Friday, January 13, 2012

the guilt in liking tim tebow

Today, everyone is writing about Tim Tebow being gay for some reason. It compelled me to write a bit to get stuff out of my chest. I'm a Bronco fan, because of Tebow, and that makes me a horrible person. I realise that, but I can't help it, and I'm a bit lost at what to do.

I started caring about American Football several years ago, because of Eyeshield 21, but I never cared specifically about the NFL much. My only exposure to it came from checking sexy players in a now-defunct Yahoo e-mail group in which I met this ridiculously hot quarterback named Tim Tebow. He was still in college then, and I didn't know much about him other than that he was tall and handsome and muscular and smoking hot.

Last August, the boyfriend and I went to New York to celebrate our 6th anniversary. For some unknown reason, I had my mind set that I needed a Tim Tebow jersey. I have no idea why I became fixated on that idea since Tebow was merely one among several hot guys in football, but I simply needed that goddamn jersey. Not wanted – I NEEDED it. After a quick search, I found out he now played for the Denver Broncos. I came to know of the Broncos a long ago from South Park, and finding out Tebow was a Bronco made it an easy choice to support them. Plus, the Broncos jersey is simply gorgeous.

Getting the jersey was a challenge in itself. New York City stores didn't carry Denver apparel, so I had to buy it online. The thing is: the official NFL store wouldn't accept my Brazilian credit card. Eventually, I did find FootballFanatics, an online store that shipped to Brazil, meaning they accepted my Brazilian American Express card (that was accepted in every single brick-and-mortar store in NYC... go figure), and I bought it. I wasn't sure regular free shipping would arrive in time, so I even spent an extra 20 bucks for overnight shipping. $100 for a shirt –pretty expensive, but worth it.

That was August. We arrived in São Paulo in early September – the week the NFL season would start. I already knew football rules (at least most of them), but I had very little NFL baggage. I knew only a handful of the teams, basically no players, and I didn't know exactly how the League worked. Since I was on vacation from work, I decided I would learn it all before the first kickoff. And I did – I spend days researching everything and ended up with a pretty decent notion of everything NFL. Including that Tebow wasn't a starter, but merely a back-up that probably wouldn't get a chance to play any time soon. And that nobody really liked how he played – he was a joke. Considering I knew Tebow from college, where he was outstanding, the idea he was actually a bad player took a while to settle in my mind.

To make a very long story short, Tebow became a starter, upset several preconceived notions in the NFL, and my Broncos, which, at first, I adopted mostly because of Tebow, but had grown on me to the point I consider myself a full-fledged Bronco fan, Tebow or no Tebow, are two games away from the Super Bowl. What a road that was – one I don’t regret taking part in. And now, here we are, January 2012. Tebow is now basically everywhere you look, including gay websites… which makes my guilt less and less bearable.

The huge problem is Tim Tebow's religion. He's a hardcore Christian who supports horrible pro-"family" groups. While he has never stated specific hatred or dislike towards gays, homophobia and bigotry are basically implicit in everything he believes – heck, on everything he IS, because he IS his faith. I even read gay people calling gay Tebow fans "chickens who support the Colonel" – that made me feel awful, because I do support him as much as any Bronco fan.

Some gay people I met who supported Tebow say the fact he never stated he is homophobic allows us to give him the benefit of doubt. That's an argument I used before to calm my conscience, but I feel it's unadulterated hypocrisy. He's from a family of preachers and he behaves like some sort of incarnation of pure heedless faith. I honestly cannot see how he could be anything other than disapproving of homosexuality. Thinking otherwise feels to me way too much like lying to myself. I'm not sure I can use that argument, especially after Denver refused to take part in the It Gets Better project. "Benefit of doubt" becomes even harder after that attitude. I mean, I can see why the Denver Broncos wouldn’t do it, it’s a football organization – unfortunately, there’s a lot of internalized homophobia in football and things could, and would, get blown out of proportions. But individual players shouldn’t have excuses, especially Tim, who prides himself in being such a selfless, charitable person.

But, as I said, I am a Bronco fan now. I've followed the team through everything we've been through, and as several analysts have pointed out, this Broncos season has been one of the most remarkable in many, many years. They've grown on me, and football has become something I really enjoy. Tebow too has grown on me, not only as a hot guy, but as my quarterback and someone I wish only the best. And there lies my dilemma: I'm supporting someone who probably hates me and is opposed to everything I defend.

I'm not sure what to do. For the most part, I've ignored Tebow's religiousness or my homosexuality by keeping separate "brain switches" ("sports fan" and "gay") that I flip depending on the occasion. When I'm being a sport fan, my homosexuality is irrelevant, and when I'm reading gay stuff, what are sports again?. But that artificial separation of my own character is rapidly faltering now that every single person in the internet talks about Tebow, even gay people. It's like I'm being outed as a "traitor to our cause" (not literally, but metaphorically, in my guilty conscience) for supporting someone like Tebow. And it gets to me, because I don't want to support a bigot – it's contradictory to everything I believe in. The thing is, that bigot isn't a walking stereotype like Rick Santorum (or his Brazilian equivalent, Jair Bolsonaro) - he's gorgeous, he's silent about the issue and he's my team's quarterback. But does that mean just because of that he should be given a free pass? Wouldn’t that be basically supporting intolerance, crumbling my coherence and making my arguments towards equality all but meaningless?

I sincerely cannot answer those questions. It’s hard to be a gay Bronco fan.