Playing Dumb with Homophobes on Twitter

I never mentioned their hate. It was interesting.

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“Megan Rapinoe — Go U.S.A!” by Michel Ravey is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

I’ve discovered a new way to deal with racist, sexist and homophobic comments online. It’s deliciously fun.

Last year, Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe, a lesbian couple, graced the cover of ESPN’s famed Body Issue, sans clothes. Bird is a WMBA All-Star and Rapinoe an NWSL World Cup winning soccer player.

After Rapinoe took the World Cup by storm, old tweets from when the 2018 ESPN Body Issue hit press resurfaced. The comments were mind boggling.

The Body Issue has been around for 11 years. It’s featured hundreds of photo of bare athletes with one intention: celebrating the abilities, talents and sheer magnificent of athletes bodies and how they move.

I don’t recall anyone losing their mind when Rapinoe posed in the issue by herself in 2014. They sure did with her new portrait which included her partner.

Comments ranged from, “This is nothing anyone needs to see” to “I find this absolutely disgusting.”

I can’t leave that alone. So I went in. And I played dumb. And I mean really dumb. I removed the assumption that they took offense that it was a gay couple. I treated the situation like is was anyone else in that picture. I acted like their sexual orientation couldn’t possibly be a reason to be upset.

I questioned people about what was bothersome about the human form. What troubled them about celebrating athleticism? Shouldn’t we celebrate all bodies and what they’re capable of?

I forced the issue in the most passive aggressive way I could find. If you’re going to take offense to someone because of their gender, sexual orientation or race, I’m going to make you say it.

What happened was interesting. No one could say it. No one came right out and clarified that they exception they took to the photo was the fact that is was a gay couple.

I believe the reason for this is that the people making homophobic comments know, on some level, that their comments don’t make sense. Homophobia isn’t logical. When people back you into a corner to say it out loud and speak hatred, it’s hard.

They made general statements like, “I just don’t think it’s okay.” When pressed for why, they backed off into the ether. That was fine with me because that’s where hate belongs.

I’ve done it several other times when someone criticizes female politicians or actresses, when someone looks to the color of someone’s skin to find fault or blames a person’s religion for what they perceive as undesirable traits. It’s amazing how quickly people back down from my playing dumb.

It gives me a bit of a laugh but it also gives me a slight glimmer of hope.

If these people can register even the slightest bit of shame in their thinking, maybe that’s actually a small step in the right direction. Maybe there is a glimmer of sensibility in these folks. A smidge of humanity.

It’s not easy for some people to undo years and years of deeply ingrained prejudices. And, no, it doesn’t justify having them. I find nothing wrong with asking people to look a little deeper. I’m just here to hold the mirror.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre

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