On yesterday, a casual acquaintance again invited me to watch an afternoon of college football with him and a few of his friends and colleagues. Evidently this is a weekly ritual for them. And so as to not offend him by turning down his invitation yet again, I decided to go. But just as I had suspected, I did not fit in at all.
First of all, the homophobic remarks were very much in abundance. Perhaps, because we were a crowd of men stuffed into such a small space around such a huge television (Was the host trying to overcompensate for something?) that the men were trying to reassure one another of their heterosexual bona fides. I do suspect many of the remarks were aimed at me.
And I didn’t help my case any when I lingered just a little too long in the room where, for whatever reason, the women watched the game separate from the men. But when I passed through on my way to the bathroom, someone asked me about a book, and a very stimulating conversation ensued around a topic I am passionate about—books.
Plus, though their television was smaller, the women’s room was much larger and more accommodating, which is why I suggested that the men move from our small, cramped quarters into the room with the women which had room to spare. I guess this suggestion made me even more suspect in their eyes.
But it probably was my objection to the continued homophobic remarks that solidified their opinion of me. However, perhaps they do not realize the homoerotic imagery inherent in the sport they profess to love so much.
Keep in mind that the potential for homosexuality is greatest in those exclusionary spaces inhabited only by men—street gangs, military barracks, and sports locker rooms to name a few that come readily to mind. And even further, violence or the potential to do violence often elides doubts about male sexuality and sometimes acts as a precondition for outward shows of affection between males.
With that said, let’s examine football. I will mention the opening stanch of the quarterback, hunched over the upturned behind of the center, his hands secured between the center’s legs only in passing. To mention that seems like a cheap shot.
But let’s look first at the aim of the sport. The whole object of football is for one group of men to violently invade the territory of another group of men with the end goal of penetrating their most sacred of places, the endzone, with a cylindrical shaped object, a phallic symbol. Sounds a bit like prison rape, does it not?
And if the former group of men is successful in the completion of their mission, or if the latter group of men is able to violently rip that phallic symbol away or take it away by any other means, a celebration ensues.
And in that celebration precipitated by violence, the usual rules of male to male affection are stripped away. The men are free to grab each others’ behinds and embrace and roll around on the ground still trapped in that love embrace. Yesterday during one such celebration, one player placed his hands tenderly on either side of his teammate’s face and brought his face into such close proximity that the two faces were almost touching, and they seemed to gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes as they congratulated one another on the violence done.
And when the violence is complete, the players retire to the locker room, where convinced by the violent spectacle they all just took part in that no one among them is gay, even the tiny little kicker, they prance around naked as the day they were born, confident in their heterosexuality. I have seen it written that to insert a gay man in such an environment would disrupt the atmosphere and lead a plummet in team morale.
Do they really think there is not a gay man among them already or does the violence work to assuage any suspicions they may have?
If after a particularly good performance, the glee club began grabbing each others’ buttocks and embracing and rolling about on the ground or gazing into each others’ eyes before retiring to the locker room where they stripped naked and pranced about, what would the reaction be? Absent of the specter of violence, I’m sure the giggles and the winks and the jokes would abound.
But I do not mean this as a snide attempt to get back at that obnoxious group of men from yesterday; I just wanted to share some of my observations with you to determine if anyone agrees or disagrees. Now I am preparing myself for an evening of football here in the sanctuary of my own home with my wife even though she does ask the most annoying questions just as I like it.