NBA, PSA, and Homophobia

This really doesn’t have much (anything?) to do with digital media, but I wanted to post it anyway. Apparently the NBA is joining the Ad Council and the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network to launch a new campaign targeting anti-LGBT language among teens. The commercials will air during the NBA playoff finals on more than 1,600 stations including TNT, ABC, and ESPN. The commercials star Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. Having not yet seen many of the commercials or larger aspects of the campaign I can’t say much, however, I am at the very least cautiously optimistic about the NBA addressing homophobia and anti-gay language. To say the world of professional sports is sexist and homophobic is an understatement. One doesn’t have to watch but one commercial break to see an essentializing, anti-woman, anti-non-normative sexuality commercial. This continues to baffle me ever so much in so far as advertisers continually alienate women sports fans, and trust me, we are out there and growing in numbers, but I digress, this is a topic for another day (and one in which I’ve written about in the past). I remain cautiously optimistic of the aim, approach, scope, and effectiveness of the PSAs. But at the very least I’m encouraged by the fact that the NBA is addressing anti-LGBT language. It’s at least a start at combating homophobic, hateful, and ignorant attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

 According to the GLSEN website,

The NBA has been a tremendous partner from the moment we engaged them last year,” said Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director. “The NBA’s support helps us start a conversation that hopefully will have a lasting impact with an incredibly engaged audience about the Think Before You Speak campaign’s message of respect. Anti-LGBT language is one of the most pervasive forms of harassment in schools, and the casual use of phrases like “that’s so gay” contributes to the hostile school climates that LGBT youth face across the country.

At the very least I hope this gets conversations started and raises awareness about the power of words to hurt people. There have been way too many tragic and violent reminders this year that homophobia kills. I commend the NBA for being the first professional sport league to begin to address this problem head on – and I hope the league (its players, announcers, sponsors, broadcasters) will recognize their role in contributing to or combating homophobia.

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