James Harrison’s non-apology for “gay slur”

I read this late last night and choked on whatever was in my glass.  This man has zero understanding of LGBT issues.  Zero. He needs to be educated and I hope his management team recognizes that he is saying … well, first read his comments. (Full statement here.)

I also need to make clear that the comment about Roger Goodell was not intended to be derogatory against gay people in any way. It was careless use of a slang word and I apologize to all who were offended by the remark. I am not a homophobic bigot, and I would never advocate intolerance of gay people.

A slang word? Again, I’m assuming the word is either “fag” or “faggot” but I haven’t seen the original article and all of the mainstream media folks are not printing the word. Hopefully, we can clear that up when Men’s Journal comes out today.

Anyway, slang word?  Let’s contrast this to his publicist attributing his comments to his culture.

“I don’t think we should get caught up in his cultural language,” Parise said. “I think people will read that for what it is and move on. I don’t think anyone truly believes James thinks the commissioner is the devil.”

It would be easy to assume that Harrison and Parise are saying that using the word “fag” or “faggot” is part of African-American culture and thus deserves a pass (pun not intended) because it isn’t *intended* to be offensive.

First of all, it is demeaning to imply that the African-American culture embraces a hateful word as part of their culture. It isn’t slang.  It is a derogatory word for gay men (and the entire LGBTQ community by extension).  It conveys a message of disrespect, intolerance and even disgust or hate.  There’s no way to spin these words as “slang” unless you are on the heterosexual, dismissive side of the “joke.”  And that’s an ugly place to be.

Second, I think there is a cultural component and Parise may be on to something.  The culture, however, is male dominated professional sports.  This is the fourth incident in less than a month (2 football, 1 baseball and 1 hockey) reported by the media.  Four incidents in one month suggests there is in fact a cultural acceptance of the word “fag” within this community.  Too bad for the LGBTQ players, staff, coaches and, oh yeah, fans, especially the kids.

NBA star Kobe Bryant was fined heavily for saying this word in a heated moment. It was wrong, he should know better and the fine was justified given the negative impact it has on the kids who look up to him.  Period.

Harrison has apparently been stewing on his hatred toward Roger Goodell for some time.  He knew this interview was coming and he had fair reason to suspect the topic would arise.  In other words, he had ample opportunity to prepare his comments. If he got so worked up in an interview that he “slipped,” then he needs to deal with these feeelings b/c they are leading him down some bitter paths and hurting innocent people.

If Harrison thinks the words “fag” and “faggot” or even “homo” are slang terms, he is a homophobic bigot. Sadly, he takes the immature approach of pretending that “offending” people isn’t his bad b/c he didn’t mean to do so.  What a poor role model this man is for youth in America.  And what a poor reflection on Pittsburgh and the Steeler Nation.

He needs to be educated.  If Tracy Morgan could make time to meet with LGBTQ youth and families to make amends for his words, Harrison could take the time to meet with some of the LGBTQ youth of Pittsburgh or some of the Steeler’s LGBTQ fans.  He could hear firsthand how these words impact our lives.  And maybe his heart would grow a few sizes and he’d be a man who can claim not to be a bigot in spite of the culture of his profession.

I’m willing to facilitate this.  I’ll be waiting for the call.


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