JEFF PEARLMAN

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The unfair plight of Joey Votto

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When, a few weeks ago, I implored a gay baseball player to come out of the closet, I meant that—on his own—someone should step forward.

Let me stress that—on his own.

Over the past few days, the sports blogs and fan boards have been humming with the “news” that Joey Votto, Cincinnati’s exceptional first baseman, is gay. That, the word goes, is why Votto was been on the disability list since May 30 with what the team has termed “stress-related issues.”

Oy.

Just to make it clear: This isn’t how the whole coming-out-of-the-closet thing is supposed to go. If Votto is, indeed, gay (and I’m by no means saying he is), he should come out when he feels comfortable, or not at all. On a whole, I am soooo sick and tired of the is-he-or-isn’t-he-gay? bullsh$# we affix to celebrities. Why, oh why, are we so curious as to whether, oh, Adam Lambert is having sex with another man? How is that even remotely interesting?

Answer: Because life is often boring, and we always see excitement/scandal in the existence of others. We want Joey Votto to be gay, because then we can gossip and snicker and tell our friends—at least until the hot new rumor comes up.

A ballplayer should come out because it’s important for America to see that gay does not mean weird or freaky or diseased. But nobody needs to be forced out via rumor and innuendo. It’s not fair and it’s not righteous.

For the record, Votto says his stress was related to his father’s death—not sexuality.

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