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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

OSU alum on CBS 'Face the Nation,' Jason Collins comes out, and Boy Scouts in local paper

Jason Collins comes out on May, 2013 cover of Sports Illustrated

PHOTO: professional NBA player comes out on May, 2013 cover of Sports Illustrated: Jason Collins, telling Sports Illustrated, "I'm a 34-year-old center. I'm black. And I'm gay." The story was saturation covered by the media, including a phone call from the President of the United States and a mention of it in his press conference in the Oval Office.

George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) football team as pictured in 'The 1912 Orange' yearbook, p. 159.

PHOTO: (above) George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 football team at Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) as pictured in "The 1912 Orange" yearbook, p. 159. See previous posts OSU gay football player 1908 (6/19/08) and Oregonian on 1912 gay panic arrests (4/25/10)

Esera Tuaolo on cover of The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover headline reads 'Gay in the NFL, A football star for nine years, former Vikings lineman Esera Tuaolo reveals the truth about homophobia in the locker room and the dangers of the pro sports closet. PLUS: His boyfriend tells his side of their romance' Esera Tuaolo is probably the most famous openly gay graduate of Oregon State University. Esera Tuaolo came out on the cover of The Advocate. ("Tackling football's closet," By Bruce C. Steele, The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover story, pp. 3, 30-39) He continues to be in the news today. See previous post OSU Esera Tuaolo gay football star (8/12/06)

The coming out story of professional basketball player Jason Collins has created much buzz. Here is my letter to the editor about the local Oregon State University angle to the story:

I never thought I would live to see every major news outlet cover America's first black President, Barack Obama, telephoning the first active professional NBA player to come out as gay, Jason Collins.

Less than a decade ago, former Oregon State University Beaver football player Esera Tuaolo told students he had felt it was too unsafe for him to come out until after retiring from his professional NFL football career.

A century ago, sensationalistic headlines in Portland newspapers reported a vice scandal involving the arrest of men for homosexual behavior that were associated with an OSU Beaver football player in the 1910 and 1912 seasons.

I now hope to see marriage equality in Oregon.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Recent news has sparked hope of marriage equality in Oregon," posted May 7, 3013)

I also watched the Sunday morning political affairs show Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer on (See "Face the Nation transcripts May 5, 2013: Benghazi and gay athletes - Issa, Rogers, Ruppersberger," accessed May 5, 2013 1:32PM) This show did a bang up job discussing gay Boy Scouts policy changes, Jason Collins coming out and the panel included two former NFL players including the OSU alum Esera Tuaolo.

At the same time I was watching Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer on CBS TV, I was also reading about local Boy Scouts policy on gays, which is very liberal as would be expected in a college town:

Bennett Hall, "A new course for Scouts?" Gazette-Times, Sunday, May 5, 2013, p. A1, A3

I had already sent my above letter to the editor before reading this story, but here is the letter I would have sent after reading it:

I painfully recall being excluded by a Boy Scouts troop due my family's religion and so it was heartening to read Bennett Hall's excellent Sunday, May 5, story, "A new course for Scouts?" The quotes from Nick Fowler, the Benton District chairman, diplomatically acknowledged the different opinions locally versus nationally.

Coincidentally, while I was reading it Bob Schieffer on "CBS Face the Nation" was also discussing the Scouts' acceptance of gay youths with his guests, including former Oregon State University alum Esera Tuaolo, and the related topic of NBA basketball player Jason Collins coming out as gay. Tuaolo said he did not come out during his career because he didn't feel safe a decade ago.

Schieffer's guests were uncomfortable discussing the race issues raised by Obama, as America's first black President, when he supported the Scouts' decision and concurrently called Jason Collins. I agree with Schieffer's opinion that younger people seem less concerned about race and sexual orientation.

These seemingly dramatic changes in public opinion have given me hope that I will also live to see marriage equality in Oregon.

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