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STANDING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY: ‘Like, Is America Ready For The Big Gay Super Bowl?’



STANDING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY examines ideas, events, places and people standing on the wrong as well as the right side of history.

I come from a family of sports fans. My dad, and mom and sister, our uncles and our aunts, most everyone but me, loved football. When they weren’t freezing in the stands, they were huddled around the TV watching “the  game.” Holidays were marked with a succession of games blaring at full volume. My mother could name every quarterback in the NFL and most of the coaches; when she died at 87 we had to cancel her subscription to Sports Illustrated. From her hospital bed, two days before her death, she reminded us to collect the $387 that Glenn — her bookie — still owed her. Glenn paid up and even sent flowers to the funeral home. At the funeral I spotted him in the back row.

I learned late in life to like the game; to appreciate the elegance of a well thrown pass; the athleticism of a spectacular catch and the thrill of watching someone kick a 63 yard field goal. Twenty-two hot men in spandex, huddling, hugging and patting each other on the butt only added to the allure. My new husband, my companion of 35 years, and I even went to a Sports Bar in Puerto Vallarta while on our honeymoon to root for the Seahawks who narrowly lost their exciting playoff game. And we’ll be watching Super Bowl XLVII with the other 100 million fans.

So Thursday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when I heard The Edge of Sports’ Dave Zirin say, “From the political perspective, this is like the LGBT super bowl in some respects. Like, is America ready for the big gay super bowl?” I almost dropped the cup of coffee I was holding and gave him my full attention.

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Zirin went on to contrast Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a supporter of gay rights, and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, whose homophobic comments resulted in the 49ers’ management hurriedly issuing a formal statement rejecting his remarks and an unconvincing apology from Culliver  which had obviously been crafted by a 49ers’ public relations person. The 49ers, Zirin reminded viewers, was the first NFL team to produce a video for the It Gets Better campaign, an anti-bullying project aimed mostly at LGBTQ youth.

Adding fuel to this public relations fire in San Francisco, at the same time a proposal to rename San Francisco International Airport in honor of gay rights activist Harvey Milk was being discussed, two of Culliver’s team mates, Ahmad Brooks and Isaac Sopoaga, denied having participated in the video in which they can clearly be viewed, and when confronted with the evidence exacerbated the kerfuffle by saying if they had known the video was aimed at LGBTQ youth, they wouldn’t have participated. Dan Savage has since yanked the video from the It Gets Better website.

The week got curiouser and curiouser for the 49ers when it was revealed that former teammate, 30-year-old Kwame Harris, may face criminal charges after allegedly assaulting his ex-boyfriend last year. Outed by the news of his arrest, Harris took time out from his own problems to opine, “It’s surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people.”

Not everyone on the team shares Colliver’s, Brooks’, and Sopoaga’s attitude. Harris, who played for the 49ers from 2003 to 2007, had never revealed he was gay in public nor to his fellow players. Upon learning his former friend is gay, tight end Delanie Walker, who played alongside Harris for two seasons, said he didn’t see his former teammate any differently. “It probably wouldn’t affect me, but other guys might feel different,” Walker told USA Today. “If that’s what he’s into, that’s what he’s into. I can’t judge a person for how he feels. Things happen. He was a great player. And long snapper Brian Jennings observed, “We’re all there for the common purpose of winning football games. I don’t know if it mattered or if anyone was aware of his sexual orientation.”

In Baltimore, the Ravens’ Ayanbajedo sees the upcoming game as a platform to talk about marriage equality and anti-bullying. “It’s a message of positivity. It’s a message of equality. And it’s a chance to get it out. It’s not going to affect the way I play football, but it’s going to affect a lot of people’s lives off the field.”

His teammate, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, when asked if he would have a problem with a gay teammate answered, “Absolutely not.” Suggs observed that the rest of the team would also welcome a gay teammate. “We wouldn’t have a problem with it,” he said. “We don’t care. Our biggest thing in the locker room is to just have fun and stay loose. We don’t really care too much about that. We’re a football team. I said it yesterday; everybody deserves a certain amount of privacy. Who cares? Whatever a person’s choice is, it’s their choice. On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality,” added Suggs. “To each their own. You know who you are, and we accept you for it.”

The next day, I watched MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts interview Wade Davis, a former NFL cornerback who came out as gay last year after playing with the Tennessee Titans, and later with the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins, from 2000-2004. On the show which aired February 1, the former NFL player said, “We need more straight allies [in sports] to speak up for the LGBT community.” His interview included reflections on why homophobia is so rampant in the sports world.  “I think that the real issue is the idea that a gay man can play sports is an attack to a straight guy’s masculinity.”

When asked about Chris Culliver’s remarks,  Davis, who has said, “at least three NFL players are ‘semi-openly’ gay,” which means they’re only open to their teammates, responded, “I was very hurt by it,  I thought, wow, this is going to help us have this conversation during the biggest game of the year, but then I also thought that, wow, there’s a lot of players who are closeted in the NFL that are going to go deeper into the closet  because of these comments.”

