Torii Hunter’s Views on Homosexuality are Unacceptable in 21st Century
Over the weekend, Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter was quoted as saying the following regarding the prospect of having a gay teammate:
“For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right. It will be difficult and uncomfortable.”
It shouldn’t be too difficult to spot the backwardness in his comments. For one thing, homosexuality is mentioned essentially in passing in the Old Testament with roughly the same level of gravity as tattoos. Condemned far more explicitly are things like, for example, adultery. My guess is that Hunter hasn’t had any problem playing with men who cheat on their wives. Jealousy and greed are also condemned – again, far more explicitly – and yet, Torii Hunter had no problem taking to twitter to complain about not receiving a contract offer from the team that had paid him 90 million dollars over the past five years.
Furthermore, if Hunter is an actual student of the Bible, he should know that the New Testament talks quite a bit about loving your neighbor and accepting others who are different. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” was a saying from Jesus that seems to have fallen by the wayside for the Tigers’ new outfielder.
Beyond the inherent ignorance of treating fellow humans like lesser beings, there comes the ignorance that Torii Hunter actually believes that he’s never played with a gay teammate. Not even counting time spent in high school and the minors, Hunter has played in parts of 16 seasons with two teams and will suit up with a third this spring. That’s several hundred people that he’s played with, showered with, changed in front of, and yet – somehow he thinks that he has dodged all the percentages and somehow had 100% straight teammates.
But the most frustrating thing about Hunter’s sentiments is how they simply are not unique among Major League ballplayers, or professional athletes in general. Not one of the thousands of professional athletes in the four major American sports has dared to come out as openly gay during their playing career; the tolerance that has all-too-slowly started creeping its way into mainstream society just does not exist in professional clubhouses. And while some, like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo have taken to the public in support of marriage equality, the taboo of being a gay professional athlete is an ironclad wall preventing acceptance.
This has far reaching effects that go outside the realm of bigoted locker rooms. Young kids all across the country look up to professional athletes. And by any objective measure, Torii Hunter is actually one of the people they should be looking up to – or at least he was before these comments. If you’re 7 years old and you learn that your favorite wall-climbing outfielder thinks that homosexuality is wrong, that’s going to be an opinion that can stick with you. Consider that this attitude prevails throughout professional sports, and you have a lot of young children with misguided role models. While the natural tide of human progress is making inroads on this matter of tolerance, the wave of irresponsible athletes with reprehensible attitudes toward their fellow man is sure to slow this social evolution.
It’s not too late for Hunter. As I mentioned before – he’s actually one of the good ones – an upstanding citizen in the community and by all accounts a tremendous teammate – the exact sort of person you would want your kids to look up to. With a little bit of backlash, hopefully Hunter will see the error of his ways, the error of his Biblical interpretation, apologize, and continue to be the role model that his past actions have made him out to be.