Monday, January 29, 2007

dungy to speak at anti-gay dinner?

yesterday, bilerico's don sherflick noticed something that alarmed him. apparently indianapolis colts head coach tony dungy is scheduled to appear as the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by the indiana family institute. (steph has reposted the invitation on flickr here.) the word "family" in the organization's name should tell you that IFI is a right-wing organization that preaches non-tolerance. don explains:

The IFI is one of the leading proponents of SJR7, the proposed Indiana Constitutional amendment on marriage rights, and other legislative efforts to deny equal rights to LGBT folks. Under the guise of protecting traditional family values, it helps spread misinformation that fosters bigitory toward our community and our own families. Tony is undoubtedly a very fine father and devoted family man, and for that he deserves high praise. His refusal to resort to shouting, cursing and other demeaning tactics many other NFL coaches use is extremely commendable. And I think most in our community take pride in the fact that either he or his colleague Lovie Smith, coach of the Bears, will become the first African American coach in NFL history to win a Superbowl.

But Tony's prominent appearance before this group, as a representative of a major sports institution in Indianapolis, sends a chilling message. All of us shared the grief that Tony and his family experienced a year ago when his son took his own life. I understand that stories about a connection to sexual orientation were unfounded, and I would defend Tony's right to consider that a private matter. Still, there is an irony many of us in the LGBT community know well: The number of LGBT youth who have taken their lives because of self-hatred and homophobia is much above the national average. Organizations of the IFI variety cannot escape the fruits of their helping to foster the myths and resulting bigotry which contribute to those grim statistics. Surely Tony doesn't in any way support that; so why is he lending his celebrity and role model status to such a group?

as don goes on to explain, the fact that dungy is supposed to appear at this dinner does not in itself prove that dungy supports the IFI's gay-bashing agenda—dungy could have accepted without truly realizing who the IFI were or the message such a dinner would send, if he's officially accepted at all—but it's quite troubling nonetheless.

by 9am this morning, don's post had been picked up by aol sports blog, which in turn got picked up by atrios. so this story probably isn't going to be going away. it will be interesting to see if and how dungy and the colts organization respond.


Steph Mineart said...

I've heard the "maybe they don't know" excuse with previous attendees of IFI dinners, but I don't buy it. You don't have to look far on their website to see it's a political organization with a religious bent, not the other way around. Look at their tax stuff, and you can see they lobby and have statehouse connections

And I find it disturbing that there are people within the gay community who can't make that distinction.

sis said...

would be interesting to know when exactly he was invited (by the way does not say on the invitation or the website at quick view that Coach Dungy is actaully speaking) because I doubt he has had much free time to go around searching websites since lets say July, when mini camps started. Certianly the Colts organization will not respond this week to this issue. And also to the "maybe they didn't know" I am attending an event where Coach Dungy will in fact be speaking in March ( the company I work for is a Colts sponsor) and I would bet real money Dungy has no clue he even has to be there...
if he is prejudiced or homophobic I truly am disappointed but everything I have ever heard about him would say otherwise so perhaps we wait a sec and find out what is really up?