VOICES: Here’s a better punishment for those who hurl that ’other’ f-word

Cater Robert Waldron
Cater Robert Waldron

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This guest opinion column by Robert Waldron appeared on the Dayton Daily News’ Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Aug. 30. Little and others were asked to reflect on a gay slur used by then-Cincinnati Reds and Fox Sports Ohio broadcaster Thom Brennaman on a live mic during a Aug. 19 Reds’ game. This news organization is not printing the slur in question. Other columns that appeared on the pages are linked below.

Maya Angelou said it best, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That’s my favorite quote from Ms. Angelou. People can say many things, but it is their actions that show us best who they are.

ExploreThom Brennaman used anti-gay slur: What we know now

On Aug. 19, during a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Kansas City Royals, announcer Thom Brennaman dropped the f-bomb on an open microphone — no, not that f bomb; the f­-bomb that gay men and others have had weaponized against them for years. Three little letters that carry so much sting.

As a gay, Black, father of two, I am well aware of many words that can sting.

ExploreVOICES: To understand why the F-word is an ugly slur, you need to understand its violent origin

With an adult daughter on the front lines of fighting for justice and a young son forming his opinion of the world around him, I want better for them. They should not be listening to a baseball game or a political speech and have to be reminded of the hatred that lives in people’s hearts.

Of course, Brennaman apologized after he realized he’d been caught. It’s an apology we’ve heard many times before. “It’s not who I am. I’m sorry if this offended anyone.” Blah, blah, blah ... Despite his “sincerest apology,” Brennaman saw immediate consequences. He lost his job.

What’s the big deal, right? It’s just a word.

ExploreROBINSON: Let them talk, but don’t let their venom and vinegar define you

How can three little letters do so much damage? We even use it as a term of endearment among friends within the LGBTQA community sometimes. We probably shouldn’t, but we do.

It’s certainly not being used as a term of endearment when I’m standing in my front yard where I display a rainbow flag, and cars drive by and passengers yell it at me.

ExploreVOICES: Just blow a kiss... and vote

It wasn’t a term of endearment when it was yelled, followed by a beer bottle thrown at my partner’s head many years ago. Many of our trans brothers and sisters weren’t feeling the love as they lay on the ground, being kicked, punched and left for dead.

(Back row, left to right) Saul Caplan (Branch Rickey), Robert Culpepper (Clancy Hope), Edward Hill (Paul Robeson), (front row, left to right) Robert-Wayne Waldron (Joe Louis), Shaun Diggs (Jackie Robinson), and Franklin Johnson (Bill “Bojangles” Robinson) comprise the cast of the Dayton Theatre Guild’s production of “Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting” slated Jan. 24-Feb. 9. CRAIG ROBERTS/CONTRIBUTED
(Back row, left to right) Saul Caplan (Branch Rickey), Robert Culpepper (Clancy Hope), Edward Hill (Paul Robeson), (front row, left to right) Robert-Wayne Waldron (Joe Louis), Shaun Diggs (Jackie Robinson), and Franklin Johnson (Bill “Bojangles” Robinson) comprise the cast of the Dayton Theatre Guild’s production of “Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting” slated Jan. 24-Feb. 9. CRAIG ROBERTS/CONTRIBUTED

It wasn’t endearment on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, for Matthew Shepard as he was beaten and tied to a fence.

ExploreVOICES: When it comes to the ’other’ F-word, ’we cannot claim ignorance of its impact any longer’

Maybe losing one’s job for their words isn’t an appropriate punishment for people like Thom Brennaman. Maybe they should spend some time talking to gay teens who have attempted suicide, or families of dead members of our LGBTQA community whose lives were violently taken. Maybe if they could see the results of their words, they might actually change who they are, not just apologize for PR damage control.

Robert Waldron owns Catering By Rob! He is vice president of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center board.