Ol’ Maggie Court’s crazy ramblings a reminder that the LGBT collective still has plenty of work to do

Margaret Court says tennis “is full of lesbians.” As if that’s a bad thing.

patti dawn swansson

Moreover, ol’ Maggie informs us that there were a couple of devil lesbians on the professional tennis circuit back in her day and, get this, they would take young players to parties. Imagine that. Young women partying. With lesbians. The horrors.

Ol’ Maggie has been saying a whole lot of oddball things lately and, if we are to believe the preacher lady from the Land of Oz, civilization is caught in the grip of a global plot orchestrated by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender collective. Those pesky gays are stealing the minds of our children, don’t you know?

“That’s what Hitler did, that’s what communism did—got the mind of children,” she advises us. “And it’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children.”

Hmmm. Kind of reminds me of what the Roman Catholic Church tried to do to me when I was a sprig.

The nuns, when not whacking us on the knuckles with a yardstick, would regale us with far-out tales of fantasy gardens, poisonous fruit, hell fires, voodoo antics like turning the rib of a man into a woman and, best of all, talking snakes in a magical tree. Their stories were better than anything we watched on The Wonderful World of Disney. But apparently Margaret Court believes all the Bible-based, brainwashing blarney that my receptive mind was force-fed, and it’s quite clear that the great Australian tennis champion is convinced that gay and (especially) transgender people are the spawn of Satan.

“That’s all the devil,” she says of transgender kids.

Ol’ Maggie Court

Poor, ol’ Maggie. There’s just no escaping conniving gay men and (especially) lesbians. We’re always shoving ourselves in her face, so to speak. Why, it’s gotten so bad that she can’t even travel hither and yon on Qantas anymore because the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, is a gay man who, not surprisingly, promotes same-sex marriage, which is, in the world according to Maggie, “alternative, unhealthy, unnatural.” The right to wed is “not theirs to take.”

“I believe marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible,” she harrumphs.

Well, it’s about your Bible, Maggie: One person’s truth is another’s fiction.

The prune-faced preacher lady has been battered fore and aft for her Bible-thumping bleatings, which included a disapproving and extremely tacky tsk-tsking of Aussie tennis pro Casey Dellacqua and her partner Amanda Judd following the birth of the lesbian couple’s second child, a joyous event that Court greeted with “sadness” because the newborn has two mamas and zero papas.

I’d rather not join the Maggie-bashing chorus, though, because I think she’s unwittingly done the gay community a small favor.

The hell, you say. How can that be so?

Well, to be clear, I find her drawing a parallel between the LGBT collective and a mass murderer, Adolph Hitler, repugnant. It is not only offensive in the extreme, it shows she clearly has lost both the plot and the argument. She appears to be totally off her nut. But…I also think ol’ Maggie has provided us with a reminder, albeit appalling—at the top of Pride Month, no less—that we still have work to do. The fight for acceptance and equality continues. It has not been won. We must keep society’s feet to the fire.

I suppose we really shouldn’t care what comes out of this nutter’s mouth, but Court is a legendary sportswoman. No one has matched her two dozen tennis Grand Slam singles titles. One of the playing venues at the Australian Open in Melbourne is named in her honor (for now). And she is a pastor (the argument could be made that she’s more of a cult leader given that she created her own church, the Victory Life Centre in Perth). Thus, her voice carries some degree of heft. If not, the pushback from gay, transgender and, indeed, straight people against her homo/transphobic tripe wouldn’t be so robust.

I’ll just say this about that: Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, but so is the freedom to shut the hell up. Ol’ Maggie might want to give that a try.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m stepping out to party with some lesbian tennis players.


Welcome to the mea culpa Olympic Games

It’s official. We no longer can say anything without bruising someone’s sensibilities and setting off a three-alarm fire of political incorrectness on Twitter and other social media.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

I mean, say “good morning” to someone and you’re apt to be accused of discriminating against afternoons, evenings and night time.

You think I’m kidding? Consider the goings-on at the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. There have been more mea culpas issued than gold medals. One broadcaster had to apologize for talking about a female swimmer’s coach/husband instead of the female swimmer; another apologized for referring to lesbian beach volleyball player Larissa Franca’s wife Liliane as her husband; another talking head apologized for referencing a Chinese swimmer to a pig; the Olympic committee apologized for raising the wrong Chinese flag; former U.S. Congressman John Dingell apologized “in advance for my Olympic tweets;” singer Demi Lovato offered her “deepest apologies” for laughing at her mother’s bad joke about the Zika virus; American gymnast Gabby Douglas apologized for not putting her right hand on her heart during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner; organizers apologized to fans for lengthy lineups and waits; one broadcaster apologized for suggesting that American gymnast Simone Biles’ parents weren’t really her parents; a BBC broadcaster apologized for a homophobic remark about gays on the tennis venue kiss-cam; the Daily Beast apologized for an article outing gay athletes; the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, apologized for faulty facilities; a CBC broadcaster apologized for misidentifying two American swimmers whose bodies were 99.9 per cent submerged; organizers apologized for thefts in the Olympic Village; organizers apologized for playing the wrong Nigerian anthem; the San Jose Mercury News apologized for an insensitive headline about African-American swimmer Simone Manuel; the Chicago Tribune apologized for an insensitive headline about trap shooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein; Lebanese judoka Nacif Elias asked “for forgiveness” following an epic rant on the heels of his disqualification; some Americans demanded an apology from their decathlete champion Ashton Eaton, who wore a red Canada hat in support of his Canadian wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, in the heptathlon.

