Jeff Pearlman has gotten some rough treatment here of late for a disappointingly off-the-rack Mets-got-no-heart rant last week. But the guy has written some very entertaining books. I can’t say I’m especially keen to read his new Roger Clemens tome — I think my life is a good deal richer without more Clemens in it — but The Bad Guys Won was brisk, well-researched and pretty fun. And Pearlman’s testicular bona fides are pretty unassailable to me considering his adventures with John Rocker. But even writers of his caliber and profile occasionally get pieces declined, apparently.
We know this because Pearlman posted on his blog today a recent freelance piece that he couldn’t find a home for. I kind of spoiler-alerted what it’s about in the headline, but it’s a frank bit of advocacy urging a gay baseball player — any gay baseball player — to come out of the closet, and soon. It’s a long way from his best work, writing-wise, and the heavy advocacy of the piece probably didn’t help its chances at getting published any more than the topic did; there’s also a very opportunistic (and very silly) Bible quote that would’ve launched a million angry comments-section rants. But it’s interesting, at the very least. Pearlman, who is not gay, is clearly very invested in gay rights — a Google search turns up several pieces and posts on the topic — and deserves credit for putting 1200 words or so where his mouth is, and then going ahead and posting the piece on his website when no one else would run it. I’m always skeptical of non-gay writers cavalierly advocating that gay public figures come out — as a non-gay writer myself, I know that I have no idea how difficult and scary it would be, but I imagine the answer is “very.” But I’m definitely not skeptical about Pearlman’s sincerity:
Right now, at this precise moment in 2009, there is a desperate need for leaders in the gay-rights movement; a desperate need for high-profile people to make a Rosa Parks-esque statement. Just last week, the California Supreme Court came to a jarringly narrow conclusion, voting to uphold Proposition 8, which limits marriage to only between heterosexual couples. The decision serves as Exhibit 1A on how far this country has to go when it comes to accepting gays and lesbians as equals. It also serves as Exhibit 1A on why you are being called to action.
…How will Americans”especially those in the heartland”handle [a gay Big Leaguer]? How will they respond?
Answer: I™m not sure. It could be horrific. Worse than horrific. That said, Americans have been known to surprise. Maybe, just maybe, instead of heckles and catcalls, there will be cheers and standing ovations; curtain calls and sellouts. Maybe you will be branded a groundbreaker and a hero; will be referred to as œthe Jackie Robinson of gay rights.