The Evolution of Tim Hardaway

Tim Hardaway was a great NBA player and his son just got drafted a couple weeks ago. He also used to be homophobic and famously responded to former NBA player John Amaechi coming out by saying he hates gay people and doesn’t want them around him. Now he’s helping lead the fight for equal rights.

A former NBA star who once declared “I hate gay people” became the first person to sign a new petition seeking to legalize gay marriage in Florida.

Tim Hardaway signed the first petition Wednesday night for Equal Marriage Florida, a fresh effort to repeal a 2008 state amendment banning same-sex unions. He added his name while leaning over a pool table in a public ceremony at Sully’s Tavern in Miami alonside Equal Marriage Florida organizer Vanessa Brito.

“If you’re married you’re married -– you should see your significant other in the hospital, make choices for your significant other if you need to make those choices,” Hardaway said at the signing, according to NBC6…

Admitting he “had no idea how much I hurt people” and pledging to “do whatever I can to correct it,” Hardaway shortly took classes at a Miami-area LGBT youth suicide prevention organization, raised money for a nationwide suicide hotline for young gay people, and in 2011 in El Paso fought a recall of three local politicians who voted to restore health benefits for gay city employees.

“I opened my eyes and went to counseling,” he told the El Paso Times.

I think he’s being genuine here because he hasn’t just talked the talk, he’s walked the walk. He’s used his celebrity to call attention to more than one instance of discrimination and to call for change. And kudos to him. People really do change sometimes and we need to support and praise them when it happens. Bravo, Mr. Hardaway.

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  • Best thing I’ve read today.

  • jamessweet

    Even if it’s not sincere, the effect is indubitably positive. I am agnostic as to the sincerity, but I hope you are right! 🙂

  • machintelligence

    I think the surprising thing is not that someone has changed his mind, bur rather how many people and how quickly. This is a heartening trend.

  • jameshanley

    The most amazing thing to me in the fight for equal rights for gays is not the intergeneratinal change, which was already obvious years ago, but the speed of the intragenerational change, adults changing their position on the issue. I said some years ago that the reason anti-gay activists were so opposed to gay rights being seen as a civil rights issue was that they intuitively knew that such a framing of the issue meant defeat for them. And I think that’s exactly what’s happened.

    The balance has shifted, so the dominant question now is no longer “how can you support sexual perversion tp “how can you deny civil rights.”

  • kantalope

    I’ve known so few people that actually change their opinions on things; it is very tough to get my head around. Do I believe? Since believing is the lowest form of knowing, maybe I’ll make an exception and believe this one thing because it make me happy to do it.

    Good for him.

  • matty1

    @4 I have a speculation about that. Gay people are not obviously distinct and can be in any family in any circumstances. This makes it much more likely that a homophobe knows and maybe even cares about a gay person without realising -then when they do realise they have to rethink. By contrast a racist can as it were see their targets coming and avoid them, they don’t have to worry that their son will come it at age 20 and say “Mum, Dad I’m black”.

    Familiarity is harder to avoid with a minority like gays who are spread through the population and familiarity can breed empathy.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    I’ve known so few people that actually change their opinions on things; it is very tough to get my head around.

    But is it plausible that everyone who supports marriage equality today must have supported it 10, 15 or 20 years ago? I know I didn’t, though I was never actively against it, and have been pro marriage equality for at least a decade now (before it was cool, hehe). And I have a number of family members who 10 or 20 years ago were horrified at the thought of gays getting married but who now support it or are at least indifferent to it and no longer horrified.

    I suspect a lot of people who strongly support marriage equality today were against it at some point in the past but have excised this fact from their life narrative.

  • Loqi

    By contrast a racist can as it were see their targets coming and avoid them, they don’t have to worry that their son will come it at age 20 and say “Mum, Dad I’m black”

    No, no, no. I’m sure it’s just a phase. Plenty of people..uh…experiment in college, but that doesn’t mean you’re black. I didn’t raise you to have skin with high melanin content. No son of mine is going to be black!

    On a more serious note, it’s always nice to get a reminder that the pro-equality and pro-humanity side is winning this war. So often it feels like we’re getting nowhere with how painfully slow it is. I know it’s very rapid by societal change standards, but when we’re talking about equal rights, the time it takes to make major gains shouldn’t have to be measured in years.

  • escuerd

    Well all right, then.

    Good going, Tim Hardaway. Looks like you’ve come a long way.

  • jaybee

    In my mother’s last year of life at 78, while waiting for lung cancer to take her down, finally saw the light on a few issues. She was a lifelong Catholic, one who had a pretty limited worldview as the result of going through Catholic school through high school and pretty quickly into becoming a baby-making machine. One day while my sister was driving her to some appointment or other she said:

    Gay people must be born that way. Who would choose to to be an outcast like that? If they love each other, why discourage them from getting married?

    Sometimes old dogs do learn new tricks.

  • On this issue I’ve known so many people who’ve changed their opinions that I have no problem believing it’s sincere. Perhaps the shit storm of negative reaction prompted him to start talking differently, but the funny thing about talking differently is that cognitive dissonance has a way of actually leading you to change your opinion. You become open to new evidence, new ways of looking at an issue.

  • grumpyoldfart

    He probably discovered the number of speaking engagements dropped after the “I hate homosexuals” statement, so he did a U-turn to get his earnings back up to an acceptable level.

  • meg

    I’d like to believe this is a genuine conversion that time and probably exposure to the issue brought about.

    My parents had similar changes over time. Dad regarding the role of women. My eldest sister is 17 years older than me. When she wanted to go to university, there was not the support, mental or financial, that my brother (a year older) got. Dad didn’t understand why she wanted to go, and what was the point of a business degree. By the time I finished school, there was no question – I was going to university, and that was it.

    I’ve also seen my mother change her attitude to homosexuality. I don’t think she completely approves, but she’s met friends of ours, who she thinks are lovely people, and therefore, can’t really be ‘sinners’. A friend of my sister’s even ended up in a situation where her nutbag ex-girlfriend claimed abuse etc, and Mum offer to be a character witness for her. “A 70 year old Catholic woman testifies she’s a good, non violent person and the judge will have to believe, right?” was her argument.

  • jameshanley

    Matty1 @6.

    I agree. It’s hard to reconcile “he’s a pervert!” with “I’ve known him all my life and he’s a great guy.” Whereas “he’s a subhuman ethnic!” is easy to reconcile with “I don’t know him and I’ll be damned if I ever will.”

  • grignon

    I don’t get the feeling that there’s been rapid shift in thought or comprehension. I think the net social pressure against homosexuality has dropped low enough that many who don’t give a crap what anyone else does and are okay with general universal rights can exercise their right of expression with an acceptable amount of negative backlash.

    I admit to initially being against universal partnership rights because I thought the strain on economic institutions like social security, pensions and insurance would be too great. I realize now the additional load is like a seagull landing on the Titanic.