Friday, June 11, 2010

Was Johnny Baseball Homophobic?

Tommy and I went to see "Johnny Baseball" at the ART last week.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Louise Kennedy's review of the show, in which she stated that some of the jokes in it were "cheaply homophobic".

I suppose there are many things a reviewer might say about "johnny baseball", but "cheaply homophobic" was - to me, anyway - not among them.

At one point the character Babe Ruth says to Johnny O'Brien (aka Johnny Baseball) that he wants to "dance with him the way the men do in Europe". Or something like that, I'm totally paraphrasing.

Not exactly homophobic, at least not to me.

Perhaps the homophobia was excised from the script after the review came out, I really don't know. But there's none there, really, right now, that I could see.

But what the discussion has made me realize is that our beloved national pastime is, in itself, homophobic.

There has never been an openly gay baseball player, to my knowledge, in spite of all those rumours surrounding Nomar.

And it's an unwritten rule (much like the now-defunct ones discussed in the musical, concerning interracial relationships) that you CANNOT be openly gay and be a baseball player.

Or basketball player.

Or football player.

You also can't be President of the United States. Or serve in the Military. Or be a major Hollywood movie star. Or (unless you're Unitarian or itching for a schism) a Spiritual leader.

Hell, I'm not sure if we're even allowed to GOLF professionally.

Of course, the play "Take Me Out" was about this very subject: a major league baseball player coming out of the closet. But that story remains a fantasy. Because the truth is that an openly gay ball player would not be supported by his team, or by the fans. He would be driven out of the park. Or murdered. Seriously.

So I have to admit that I felt a little weird coming into the theatre - in many ways, the gay church - and seeing this homophobic (and, if you really want to get into it, sexist) institution being praised for its democracy and inclusion.

That's simply a pile of bullshit.

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