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And just this very Super Bowl morning, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry asked, “Is this going to be the gayest ever Super Bowl in history?”

Lest fans think that the NFL was embracing Ayanbajedo’s “positivity” and his teammates’ welcoming acceptance, on Friday the league-sanctioned Fourteenth Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration featured a lineup of homophobic religious singers and preachers who have said things so extreme they make Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum appear reasonable by comparison.

Why does any of this matter? Dave Zirin’s article in The Nation, “Is It Getting Better? Homophobia Rocks Super Bowl,” explains:

Well, it matters for a multitude of reasons. First, whether we like it or not, athletes are role models. Complaining about this fact of American life is like complaining that the sky is blue or John Boehner is orange. Therefore it makes a difference if they are modeling inclusion and respect for our LGBT friends and family. As Hudson Taylor, founder of the organization Athlete Ally said in a statement, “Chris Culliver’s comments are disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him.” It also matters because as long as there has been football, from its inception when Teddy Roosevelt would lash out at “sissies” who refused to play, it has been one of the ways manhood has been defined in the United States. Being a “real man” means playing through pain, harming others and limping away when the game is done. To be gay means, as Culliver said in a modern incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt, you are bringing “that sweet stuff in the locker room.” When NFL players like Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe, and Scott Fujita speak out for gay rights, they are also implicitly speaking out against these rigid, crushing, social constructions that are long overdue to be thrown in the dustbin of history.

Of course I have no idea what the outcome of the game will be. As I write this, odds-makers in Las Vegas are calling the 49ers the favorite by 3½ points. (They also give a 36% chance Beyonce’s hair will be straight, not curly – $100 wins $150.) If they were still alive, Glenn would be telling my mother, “Sylvia, the Ravens are the underdogs.” But I don’t see it that way. Regardless of the final score, the Ravens are clearly the winners. And Brendon Ayanbadejo and Terrell Suggs are standing on the right side of history.

Image, top, by Joe Brokken


Stuart Wilber believes that living life openly as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Allied person is the most powerful kind of activism. Shortly after meeting his partner in Chicago in 1977, he opened a gallery named In a Plain Brown Wrapper, where he exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. In the late 1980’s when they moved to San Clemente, CA in Orange County, life as an openly gay couple became a political act. They moved to Seattle 16 years ago and married in Canada a few weeks after British Columbia legalized same-​sex marriage. When Marriage Equality became the law in Washington State, they married on the first possible day permitted which was the first day of their 36th year together. Although legally married in some states and some countries, they are still treated as second class citizens by the federal government. Equality continues to elude him. (Photo by Mathew Ryan Williams)

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‘I Feel a Little Bit Dumber for What You Say’: The Nine Worst Moments of the GOP Presidential Debate



The second Republican presidential debate was mired in in-fighting and personal attacks by the candidates,  a vow to wage physical war against Mexico, hate against LGBTQ people, an insistence the U.S. Constitution doesn’t actually mean what the words on the page say, and a fight over curtains.

Here are nine of the worst moments from Wednesday night’s debate.

The debate itself got off to a rough start right from the beginning.

Multiple times candidate cross-talk made it impossible for anyone to make a point, like this moment when nearly half the candidates talked over each other during a nearly two minute segment as the moderators struggled to take control.

READ MORE: ‘I Don’t Think So’: As GOP Debate Kicks Off Trump Teases Out the Chances of Any Candidate Becoming His Running Mate

Vivek Ramasway got into a heated argument with Nikki Haley, leading the former Trump UN Ambassador to tell him, “Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

Ramaswamy launched an attack on transgender children.

Moments after Ramaswamy attacked transgender children, so did Mike Pence, calling supporting transgender children’s rights “crazy.”

He promised “a federal ban on transgender chemical or surgical surgery anywhere in the country,” and said: “We’ve got to protect our kids from this radical gender ideology agenda.”

Former New Jersey Governor Cris Christie described the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, who has dedicated her life to teaching, as the person President Biden is “sleeping with.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, as CNN’s Manu Raju noted were “one-time allies,” after “Haley appointed Scott to his Senate seat,” until they started “going at it at [the] debate.”

“Talk about someone who has never seen a federal dollar she doesn’t like,” Scott charged. “Bring it, Tim,” Haley replied before they got into a fight about curtains.

Senator Scott declared, “Black families survived slavery, we survived poll taxes and literacy tests, we survived discrimination being woven into the laws of our country. What was hard to survive was [President] Johnson’s Great Society, where they decided to take the Black father out of the household to get a check in the mail.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, currently leading over everyone on stage, said practically nothing for the first 15 minutes. He may have said the least of all the candidates on stage Wednesday night. But he denounced Donald Trump for being “missing in action.”

Watch all the videos above or at this link.




