreement. But he does note that it shows some evolution with regard to religious attitudes toward LGBTQ people – having to find a way to get along in a civil society.
Zeigler’s attitude is that we have to accept Christian’s right to believe as they choose and only require them to monitor their actions. And to some extent that’s true. And in terms of a workplace environment, he’s right. But there’s an element that’s missing from the dialogue – the very real connection between professional athletes and youth. Ironically, he asked people to donate to a program for youth queer athletes!
If Landry Jones treats all of his teammates and fellow NFL players and all athletes equally, regardless of their sexual orientation – that’s the way it is supposed to be. If he does so because of his Christian beliefs, then he is setting a good example and I personally think that is the path to his eventual evolution – allowing himself to have respectful relationships with openly LGBTQ folks.
But – and this is a big but – the Steelers do not have the greatest legacy on LGBTQ issues when it comes to players’ respectful public commentary (Harrison, Porter, etc.) And we have homeless LGBT kids living under bridges pretty near Heinz Field. Jones’ could help transcend that startling disparity with simple kindness and sincerity.
Imagine if he was the player who organized some form of outreach to these kids? Imagine …