Poor Marginalized Micah….

In his most recent newsletter –shared with me yesterday by a friend who follows pronouncements from the fringes– Micah Clark of the American Family Institute  professes amazement at the notion that there is anything newsworthy about the recent “coming out” of NBA player Jason Collins.

“When asked about this previously unknown mid-level player, I said “with 12 million Americans out of work, 48 million Americans on food stamps, and 32 million US adults functionally illiterate, an athlete announcing that he wants to have sex with other men isn’t really that newsworthy. It is all media hype.”

Collins was certainly “previously unknown” to me–I don’t follow sports. But I gather he was a bit more prominent among those who know, for example, the difference between the NBA and the NFL. Leaving aside that snide reference, however, it’s telling that Clark is suddenly so concerned with poverty and unemployment; the newsletters I’ve seen previously have given me the impression that he feels there is nothing more important than regulating the sex lives and reproductive choices of other Americans.

The rest of the diatribe, however, is typical Clark, to wit:

I also pointed out that, as a parent, I don’t appreciate hearing about the sexual behavior of athletes over the airwaves.  I didn’t like hearing constant coverage of Wilt Chamberlain’s claim to having slept with 1,000 women, and I don’t like hearing about this Collins matter at every top of the hour news break. What we should care about is how they play basketball.  I also said that we should never base our standard of what is right and wrong upon the behavior of athletes.

Hate to tell you this, Micah, but we aren’t hearing about “the sexual behavior of athletes.” We have learned something about the identity of an athlete. Most of us are able to distinguish between who someone is and what they may or may not do. (I think your obsession is showing.)

         There are some things that can be learned from Jason Collin’s stunt.  For example, Mr. Collins’ announcement was a surprise to his former fiancé, Carolyn Moos, who played in the Women’s NBA.  It was also a surprise to Jason’s twin brother, Jarron. The media may mention Ms. Moos, but they may not want to mention Jason’s identical twin too often.  Doing so may remind people that, unlike race, there is no genetic cause or “gay gene” driving homosexual behavior.  If there were, Jason’s happily married, father of three, twin brother would also be involved in homosexuality, and he’s not.

I’m not sure what the existence of an ex-fiancee is supposed to prove; we all know gays and lesbians who’ve married and raised families. Sometimes, those marriages were attempts to suppress or deny an orientation that society despised, sometimes they were “arrangements.” But the insistence that having a heterosexual twin is “proof” that there is no “gay gene” simply betrays a lack of understanding of basic genetics. Most studies of twins and homosexuality have found that if one twin is gay, the other has a 50% chance of also being gay. Fifty percent is far higher than chance, and underscores a heritable component in sexual identity. The reason incidence isn’t 100% is because there isn’t a single gene that determines sexual orientation; current science suggests that there is a complex interaction between several genetic markers and environmental factors that produces sexual orientation. Whatever the biological mechanisms, they are beyond the power of individuals to change–although there is a spectrum along which sexual orientation lies, any given individual’s sexual identity is what lawyers call an “immutable” characteristic. In plain language, it isn’t chosen.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the Micah Clarks of the world as the culture shifts around them. The newsletter from which I’ve quoted has a forlorn tone; suddenly, those Micah has relentlessly marginalized are being welcomed into the human family, and he isn’t taking it very well. I have always assumed that the loudest homophobes are men who feel threatened or inadequate; looking down on gays allows them to feel “better than,” much as the “bubbas” who still populate the south desperately need to believe that their skin color makes them superior to at least some others. (Those guys aren’t taking the election of an African-American President very well, by the way.)

Another item in the newsletter references the upcoming National Day of Prayer, and Clark says that now more than ever, America needs those prayers. I wonder what he thinks about the Mayor of Charlotte (recently nominated to be Transportation Secretary), who has just jettisoned that tradition in favor of a  Day of Reason.

Man, these days, the theocrats just can’t catch a break.


