Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Celebrate Myself and Gay Athletes

First posted at Big Dave on sports

Tyson Gay’s amazing weekend at Indianapolis, which ended with him breaking Michael Johnson’s meet record in the 200 meters at the U.S. track and field championships, was a victory just not for Gay athletes, but for Gay men everywhere.

Oh I don’t mean homosexual gay. Like most U.S. heterosexual males I couldn’t care less about track and field and had no idea Tyson Gay existed before this weekend, never mind his sexual preference. No, there are no homosexual athletes, only retired homosexual athletes; although, when I go to a Red Sox game and see an 8 year old wearing a “Jeter sucks, A-Rod swallows” shirt, along with me having to explain to a child that A-Rod swallows to keep from dying, it does make me question if there aren’t in fact homosexual athletes.

But I digress. Why I am here is to celebrate Gay men like Tyson and myself, men who were teased, harrassed and even beaten in school because their name has been adopted by the homosexual community, although I must applaud Tyson’s parents because if you have saddled your son with the last name Gay the least you can do is give him a bad ass first name like Tyson.

My parents did not name me Tyson, which I must give them credit for, because I was born in 1963, and if they had named me Tyson my name would have been interpreted as “Chicken Gay,” which may have got me the lead in the Broadway production of Roots, but not through the third grade.

My parents did not have many options in 1963: Clay Gay wouldn’t have helped. Even Liston Gay seemed more of an adjective than a moniker. So, you think, they settled on Ted, which is pretty non-offensive.

But no, no, no, dear reader, you see Ted is a nickname, and as nickname goes it’s not exactly Hurricane or The Big Hurt, but better than Broadway Gay. No my given first name is Edgar.

So my name is Edgar Gay.

Actually Edgar Amos Gay.

Actually Edgar Amos Gay III.

God blessed Tyson Gay with speed. He blessed me with nothing more than the ability to absorb an amazing amount of punishment.

Now, since I am the third, that means that there was an Edgar Amos Gay Jr, who was my father, and you would think that, having lugged this name through his life, he would not pass it on to his son, but during my mother’s pregnancy with me, in the 60’s, when couples did not go to therapy (they just didn’t speak) on the night my mother was to give birth to me, when she was drugged up and barely conscious, much like at conception, she called out to my father, what do you want to name him, and my father said: “Anything but Edgar,” and in her state all she heard was Edgar and here I be.

In the first five years of school my parents insisted I be called Edgar because, apparently, they hated me. But in sixth grade when I went to middle school I declared I would be called Ted, and when the teacher said is Ted Gay here I proudly said I was and all the kids laughed and said “What are you Gay?” and having lived a sheltered life I said I was, and then became aware that the homosexual community had hijacked my name. If your last name is Gay you need to be a runner, a fighter, or a great lover. I took those three pitches for strikes like Julio Lugo with the bases loaded and spent the next seven years being tormented.

What I hoped and prayed for was a Gay athlete, again, not sexual preference, but someone named Gay that I could point to and say: “See, he’s named Gay and he’s not a homosexual so why do you think I am?”

It wasn’t until I was 42 years old when the Patriots drafted Randall Gay out of LSU that I finally had a Gay athlete to look up to. As the season progressed, due to injuries, he moved into the starting lineup. When the Patriots defeated the Steelers to go to the Super Bowl I decided it was time to get myself a Randall Gay jersey.

I drove to the Patriots team shop in Foxboro and asked for a Gay jersey. “Don’t have one,” the man said. I then asked to order one. “Can’t do it, the NFL won’t allow it.”

In what is most assuredly a true story, I could not buy a NFL jersey with the name of a starting cornerback in the Superbowl on it because the NFL did not issue jersey with any “profane or offensive names” on them.

42 year of outrage could not be contained. I argued, I fumed, I wrote letters, but to no avail, a Randall Gay jersey was not to be had, although my sister did order a jersey with his number and got an underground sewing shop to put “Gay” on the back, but still the prejudice inflamed me.

The Patriots won that day, and Gay led the team with 11 solo tackles, although, I believe, the announcers could, according to NFL policy, refer to him only as “Unknown Patriots Cornerback.”

Although Gay had scored a victory for Gays everywhere I still was not satisfied and tried to get his jersey to be sanctioned by the NFL. I even went so far as to offer Reggie Bush $1,000 to change his name to Reggie Douchebag so I could hear Al Michaels say: “The punt goes to Douchebag at the 50, Douchebag cuts right at the 45, Douchebag has some room, Douchebag is in the clear, Douchebag is going to take it all the way! Look at that Douchebag go!” And John Madden would say: “I said at the top of the broadcast the Rams had to contain Douchebag. When you have an open Douchebag on the field that’s a big problem for a defense.”

I figured coming out of USC Reggie Douchebag’s jersey would be a big seller, but apparently even as a struggling college student he did not need my $1,000. He must have had income elsewhere. So my fantasy went unfulfilled.

I had hope with Rudy Gay when it looked like he would either lead U Conn to the NCAA title or be the first player drafted, but neither of those happened, and now he plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, and even someone as desperate as I will not wear a Grizzlies jersey.

But now Randall is back from two years of injuries to be a factor in the Patriots’ defensive backfield, and hopefully Rudy is improving in Memphis so he can sign for a team that actually plays in the NBA, and now with Tyson making headlines in track and field, young Gay children will have someone to point to and say they’re not gay and neither am I.

And maybe someday the kids of the Smith’s and Jones’ who harrassed me will come home one day and say, “Daddy when I grow up I want to be just like that Gay guy!”

Then revenge shall be mine.


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