Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They Got Over a Hundred Gays Here So Some of Yous Are Going Home

Hey, did you hear about D2, that gay male softball team that had its 2nd place finish at the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAAA) World Series revoked? Apparently, an opposing team that had lost to D2 complained and said that the team had too many straight players. A strange investigation process then occurred that revealed that 3 allegedly-straight people were on the team instead of the allowed 2.


I want to first take note of the pettiness and jealousy that would inspire amateur softball players to actually go through the trouble of filing a protest after a loss at a tournament on the basis of an opposing team's overall sexual orientation composition. I know, rules are rules. But it's one thing for a team to be stacked with former semi-pro players, but to object based on the fact that a team supposedly has one more heterosexual than is allowed? Geez.

Now, private associations restrict their memberships all the time, and I have played in LGBT sports clubs before. After having grown up in very homophobic sports environments, I appreciate the experience of being part of a sports community that is accepting. I've been at some mainstream softball tournaments, for instance, where a woman felt the need to affirm her Normal Status by walking around with "I love dick" in permanent marker on her leg. Like, just so everyone was totally clear that she wasn't a big lesbo.

That being said, I question the practice of allowing protests based on the sexual orientation of opposing players. Especially if the policy tends to be invoked mostly if a team is doing well in a tournament. I have no idea if that's what usually happens in this particular league, but if the basis of the rule is to ensure an affirming and non-homophobic sports environment, wouldn't a more germane test be whether players are homophobic?

I've been around LGBT sports long enough to know that restricting membership to "gay people" is not a cure-all for homophobia, gender policing, biphobia, and transphobia in these leagues. For instance, some lesbians take real pride in "not being as dykey as some of those other teams."

Besides, I'm curious how the policy is implemented. In the D2 case, how do you even tell a male athlete is gay based on watching him play softball? What stereotypes are going on in people's heads that would make them suspect heterosexuality on the part of an opposing player? How would an accused straight person then prove he's actually gay?

And.... is it okay for people to be bisexual?

Let's look at the rule that was invoked to disqualify the team. It states that "a maximum of two Heterosexual players are permitted on a [world series] roster." Presumably then, bisexual players would not count toward the two-person limit on heterosexuals.

Yet, oddly, from the above-cited article:

"After [the championship game], officials with the gay athletic alliance called [the allegedly heterosexual players] separately into a conference room for a hearing to determine whether they were heterosexual or gay, the suit said.
They were asked 'very intrusive questions,' including what their sexual interests and preferences were, Thomas said.

Charles, who was D2's manager, asked whether he could say he was bisexual and was told, 'This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series,' the suit said."

However, in an open letter on its website reacting to this case, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance's (NAGAAA) stated:

"The three plaintiffs did not identify themselves as bisexual during the 2008 Protest Hearing, in their appeal to the NAGAAA Commissioner, in their complaints to the Washington Human Rights Commission, or in their complaint suing NAGAAA. Nevertheless, all three players have now identified themselves as bisexual. NAGAAA recognizes that some individuals who were present in the room during the 2008 Protest Hearing apparently did not have the same understanding of NAGAAA’s definitions, as they applied to bisexual players, that NAGAAA’s leadership had. The Protest Committee voted Plaintiffs to be believed to be heterosexual, subjected them to the participation limit imposed by NAGAAA’s Rules, disqualified their team, and expunged their participation from the 2008 GSWS. The Protest Hearing included questioning and a voting procedure that Plaintiffs found to be offensive.

NAGAAA has since adopted new definitions that make clear that bisexual or transgender players are not subject to NAGAAA’s roster limits."

Interestingly, the rules (as revised 10/21/11) still state that a "maximum of two Heterosexual players" can be on a roster. That language is not necessarily inclusive of transgender players, since (a) gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate categories and (b) many transgender people are heterosexual. The rules further define heterosexual as "not gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender."

Weird. I wonder if they had input from transgender people on that one.

NAGAAA also stated that although it won the discrimination lawsuit that was filed against them, the organization has decided to recognize the D2 team as 2nd place winners in the tournament in order to reflect the organization's inclusivity of bisexual players. NAGAAA also clarified that it will keep its two-heterosexuals-per-team rule in accordance with a judge's ruling that doing so was permissible. (No word on whether NAGAAA will change its name to reflect its inclusivity of bisexuals and transgender people).

I strongly question the decision to keep the "2 heterosexuals" rule. Are non-LGBT people really vying in significant numbers to infilitrate and win the Gay World Series? I'm not sure it's necessary to subject teams to sexual orientation witch hunts initiated by potentially any team that's upset about losing.

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