You’re a what?

My dad was not particularly liberal in his politics, but he was reflective of his era.  However, he was very much of a humanist and I don’t think he ever discriminated against anybody because of color or sexuality.

There were black, asian, latin and Samoan skaters in Roller Derby and we never thought about it.  And even when we played in the South in the 60’s and 70’s no attempt was made to change the skaters so the visitors would have the non-whites on them.

And I know there were gay skaters, both men and women, from the 40’s on.  I can’t say that there weren’t incidents, because there were, but management never came down on the players because of their sexual preference.  And one irony is that one of the strongest and fiercest of our teams (who won a championship) were as far as I could tell all queer except for two, and I am talking about the men and women squads.  By the way, are queer and gay both acceptable or should I even care?

Photo by Ali Farid from

The reason that I even bring this up now is that I was listening to one of the Bay Area’s leading sportstalk hosts the other morning and I could tell he was trying to be “hep”.  His new on-air sidekick was a woman and he was asking about her background, etc and she mentioned that she and her wife liked to do some activity together.  And he immediately went into a dissertation about how great it was that she just said it and it was accepted and how did people like it, etc.  She was bright enough to say they should move onto something else as people were probably bored with the whole conversation.

A whole election was affected by the Republicans shouting “gay marriage!” because of  San Francisco’s decision to legalize it, and much bigger issues were ignored as the scare tactic effectively elected George Bush.  And look at the banks, the mortgages, the wars, the disenfranchisement of so many Americans (and why the hell isn’t Obama doing more to help?) and all that has followed.

America loves red herrings:  get the public focused on communists, minorities, gays, pro-choice, contraceptives, religion, etc and we can sell them whatever we want to get our selfish interests taken care of.

Roller Derby is its own society.  The  participants are drawn to this cult because there is an empowerment, a sister and brotherhood, and  so  damn much fun that just doesn’t seem to exist elsewhere.  The biggest discrimination (mostly in fun) is what to  do about Merby or dangle derby

I’m a dangler, but it doesn’t make any difference and most of you accept me as I am,  and I have no right not to  accept anyone else, nor does any person on earth.  And to be honest, as Groucho Marx said when asked to join a country club: “I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member.”

11 comments on “You’re a what?

  1. As folks see more men’s derby, concerns over it seem to fade. More and more women’s leagues are ad-hoc partnering with local men’s leagues when it works for both leagues.

    The folks I’ve actually seen trying to use this stuff as a “wedge issue” isn’t terribly surprising. All kinds of “traditionalists” (regardless of the interpretation of the term).

  2. Hi Jerry- I heard the same show, and the male host seemed to want to go on and on about his co-hosts orientation until she defused it. Too bad that orientation still has to be brought up as an issue in 2011, more than ability…

      • that was a joke 🙂 I’ve seen

        the point being that it’s just better not to make assumptions about people–or their willingness to discuss personal matters at length in public even when they’ve made casual mention of them–lest someone end up with egg on their face like this guy did. I’m sure he meant well, but it sounds like he just ended up looking foolish.

  3. Yes, times were different then. I feel though that because the original derby was a co-ed sport with men and women on the same team, even though it is alternating periods, I feel that sexual orientation was not a huge deal.

    Sexual orientation was at the time, very much in the closet but it did still exist. In some ways, sexual orientation, especially in the sports world, is a much bigger deal because more people are open about themselves.

    Fundamentalists will find a reason to target a certain group. They were once targeting mixed marriage as being “non biblical” and now they are targeting same-sex marriage as being “non biblical”. Little do they remember that the “one man, one woman” marriage that they promote is also “non biblical”. The Bible recognized polygamy.

    This year has been a revolutionary year in derby because while there were transsexual skaters in the classic game and there have been some transsexual skaters in the modern game, the world’s largest amateur roller derby association, WFTDA has recognized transsexual skaters and have provided ground rules to assure that they are at a point in their transition that makes them eligible for competitive play. I personally do not agree with their method of determining that a transsexual skater is ready for competition. I had proposed a method that is less intrusive and does not skirt the privacy laws (HIPPA). The policy is also not clear on transitioning female to male transsexuals.

    While, I was given some discouraging words by one league earlier in my life in modern derby (even though I was not planning to skate), I am happy to see that I experienced an isolated incident.

    In the women’s game, gender identity should have no bearing as long as the skater is physically, chemically and mentally transitioned to participate in a full-contact sport where everyone is an extended family.

    I love where we are going.

    with derby love…

  4. Yeah but that is how Gary Radnich is, it does not surprise me at all. By the way I purposely called out his name because there is no reason why he cannot be brought up. Just like the 30 minutes a day he has with Tony Bruno, he just likes to ramble. He has a black wife and likes to point that out.

    As for Male derby, that like women’s derby will continue to grow. Real change has to come to the sport, because we can no longer be ran like a sport with 10 teams playing for a national championship when we have over 180 in WFTDA alone

    • Please understand that I like Gary; he is a friend. And he has attempted to extend sports beyond the ordinary realm of sports radio.

      I have so many ideas (as I am sure you all have) on how the game should evolve, how championships should be determined etc, but right now we are least have this format. When the players and leagues start thinking more of how the fans will respond and how to get more fans (without compromising the game), that will be a huge step forward.

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