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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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