7.18.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
Comments: 3

SteveBlanchardHeadshotI attribute many of my personality quirks to my parents. That means I credit my mother for my ability to hold grudges.

If someone says something bad about her family or causes harm to someone she loves, especially her children, forgiveness is the last thing on her mind-no matter how much time has passed.

It’s a trait I inherited, if such things can be inherited. Memory is a powerful tool, and I was always taught, “fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you.” In other words, you get one chance to stay in my good graces.

So when an acquaintance, celebrity or sports figure makes blatant, homophobic comments about my community, I take it personally and don’t rush to forgive them, even if he or she apologizes profusely on social media and in tabloids.

Celebrity news, at least in my opinion, isn’t really news. It’s gossip and I rarely follow it. But the nature of my job typically keeps me in the loop of who said what about our community. And thanks to social media, there are always celebrities saying something they regret, or say they regret, later.

Fortunately, it’s rare that the celebrities I admire or enjoy attack me for my sexuality. Paris Hilton insulted us last year, but I can’t even remember the name of her short-lived reality series with what’s-her-name. When Tracy Morgan when on a homophobic rant during his stand up routine before that, I had no problem not watching 30 Rock, a show I never watched anyway, or buying Mio, the sweet flavor-your-water solution he pitches on television commercials for those too lazy to stir in Kool-Aid packs.

Both Hilton and Morgan apologized for their statements, but did little else. I know they’re not pacing in their multi-million dollar homes waiting for me to bestow my forgiveness upon them. But that’s not the point. To me, it’s about making things right, not just apologizing for your wrong-and that’s something that very rarely happens, especially concerning insults tossed at the LGBT community.

That’s why I was so surprised when former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway led the charge earlier this month to bring marriage equality to Florida. He signed his name to a petition to put a marriage equality amendment on Florida’s ballot and told reporters, “If you’re married you’re married-you should see your significant other in the hospital, make choices for your significant other if you need to make those choices.”

This is the same man who, in a 2007 radio interview, proudly proclaimed his hate for gay people. And that’s barely a paraphrase. He actually said, “I hate gay people. So let it be known, I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic.”

He never apologized for the comments and even defended them shortly after saying them six years ago. But recently, he said those comments were “truly, truly wrong” and then went the extra mile to do something to correct that past error.
Hardaway said that conversations with friends and family members about his homophobia helped him change his opinions on us. He said those heartfelt conversations offered perspectives he had never considered and allowed him to evolve his position on marriage equality and the LGBT community.

Is he truly sorry? I think so, and I can forgive him for his words in 2007. It may seem like a simple act, adding your name to a petition, but it’s a powerful one. How many pro NBA players-active or retired-have done the same thing for Florida’s LGBT population? Which of your favorite celebrities have actively petitioned on our behalf here in Florida?
Since 2007, the LGBT community has targeted Hardaway and labeled him a homophobe. Even those who have helped him change his views have been called out as bigoted, a term we use all too often.

Believe me, I get it. It’s hard to ignore the painful sting of words hurled our direction. Not to sound too preachy, but isn’t forgiving those people, especially the ones who legitimately apologize, the best way to heal those wounds?
People change their opinions, and education usually leads them to the right revelations. When that happens, we should be grateful, and yes, even offer forgiveness for their past indiscretions.

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