And I apologize for the length of that paragraph.

But it underscores my point: No matter what you say, no matter what you do, you’re going to have someone’s knickers in a knot.

No wonder Grumpy was so grumpy—Snow White wouldn't date him.
No wonder Grumpy was so grumpy—Snow White wouldn’t date him.

It’s to the point where I think Clint Eastwood wasn’t far off the mark when he told Esquire that this is the “pussy generation.” Naturally, the award-winning actor/director was assailed for using a crude term that refers to the vagina and implies weakness, but one must be careful in any criticism of Clint. He is, after all, an 86-year-old man and we wouldn’t want to be accused of ageism, would we?

Of all the examples of political correctness run amok re the Olympic Games, the silliest had to be the critique of this headline in the Toronto Sun: Pretty Penny. It was in reference to Canada’s teenage, multiple-medal winning swimmer Penny Oleksiak. Some read Pretty Penny as blatant sexism. Oh. Come. On. It was a simple play on words, for cripes sake. But we don’t want to go there. Not in 2016. There can be no references to a female athlete’s appearance. It doesn’t matter that Penny is a pretty 16-year-old girl with dazzling eyes and a lovely smile. The politically correct police tell reporters that they’re in Rio to record the times of Oleksiak’s swimming events. Just the facts, ma’am. Nothing more.

What a shame.

I swear, it’s just a matter of time before these politically correct ninnies take aim at some of our most beloved literary works. Like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. WTF is up with that? Snow White is the fairest in all the land, yet the best she can do is cook and clean for Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey? Talk about your sexist stereotyping. But wait. Snow White is not without her biases and prejudices. Clearly, she has a hangup about small men. I mean, she could have dated one of the seven dwarfs. Didn’t happen, though. She died rather than date a dwarf. Little wonder Grumpy was grumpy.

I think Snow White owes Grumpy an apology.

You’re never going to have unanimity on the gay issue in the NHL or anywhere else

Brian Burke is disappointed.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

This, of course, is not uncommon. Burke’s smile is often turned upside-down. After all, he once generally managed the Toronto Maple Leafs, a tragic, ghastly hockey outfit that has perfected the art of disappointing its ownership, management, coaches and a fan base whose reach stretches far beyond parochial boundaries.

Not once since the spring of 1967 have les Leafs participated in a Stanley Cup parade, a stretch of annual faceplants that, while not equal in numbers to the Chicago Cubs’ century-plus death march, feels very Cub-ian. Burke can only be held personally responsible for a handful of the Leafs’ springtime melts, but some things tend to cling, and not even fleeing the Republic of Tranna and hiding out in Saudi Alberta can shake off the residue of ruin a man experiences in the Centre of the Shinny Universe.

It isn’t les Leafs who are up Burke’s nose these days, though. It’s a hockey player. A homophobic hockey player.

At least we assume him to be homophobic, because when USA TODAY unsealed the findings of a survey it conducted during a National Hockey League/NHL Players Association media meet-and-greet earlier this month in Toronto, one of 35 skaters turned thumbs down to the notion of welcoming an openly gay teammate into the lair. Guy’s gotta be a gay-hater, right?

“I’m disappointed by the one player,” said Burke, now Grand Poobah of all things Calgary Flames.

Well, sure he’s disappointed. Burke, after all, is among the founding fathers of the You Can Play Project, one of the leading entities in the crusade for inclusiveness in sports, professional and amateur. And already I have heard yelps of “Name him and shame him!” from the rabble. But let there be no witch hunt here. No McCarthyism, whereby we feret out the scoundrel who clings tightly to the notion that gay is wrong, gay is weak, gay is the devil’s own handiwork.

Let’s face it, this is life, which never has been, nor shall it ever be, one-size-fits-all. The crouching tiger of bigotry/racism/misogyny is always at the door.

P.K. Subban, for example, is to be admired universally and unanimously for his commitment to funnel $10 million to charity over the next seven years, yet I harbor no doubt that there are those walking among us who see not the Montreal Canadiens defenceman’s generosity but, rather, only the hue of his skin. To them, he’s just an uppity black man who shouldn’t be making that kind of money.

So finding one rogue hockey player in a group of 35? Not at all alarming.