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‘I Don’t Think So’: As GOP Debate Kicks Off Trump Teases Out the Chances of Any Candidate Becoming His Running Mate



Donald Trump, again refusing to participate in a GOP debate, teased out the fate of every candidate on stage Wednesday night: he will choose none of them as his vice presidential running mate.

The ex-president who is facing 91 felony charges in four criminal cases across three jurisdictions and is now also facing the dissolution of his business empire, brought up the running mate question around the same time the debate on Fox News was kicking off.

“It’s all over television, this speech,” Trump falsely claimed, referring to his live remarks at a non-union shop one day after President Joe Biden stood on the picket line with UAW workers.

READ MORE: ‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden

“You know, we’re competing with the job candidates,” Trump said, mocking his fellow Republican presidential candidates after he scheduled an event opposite the debate he refused to attend.

“They’re all running for a job,” he continued, as the audience began to boo.

“They want to be in the, they’ll do anything,” he continued. “Secretary of something.”

“They even say VP, I don’t know,” Trump said. “Does anybody see any VP in the group? I don’t think so.”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Careening’ Toward ‘Risk of Political Violence’: Experts Sound Alarm After Trump Floats Executing His Former General


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‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden



Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) became defensive and accusatory after repeatedly being unable to answer a reporter’s questions in a press conference Wednesday, held to announce what House Republicans claim is “evidence” against President Joe Biden.

A shortened version of the video posted by the news organization Heartland Signal went viral, garnering nearly one million views in under three hours on the social media platform X.

“Mr. Chairman, question about the timing of all of this,” began an NBC News reporter identified by Mediaite as Ryan Nobles. “You’re talking about a two-tiered system of justice. If I’m not mistaken, on August 7, 2020 Bill Barr was the attorney general and Donald Trump was the president, so explain to me where the two-tiered system of justice comes into play. And then the WhatsApp message you have, I believe, is dated June 6, 2017. Joe Biden is not vice president or even a candidate for president at that time. So where is the direct connection to some sort of criminal malfeasance within these two pieces of evidence?”

RELATED: ‘Everybody Has Seen That’: Fox News Host Smacks Down Republican Pushing Biden ‘Burismo’ Video People ‘Not Talking About’

Chairman Smith could not only not answer any part of those questions, he appeared to forget a portion of them.

“Well, I think the facts speak for themselves,” Smith replied. “There’s over 700 pages of examples of, where people should be very concerned, when you’re talking about um, ah, – what was your first question?”

Smith went on to say, “It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House,” after being reminded them President at that time was Donald Trump. “We need to make sure that the Department of Justice works for all people and doesn’t treat those who are politically connected or wealthy much differently. And unfortunately, we have several examples that came forward by the two IRS whistleblowers, that proves that people are treated differently because they’re politically connected.”

“Are you suggesting that Joe Biden being the president now, is unfairly treating Donald Trump in his indictment?” Nobles asked.

Again, Smith did not answer the question.

“What I’m talking about is the 700 pages that we have before us, which is all the information that came from the IRS whistleblowers, and that’s what we’re releasing right now,” Smith replied, again not answering Nobles’ question. “And I’ll tell you, I would encourage everyone in this room to look at those 700 pages. If you think it’s okay, with what’s in it, then we live on two different planets.”

RELATED: ‘You F**ked Me – I Know It Was You’: Top House Republican ‘Exploded’ at McCarthy After Losing Chairmanship

“Can you explain the timing of the August 6 WhatsApp message? Why is that evidence of some wrongdoing?” Nobles continued..

“I’m not an expert on the timeline,” Smith admitted, before pivoting to say, “I would love to have President Biden and his family to tell us about all the timelines, because it’s really, really unfortunate that we see so many meetings and so many phone calls that involved around official activity that the Vice President has been participating in, and then big sums of money follows later –”

“But he’s not the president or the vice president at that time. Where, where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president,” Nobles pointed out.

“He was a candidate – ” Smith claimed.

“On August 6 –” Nobles began before Smith interrupted him.

“So apparently apparent – what source are you with?” Chairman Smith asked Noble.

“I’m with NBC,” the reporter replied.

“So apparently, you’ll never believe us,” Smith charged.

“I’m asking you a very direct question,” Nobles explained. “You presented a piece of evidence that you say came on August 6, 2017, that demonstrates that Joe Biden was using political influence to help his son. He wasn’t a political figure at that time. The first WhatsApp message you put up, where yo talk about the brand,” Nobles explained. “I’m completely open minded about this. I’m asking you specifically, how does that demonstrate that there was some sort of political influence being put over him, if at that time, he is not a political – he’s not an elected official?”

“I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item,” Chairman Smith said defensively.

READ MORE: ‘Jaw Dropping’: Democratic Senator Slams Tuberville’s ‘Open’ Talk About ‘White Supremacy’

“You presented it!” Nobles acclaimed. “It was the first thing that you brought up.”

“So apparently, you don’t agree with that. So report that you disagree with it. I’ll take the next question. Yes?” Smith said, refusing to answer any of Nobles’ questions.

Watch below or at this link.


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