  1. Excellent article and comments. However, I find it amazing that you, a dyed-in-the-wool Hoosier, have so little knowledge of basketball and Jason Collins’ career! 🙂

    To give you an overview of his standing–and refute Clark’s dismissive comments: “Collins played for Stanford, where he was named to the 2001 Pac10 first team and the National Association of Basketball Coaches voted him to third-team All-American standing. He finished his college career ranked first in field goal percentage (.608) and fifth in blocked shots (89).

    He began his professional career with the New Jersey Nets and, as a rookie, played a significant role in the Nets’ NBA Finals berth against the LA Lakers in 2002. In the 2002–03 season, Collins was the Nets’ starting center and helped the franchise back to the NBA Finals. He played for the Nets until 2008, when we was traded to Memphis and then to Minnesota. He signed with Atlanta in 2009 for three seasons and joined the Boston Celtics in 2012. He becomes a free agent in July on this year and plans to continue playing in the NBA.”

    Really, the only problem I can see is that he went to school in the Pac10; it would’ve been great to see his skills here in the Midwest on a Big 10 team!

  2. The recent “coming out” of Jason Collins is certainly news, but some media and some activists try to push that news and “gay problem” before other more crucial issues that common people are much more affected by.

  3. Micah certainly over the years has exhibited a great deal of obsession over the subject of homosexuality. I’ve been told by several folks that a close relative of Micah’s died of AIDS, and that the understandable grief contributes greatly to that obsession. That is very sad, in a way.

  4. This is one of the problems with the “news” media in our country. We cover stories about who people prefer to sleep with, who they’re sleeping with, and what they wore…

    How about the “news” media get back to covering what’s happening in our government and things which actually effect more than 10 people.

  5. Good job, Sheila, in pointing out the not-so-simple genetics of sexual identity. Obsessions unfortunately have a way of generating self-supporting simple explanations at odds with the facts.

  6. John
    You’re missing the whole point of his ‘coming out’ story. It’s like the “It Gets Better” campaign.

    Maybe he’s trying to stop the tide of young adults who are gay of feeling left out by society and wanting to take their lives. The bullying of our society against ‘the others’ is why these people share their sexual preference and if you could take a moment to read the stories of young ‘gay’ people taking their lives in suicide, that would be the whole point. The media is trying to show these young and insecure people that they are not alone. It seems the only people ‘focused’ on sexuality are the conservatives by trying to end Planned Parenthood, legal abortion and demonizing those of the gay persuasion.

    If you want to ‘get back’ to covering what’s happening in the government (which I’ll tell you is virtually NOTHING), then there’s CSPAN.

  7. ALG,

    Teens/kids will always be picked on for numerous reasons. If any gay kid out there “feels alone” then they obviously have more wrong with themselves than the ability to “fit in”. There are also hotlines they can call and places they can go to help get treatment for suicidal thoughts. In the age of Google, it’s not hard to find those options.

    No, the media is just as focused on sexuality than about any other group, if not more so. They focus so much on celebutards and their latest bf/gf and who just came out of the closet (as if 90% of American’s couldn’t tell the person was gay in the first place) that it drowns out worthwhile news.

  8. Well John, maybe if everyone ACCEPTED Gay people and allowed them their Rights as citizens in this country, there wouldn’t be a need to ‘come out’. As someone married to a man of a different race, which was illegal until 1967, I think I can understand a bit about what they are going through. If the media is too focused on sexuality and it bothers you, maybe you are spending way too much time watching and reading it. Go out and meet some new people. Maybe you’ll meet a gay person and finally see what you’re missing when the media focuses on the latest group being discriminated against.
    Or change the channel. Be bold. Click.

  9. Good for you ALG; John doesn’t seem to be aware of the cruelty shown to anyone deemed “different” than their conception of what is normal or the way things should be. I, too, was married to a man of a different race which puts you and I and others in a minority group all our own to be viewed as different. The media is focused on sexuality in all its forms along with controling women’s private and personal lives and rights because the far right has made it top news. How very sad that Jason Collins and so many others simply being who they are has to be in the news and a major political issue.

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