Did Basketball Make You a Lesbian?

There used to be a billboard in my county, sponsored by a helpful non-profit organization that was working to prevent teen pregnancy. In big letters, it said: “Nine out of 10 girls who play high school sports will never experience a teen pregnancy”.

That may well be true, but the billboard was located on a road many of us took to get to the local dyke bar, so it became the source of jokes, and more than once its catch phrase was used as a drinking toast.

Now, according to a post on AfterEllen.com (written by Twitter buddy @thelinster), a Kentucky man claims to have pinpointed basketball as the cause of lesbianism.  Jaye Collins, the coach of the Louisville Legends, says on his website that he is “encouraging young girls to be proud and secure in not being part of the lesbian and homosexual lifestyle which is so prevalent in woman’s/girl’s athletics”.

It apparently hasn’t occurred to Mr. Collins that some young lesbians may self-select just by trying out for the team. Many young women are drawn to sports because teams provide a safe place, away from the awkward frenzy of boy-girl interactions, and they may seek this environment before they’re fully aware of their sexual orientation. Lesbians aren’t “converted,” as Mr. Collins alleges, but they eventually find each other – on the court or off – when their sexuality awakens.

Collin’s coaching approach is far from supportive for his closeted or budding lesbian players, and he is actually encouraging prejudice and homophobia. (Read the full story here.)

I don’t have the “ball gene,” as my girlfriend calls it. I was a hapless, hopeless girls softball player who can attest that the grass grows lusher in right field. And I’m still queer. Of course, I like to watch women’s basketball. But, if liking to watch could make a person gay, a whole lot of straight men would be converted to lesbians (or pro ball players). Or so I’ve heard.

(Read G.’s essay on Can I Help You, Sir?, for the perspective of someone who, unlike me, actually played ball.)

Enjoy some lesbian basketball comedy relief with the now-legendary L Word basketball scene in which Helena proves herself to be crispy with the rock. (Some language is not safe for work.)

3 responses to “Did Basketball Make You a Lesbian?

  1. LOVE. this episode! Miss the comedic value of the L Word on a daily basis!

  2. Thanks for the mention! I feel so bad for the athletes who play for this guy for a variety of reasons. I had a coach who said some homophobic things, and it shoved me further in the closet for a while. I might need to blog about that sometime, too.

    And sports don’t make anyone gay, but they do provide a convenient place to pick up hot women. Thanks, sports!

    • It’s so dangerous to create a climate of homophobia anywhere, but it seems particularly insidious in the environment of a sports team for young women. After all, odds are high these women will encounter lesbian coaches and teammates for the rest of their playing years. Wouldn’t it be more useful to foster an environment of acceptance and safety?

      Several years ago, a friend of mine returned to college and was recruited to play for the university’s women’s soccer team. She is an out lesbian and butch. She’s not transgender. She just doesn’t fit the feminine norm or even the ubiquitous athletic “tomboy” description. At some point during the season, a group of the players, several years younger and presumably straight, complained to the coach that my friend’s presence in the locker room made them uncomfortable. They said she hadn’t done or said anything to make them feel uncomfortable, they were just self-conscious, etc. The coach’s solution was to have my friend change in a staff office and shower separately.

      She took it in good humor because these were her teammates, but I was pissed off for her. This is the same sort of thinking that has led to DADT: Banish those that make the “norm” uncomfortable. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the few uncomfortable parties changed and showered separately? After all, the problem was theirs, and they were clear about that.

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