The web has been abuzz over LA Lakers' player Kobe Bryant telling a Twitter follower not to use gay as an insult.
But is Bryant now a professional sports ally to the gay community? Let's take a closer look:
When one of Bryant's followers told another fan "your gay" (sic), Bryant responded, "using 'your gay' as a way to put someone down ain't ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab."
And when another fan pointed out that Bryant himself called a referee a "faggot" just two years ago, Kobe responded "Exactly! That wasn't cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others."
Patrick Burke, the co-founder of the LGBT-inclusive sports video campaign You Can Play told the queer sports blog Outsports, "Athletes who use casual homophobia can be educated on this issue. Athletes who are given a chance to learn from their mistakes can become some of the LGBT community’s most valuable supporters.”
But Outsports editor Cyd Zeigler Jr. also points out that, apart from this noteworthy Twitter exchange, Bryant has done nothing else of note to make up for calling a ref a faggot two years ago — he hasn't done the requisite PR walk of shame with Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamantion (GLAAD), he hasn't given any time to LGBT youth or sports organizations. Nada.
In fact, last we recall, Bryant actually appealled the $100,000 fine that the National Basketball Association slapped him with for calling the ref a faggot.
So far we can't find any news report saying whether he paid up or won his appeal. But it matters. Especially since his "apology" basically said that his words shouldn't be taken literally and that they were not meant to offend anyone.
It's easy to see why that's a pitiful apology. According to Bryant, he didn't literally mean that the male referee was a man who has sex with other men, he just meant that he's a stupid moron (you know, a faggot). And Bryant's use of the word was never meant to offend any literal faggots, only the figurative faggot refereeing the game. Nice.
We're not trying to bring up old shit. It's obvious from Bryant's latest tweet exchange that he regrets his past and wants others to learn from his mistake. But the question about his NBA fine matters.
Because while we applaud him using his influence to discourage casual homophobia on Twitter (especially considering the depressingly frequent use of "faggot," "dyke" and "That's so gay" on Twitter), his message would mean a lot less coming from someone who offered a crap apology to begin with and then refused to professionally atone for his action afterwards.
If Bryant really wants to make a difference and show that he's really sorry for his two-year-old f-bomb, it's time for him to fess up about the fine or, in other words, to put his money where his mouth is.