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Identity politics is a closet issue

Saturday, May 04, 2013 - Updated: 3:31 PM

I've never sought the spotlight.

Though I'm coming out to the world, I intend to guard my privacy.

I'm making this blanket statement in part to keep rumors and misunderstandings at bay.

I'm not just a white, Catholic Republican. I'm not just a Reagan conservative. I'm a heterosexual.

Like Jason Collins of the Wash-ington Wizards, I just want every-one in America to know my sexual orientation.

And like Collins -- the veteran NBA center who became the first major male professional athlete to announce he was gay and got himself plastered on the cover of Sports Illustrated -- I just want to protect my privacy.

I won't go into any more specifics about my personal life or answer any questions at this press conference.

I'll only say that I'm happily married and that my partner is not a man. Let's leave it at that, please, because I deserve my privacy.

With all due apologies to Jason Collins, or whoever actually wrote the words I borrowed from his Sports Illustrated cover story, this whole gay-sports thing is nuts and about to get nuttier.

Collins made headline news by coming out as the first gay NBA player. As I write this, the country's top sports "journalists" are working overtime to break a story on the first openly gay NFL player.

Then will come the National Hockey League. Then Major League Baseball. Then Major League Paintball...

Not long ago -- OK, 50 years ago -- Sports Illustrated put athletes on its covers because they did things only Mickey Mantle, Jimmy Brown, Bobby Orr or Wilt Chamberlain could do on the playing field, not in the sack.

Now Jason Collins's sexual affiliation is the biggest news in sports? Does anyone know, or care, how many points per game he scores or how many shots he blocks?

No. Being gay and his being willing to announce it to the entire sports world is what's important now.

So let's get this story straight: Collins is gay -- or rather, a gay center. That's wonderful. I couldn't be happier for him. Maybe he'll be able to get a role in a network sitcom when he retires.

So what's the real issue here? It's not about discrimination. Being gay is irrelevant. It didn't hurt or help Collins on or off the court.

No bigoted coach ever said to him, "Jason, I don't care how many rebounds or blocked shots you have. You're gay. From now on we're starting the heterosexual."

I'm sure most of Collins' family and teammates have known he was gay for years, but because they're decent and good people who cared about his privacy, they kept the big sports "news" to themselves.

This isn't about sports at all. It's partly a case of identity politics.

That's why Obama was in such a rush to congratulate Collins on his courage to come out and say he was a proud member of the Democrat Party's most loyal sex-based constituency.

Collins' coming out is also the latest example of the overhyphenization of America. We're no longer male- or female- or black- or white- or Latino- Americans.

Now we're also gay or straight.

"I'm not a center, I'm a gay-center."

"I'm not a gay switch-hitting centerfielder, I'm a bisexual-switch-hitting centerfielder."

Who will be the first openly gay NFL quarterback or long snapper?

The first openly gay left-handed Latino relief pitcher? The first openly gay goalie? The first openly gay goalie from a country other than Canada?

I don't care. Gays have been playing pro sports forever. Big deal. No one asked and no one told.

Sports should be about winning and teamwork and accomplishment. Owners, coaches and fans don't care what color their star players' skin is, what their ethnicities are or who they sleep with -- and neither should the rest of us.

Wake me up when this embarrassing gay-pride parade is over, please.

MICHAEL REAGAN is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant,

and a nationally syndicated columnist.

     

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