02 February 2014

Chris Kluwe Didn't Punt On His Principles

You get laid off from a job or your contract isn't renewed. That, in spite of your excellent performance and evaluations.  

You feel--understandably--upset and frustrated, perhaps even angry.  But you can explain it to yourself, at least somewhat:  The economy is bad. Earnings are down.  Enrollment dropped.  The company or organization is changing its focus.  Or some new owners or management team want to bring in "their people". 

However, if you're transgender/transsexual or, for that matter, lesbian or gay--or are even suspected of being so or merely sympathising too much with us--you can't help but to wonder whether your identity has something to do with the fact that today you don't have a job you had yesterday.

Sometimes you just know it's true. And, when you say as much--or merely raise the question--you're accused of being "too sensitive" or "paranoid", or of wanting "special treatment".

Chris Kluwe finds himself in the situation I've described.  For eught seasons, as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, he was one of the best punters in the NFL. A self-described libertarian, he spoke and wrote against a proposed Marriage Amendment in Minnesota which, essentially, would have defined a marriage as a union between a man and a woman and specified the rights that pertain to such a relationship. He also voiced support for same-sex marriage although he is married to the women who has borne his two children.

Kluwe also wrote a letter to Maryland assembly member Emmet Burns, in which he defended Baltimore Ravens' linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's right to speak up for LGBT rights.

As per the request of the Vikings' owner, he always made it clear that he was expressing his views as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Vikings' organization.  Still, it was apparently too much for his coaches, one of whom openly expressed his homophobia.   

Kluwe, to his credit, didn't let the slurs slip by.  And, as he relates in an article he wrote for Deadspin, it probably led to his release from the Vikings.

Not so long ago, it would have seemed preposterous to use "NFL" and "LGBT rights" in the same sentence.  Thankfully, the situation is changing.  But, as the experiences of Kluwe and Ayanbadejo show, there's still a long way to today, as Super Bowl XLVIII is to be played.

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