Everyone loves a funny list. 'The 10 Most Awkward Yearbook Photos' or '99 Cute Kittens' – Buzzfeed made them popular online and radio morning shows are notorious for them. They are quick and dirty ways to touch upon topical issues and famous celebrities. Most of all, they get a quick laugh.
The topic of conversation moved to Jason Collins, an 'out' gay basketball player, who last week signed a second 10-day deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
Special K jokingly gave five reasons why having a gay player on your team would be a good thing. (They made several jokes regarding "balls" and said the sponsor of the list was Dick's Sporting Goods.) All five were tasteless and homophobic…to say the least. One joke mentioned Collins wearing women's underwear.
Special K: The top 5 best things about being an openly gay NBA player. Sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods…where you can go in and see a big picture of d—k on the wall…d—ks is a big deal, wouldn’t you agree, Gary [a co-host who is gay]? They have all kinds of balls in there…they sell sporting equiptment, things that you lift, grab, pull…
Ebony: What grade are y’all in? Please just pluck my eyebrows out one by one. If you say d—ks one more time, I’m leaving!
5. You never have to worry about your ex embarrassing you on Basketball Wives.
4. You save a lot of NBA money because you’re not making it rain in the strip club.
3. When coach says you have to go low on the post, you know just what to do.
2. When NBA groupies at hotels throw panties at you, you can put them to good use. Gary, can’t you speak on that?
1. If you play center, you get the chance to handle a lot of balls in the middle. Because that’s the position the center plays…a lot of balls come through the middle and he gets to grab those.
According to Special K's bio, "His voice is heard by millions in over 65 affiliate markets. He has amassed tens of thousands of followers on social media." And Rickey Smiley has over 1.4 million followers on Twitter. While morning radio shows are known for pushing the limits, radio hosts have an opportunity to dispel stereotypes and misinformation. Many of us get our day started listening to these shows and what we hear often propels the conversations we have throughout the day with friends and colleagues. Homophobia is not funny.
When I asked Tiq Milan, GLAAD Senior Media Strategist, for his thoughts, here's what he said:
"Gay black men are constantly shamed and devalued because of their sexuality. Disguising that shame in humor doesn't make it any less hurtful or detrimental."
Instead of taking my criticisms into consideration and at least acknowledging my feelings on the matter, I got this:
Rickey Smiley's response (or lack thereof) was especially disappointing.
But, I wasn't the only listener offended.
Special K's defense: "Equal opportunity"
If Special K really is friends with LGBT folks, it might be best to keep the offensive humor within his social circle.
This is what both Special K and Rickey Smiley are missing:
But still, he doesn't get it.
Consider an LGBT person of color who is a listener and who may be struggling with their identity and afraid to come out to their friends and family. Making jokes based on demeaning stereotypes may only push them further into the closet. Instead of being part of the conversation, LGBT people are the butt of your insensitive joke. You're not laughing with us, you're laughing at us.
It's time for Special K and comedians like him to step up their game and stop making simple-minded jokes that offend the minority to please the majority. Instead of using Gary, Jason Collins or anyone else as the punch line based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, why not elevate your comedic style and stop taking cheap shots at an already marginalized group?