EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION
Executive Editor CHRIS CRAM
Edtor BINNIE FISHER - bfisher'ntaistonvoicccom
Production Editor KIKI CARR
taiK-londeilts: LOU CHIBBARO, JR. JOE CREA.
LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN. LAUREL FAUST,
MIKE FLEMING, MATTHEW HENNIE. RYAN LEE,
BRIAN MOYLAN, KEVIN NAFF KEN SAIN,
CHRISTOPHER SEELY. STEVE WEINSTEIN
Contrtxftrs JOHNNY HOOKS. JOSEF MOLNAR,
JASON VICTOR SERINUS. MUBARAK DAH1R.
JA CHAPMAN, AND ARJAN TIMMERMANS
Phctographen DALTON DEHART,
Webmaster ARAM VARTIAN
General Manager JASON WILSON
JENNIFER HOLLAND - jholrandiahoustonvoice.com
Classified Sales/ Office Administrator
JOHNNY HOOKS - |hookso houstonvoice.com
National Advertising Representative
Rivendell Media • 212-242-6863
A WindowMedia Publication
Publisher- WINDOW MEDIA LLC
President- WILLIAM WAYBOURN
Editorial Director- CHRIS CRAIN
Chief Financial Officer RON VERBLAAUW. CPA
Corporate Controller- BARNETTE HOLSTON
Art Director-ROB BOEGER
Director of Operations MIKE KITCHENS
Director of Sales- STEVEN GUERR1NI
Director of Classified Sales- NATHAN REGAN
Established 1974 as the Montrose Star.
500 Lovett Blvd. Suite 200
Houston, Texas 77006
Contents copyright 2004
Office hours: 9 am. to 530 p.m. weekdays
To submit a letter
Letters should be fewer than 400 words. We reserve
the right to edit for content and length. We will withhold names upon request, but you must include your
name and phone number for verification. Please send
mail to Houston Voce. 500 Lovett Blvd. Suite 200,
Houston. Texas 77006; fax (713) 529-9531 or e-mail
to editor ahoustonvoKe.com. Opinions expressed
therein do not reflect those of the Houston Voice.
All material in Houston Votes is protected by federal
Wight law and may not be reproduced without the
written consent of Houston Voice. The sexual orientation
at advertisers, photoqrd*t»-*tv writers and cartoonists
published herem is neither inferred or implied T|**
appearance ot names or pctonal representation
does not necessary indicate the sexual or■entat-on
of that person or persons
Houston Voice accepts unsolicited editorial
material but cannot take responsibility for its return.
TTw editor reserves the noht to accept reject or edit
any suturussion All rights revert to authors
upon publication GurrJermes For freelance
MMM '"■ Mtth 'iphi 'oguest
FEBRUARY 20, 2004
The power of
the *f word'
Japanese pitcher's gay pom past makes him
the latest target of homophobia in sports, where
athletes are petrified of being called a faggot.'
By CYDZEICLER. JR.
HEN KAZUHITO TADANO, A
minor league pitcher with the
Cleveland Indians, held a
press conference several
weeks ago to apologize for
participating in a gay adult
video, the hopes of gay sports
fans skyrocketed. Finally, there would
be an openly gay athlete in the
Majors — and a porno star to boot.
Tadano said in the press conference
that he and other teammates participated
in the video when they were financially
struggling students at Rikkyo University.
This was not news to the sports
world. Tadano was one of the highest-
rated college pitchers in Japan in 2002,
and was expected to be a high draft
pick in the Japanese professional baseball league. When word spread that
year of Tadano's appearance in the
video, the commissioner of the league
told every team not to draft him.
It's no shocker that Tadano, in his
press conference, pulled a Mike Piazza
right off the bat: "I'm not gay," the 23-
year-old pitcher said. "I'd like to clear
that fact up right now."
For gay sports fans, the story became a
non-story Tadano would be no gay Jackie
Robinson. The door for gay athletes in pro
sports would still be closed. We would
continue to lack any gay role models in
the four major professional team sports.
THE FACT THAT TADANO IS JAPANESE
also contributed to the quick disappearance of the story. If it had been Andy
Pettit or some other hunky, in-shape
Anglo pitcher, Web sites would have collapsed from the flood of traffic trying to
download or order the video.
What is telling about Tadano's
story was buried in the last line of
most of the press reports. When asked
whether the name calling from rowdy
fans would bother him, Tadano jokingly replied (through an interpreter), "I
don't understand English, so it doesn't
The implication was that it would
matter if he did understand English. If
he did understand what the drunken fans
along the first-base line in Shea Stadium
were screaming, it just might get to him.
This is one of the main reasons athletes give us when we ask why no one
has come out. They say they'll get
harassed by teammates and fans to the
point that it will seriously interfere
with their play. It would simply be too
painful to be called a faggot, a homo or
queer and take to the field.
When a Page Six item in the New
York Post two years ago alluded to the
possibility that New York Mets catcher
Mike Piazza was gay, despite having not
been named specifically, Piazza felt the
need for an immediate press conference
to proclaim his heterosexuality.
The last thing he'd want to hear from
fans and other players is the "f-word."
Yet, athletes and coaches pull no
punches when they tease and harass
other people. Because the f-word is the
lowest form of degradation, coaches use
it to motivate players ("You're running
like a faggot"), players use it to motivate
one another ("Don't throw like a faggot"), and now men in the front office
are using it to attack former players.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John
Rocker complained about riding the New
York subway next to "queers" with AIDS.
Tennis pro Goran Ivanisevic said
that an opponent looked like "a faggot."
Pro football player Garrison Hearst said
he didn't want any "faggots" on his team.
New York Giant Jeremy Shockey
called former New York Giants coach
Bill Parcells the worst word he could
come up with: "homo." And an executive with the Detroit Lions called a
player who used to play on his team a
Despite their fears that someone may
call them the same thing, athletes at
every level throw these hateful epithets
around with reckless abandon.
Every team in the Japanese league passed over pitcher
Kazuhito Tadano when they discovered he had performed in a gay pom video, but the Cleveland Indians
were willing to sign him. Still, at a press conference last
month, Tadano's first words were denying he was gay.
SO LET'S GIVE THE CLEVELAND
Indians two cheers for doing what no
team in the Japanese pro baseball
league would do: associate themselves
That is not a small feat. In sports, it's
guilt by association. Openly gay high
school track coach Eric "Gumby"
Anderson has talked about how his team
in Southern California became, to opponents, "the gay team" when he came out.
Athletes continue to give power to the
one thing they fear more than striking
out in Game 7 of the World Series or
dropping a touchdown pass in the Super
Bowl: someone calling him the f-word.
Tadano may not know English; but,
whether he's gay or not, he's going to
become painfully acquainted this season with words like homo, queer, sissy
and the f-word.
Forget about opposing
fans. That's just what his
teammates will call him.
Cyd Zejgler is associ-
tf ate editor of the New
York Blade, a paper
affiliated with this publication; he can be reached at