Seriously, if you were to ask 35 anonymous NHL players if they believe women are nothing more than sex objects to be used for their pleasure, you’re apt to find at least one thick enough to give you an enthusiastic “Hell ya!”

Same thing with Europeans. Still. I mean, xenophobia ran rampant during the 1970s, first when those dreaded Ivans and Igors from Mother Russia tried to steal our game during the ’72 Summit Series, then when a tidal wave of Europeans washed ashore to take jobs from good Canadian boys mid-decade. I would venture to submit that there are still those who would prefer not to sit beside a Russian in the changing room. Some might not be too fond of Swedes. But the xenophobe ranks, I would suggest, have thinned considerably over time.

Ditto the homophobes. I doubt very much that USA TODAY would have received a whopping 97.1 per cent approval rate on its gay question 30-40 years ago. Oh, hell, they probably wouldn’t have gotten it 10 years ago.

So, this is a good-news story, and the fact that at least one player confesses to discomfort with a gay teammate is also positive, in a bass-ackwards way. If, for example, there had been 35-of-35 unanimity, the fallout would have been not only sharp cynicism but flat-out disbelief. Like, tell me Don Cherry is defecting to Moscow and I might buy it. But 100 per cent of NHL players being okay with a gay teammate? Sorry, no sale. That reeks of galloping political correctness.

As it is, we have been given a subtle reminder that educating is yet to be done, and the question now becomes: Is this survey, with its small sample size, enough to convince a gay player to come out?

If nothing else, it is encouraging and I, for one, don’t need to know the identity of the solitary homophobe who took part in the USA TODAY survey. I just assume he plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs, because they always disappoint.

Is it possible to be a homophobic homosexual?

The very notion that I am homophobic is a misguided bit of blarney, of course, yet, at the same time, I must be homophobic because someone perceives me to be homophobic and perception is reality.

I have been called many unflattering things in this lifetime. Bitch is the first one that comes to mind. I’ve also had a couple of people drop the C-bomb on me when I was the weekend cover girl at a gay bar.

But homophobic?

I suppose I should be offended at such a slur. I mean, I’m homophobic like the Pope is an atheist. I am, however, not offended. I’m puzzled.

I am a girl who likes girls. I believe that qualifies me as homosexual. I have 24 Facebook friends, 16 of whom are gay. Two gay men have been signing my pay cheques for the past six years. I have won an award for my writing about the LGBT community. I did volunteer work at a gay-owned and operated boutique. I have counselled transgender youth. I have done promotional work for Paparazzi Nightclub, which is recognized as a gay venue in Victoria. I have written three gay-themed books and I am working on a fourth.

So, how is it possible that I am homophobic?

Well, the very notion that I am homophobic is a misguided bit of blarney, of course, yet, at the same time, I must be homophobic because someone perceives me to be homophobic and perception is reality.

I can assure you that I’m quite comfortable in my rapidly wrinkling skin, so I won’t get my knickers in a knot because I am accused of homophobia, nor do I feel an urgent requirement to present a vigorous defence. Were I to rage against this charge, it would open a window to a second accusation—thou doth protest too much.

Thus, rather than a rousing rant, I am given pause to ponder. Is it possible, I wonder, for a gay person to be homophobic?

I know gay men who are offended if another gay man speaks and acts “too gay.” That these “too gay” men propagate the notion that all gay men are limp-wristed, lisping divas. I know gay women who are put off by other gay women because they “aren’t butch enough.” That they’re too femme. It’s as if lipstick lesbians are lepers.

In the minds of some gay men, I have two strikes against me. I am transgender and I am a female who likes females. So, they would rather that I not share their oxygen.

For example, a few months ago I was the sole patron in Paparazzi. A gay man of my acquaintance walked in and asked if he could join me. Of course. We engaged in a rather pleasant tete-a-tete for approximately 10 minutes, then he lost the plot.

“I wish this bar was for gay men only,” he said.

“Excuse me?” I responded.

“I wish this bar was for gay men only.”

“So, you’re saying you don’t want me in here. That I shouldn’t be allowed in here.”

“That’s right. I would prefer it that way.”

This, I hasten to emphasize, was not a one-off. It’s happened on numerous occasions. Is this not homophobia by homosexual? Or do we call it lesphobia? Or transphobia?

By any term, it is homophobic.

I mean, if some lout in a mainstream bar stands up and announces that “gays aren’t welcome here,” he’s immediately branded a homophobe. Does it not follow that a gay man doing the same is homophobic?

I like to think of the gay collective as the vegetables in the garden. There is a row of peas, a row of carrots, a row of green beans, a row of lettuce, a row of onions. Each has its own identity. Yet, once tossed into the salad bowl, the vegetables are as one and they do not reject the boiled egg that joins them.

Why, then, do we reject another within the LGBT community?

Pride Week 2014 is upon us in Victoria, and I find it most discomforting that homosexual homophobes walk among us. We’re all in this thing together, people. We should act like it.