The crowds have emptied from Seattle’s streets. The tinge of joy still hangs in the air. My office is just 6 blocks from CenturyLink Field, the home of the Seahawks. The stream of humanity past our windows on Wednesday was happy and continuous. The sun was shining. Somehow 750,000 people (100,000 more than live in the entire city) managed to converge and celebrate our Superbowl victory without a single arrest. Seattle had a good day.
But a funny thing happened. Arguably America’s most prominent gay mayor, Ed Murray, and his husband, led a parade of professional NFL players, a sport that remains rife with homophobia, through a crowd of screaming fans.
I couldn’t help but wonder if he ever had personal moment of, “Oh. My. God. Can you BELIEVE this?” If he didn’t, I had it for him.
You might be thinking. What’s the big deal? We’ve got marriage equality in 17 states. Television is super gay now. We’re so over that homophobia thing. But wait. Ed Murray and I both went to high school way before “It gets better” public service announcements and Gay Straight Alliances. I wasn’t out to myself or others, but I have vivid, visceral memories of all the times I walked down the hallway trying to look straight ahead while two hometown football kids followed me just a little too close, stage whispering “Dyke bitch.” Not surprising, since I heard their coach throw the word gay around daily as a casual insult.
Heck, I’m pretty sure that “It gets better” and GSA’s aside, every gay or gender-stereotype-busting kid in America is still crystal clear on the safety risks inherent in a gym class, locker room or even the bleachers during a game.
And what's learned in high school continues. In October, a group of University of Mississippi football players yelled anti-gay slurs during a theater performance of “The Laramie Project,” a play about the real life torture and murder of a gay teen in Wyoming. In November, it was revealed that a Florida State University football team member wrote an essay for class in which he detailed a violent group assault he organized against a gay classmate in high school, and handed it in to his gay professor.
I just want someone to notice. Look NFL, our gay mayor and our marriage-equality-voting state threw you a really nice party. Could you do us a solid back ...And continues. In April, 2013, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe wrote that he believed he was let go from the Minnesota Vikings for simply speaking out in support of marriage equality when the issue was on the state ballot. The internet can offer more examples of an intimate relationship between football and homophobia, along with more rare, but notable efforts to push back against it.
When I broached all this with a straight male friend he said: “Oh yeah. The last time I got called a faggot was biking through the fans outside a football game.” Despite some media speculation this season, and organized efforts to push back against homophobia in professional sports, there is still no out active NFL player.
Mayor Murray was a legislative leader in the fight for marriage equality in Washington state for over a decade. He endured slurs from his fellow legislators, and threats from bigots. For me there is some insane irony, and some lovely justice, in the role he played Wednesday basking in Seattle’s Superbowl glow. I just want someone to notice. Look NFL, our gay mayor and our marriage-equality-voting state threw you a really nice party. Could you do us a solid back and work harder to clean the bigotry out of your house?
Siobhan Ring lives in Seattle with her wife and their young son. In her professional life she is the Mobilization Director at the Children's Alliance. Prior to that she was the Executive Director at the Tenants Union of Washington. This editorial does not reflect the opinions of any organization.