Yesterday I wrote about Brenda Novak’s Coulda Been A Cowboy and how I was disappointed that the NFL-centered story perpetuated the cultural myth of the scheming woman who lies about being raped.
Well, today I am cleansing my palette by writing about Brad Vance’s Given The Circumstances.
This novel follows two male athletes from their junior year in college through their professional careers, showing how they navigate both the world of pro sports and their own personal lives as gay men in a long-term relationship.
I just loved the story. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking but also hopeful.
But it’s also very topical. And Vance is responding directly to the conversation around NFL players and homophobia.
Here are some of the best quotes:
You can beat a dog or a wife or a man in a bar but kiss another man and they’ll never let you play football.
Jacob snorted. “I doubt that. All those men grabbing ass, snapping each other with towels, showering together, wrestling each other to the ground? You gonna tell me there’s nothing gay about that?”
“Ha. Yeah, but that’s why they’re so freaked out about the gayness, right? Because it’s all so…”
“Full of repressed homoeroticism.”
“Yeah, that. So homoerotic that if any of them broke the rules and really were homo, it would spoil the fun.”
“Watch out for promophobia is all.”
“Professional athlete homophobia. You know. What happens when a bunch of guys spend so much naked time together, share hotel rooms, lots of body contact on the field.”
“So they’re always saying ‘no homo’ because it’s all pretty gay.”
There was something about reading these things coming out of the mouths of characters who in the NFL, not feminists or sports/cultural critics analyzing from the outside. I think there was something powerful about that reality being juxtaposed with a gay relationship that was loving, if not perfect or always healthy.