As news of Jason Collins' coming out lit up my Twitter feed yesterday, I got an idea for a hashtag that could become a meme that drives a campaign.
The hashtag/meme - #GayMay.
The campaign - during the month of May, every gay athlete in professional sports decides that, while their sexual orientation isn't anyone else's business, anyone who would care more about that than about their professional performance deserves to be offended, so screw 'em.
And they all come out. In every league - NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL.
Every. Single. One.
By June 1, we're done. There's no one left to come out. The only thing left for anyone to do is to work through their own thoughts and feelings about the matter.
By July 1, the vast majority of people have made it clear that they don't care. And those who do care, who are offended by other people's being, have done whatever they feel like they need to do to express themselves: they've written their letters to the editor, they've sold their season tickets, they've canceled their ESPN subscriptions. Whatever.
And on July 4th, gay athletes, straight athletes and gay and straight non-athletes all celebrate the measure of freedom that we have in this country to be who we are and to disagree with whomever with disagree with and to not need every other single person's approval.
By then, every athlete who has lived with fear of being discovered is finally breathing normally, the nation has recovered from the goshawful shock and trauma of learning that X and Y and Z are gay, and rabid sports fans can focus their rabidity more purely on home runs, touchdowns, and dunk shots.
Would there be messiness and downright ugliness along the way? Yep. But #GayMay could accelerate the process of getting past it (as much as we can get past it - there may always be a smoldering ember, just as racism is unlikely to disappear entirely).
As I see it, the alternative to #GayMay is to have one athlete after another come out over an extended period of time, with protracted discussion that largely consists of speculation about who might be next, who is denying rumors, etc., etc. ad nauseum, until the collective voice of the public says more and more often, "I don't care. We don't care."
And isn't that the real goal? To have most folks not care, and when someone does care enough to consider it a problem, to let it be their problem, not the athlete's?
#GayMay could help us get there more quickly, but only if it is big enough to at least appear comprehensive, only if enough athletes say, "Now is the time," to encourage their fellow-athletes to say, "Now is the time."
Athletes, I am a total non-sports fan, so I don't know any of you, but if you are gay and have feared coming out, you may be surprised, as Jason Collins has been, by how much support you receive from the public. But even before that, if you take inspiration from Jason Collins, you can give inspiration to one another. And if enough of you do that, then after a point, it won't matter much what anybody else thinks.
I think that point can come by May 31st.
So: #GayMay. Anybody in?